Vintage Chamber of Commerce on Earth Day


Check out this vintage clip of a 1970 CBS Evening News special on Earth Day, hosted by Walter Cronkite. There are several slices of awesome here. First, there’s the song about sulfur dioxide. But more interesting is the debate among environmental activists about whether to ally themselves with the Chamber of Commerce in publicizing Earth Day.

“Would we be co-opted by business?” asked Edward Furia, Philadelphia’s Earth Week director. “Would we not be diluting our effort completely?” The group held three days of meetings to decide whether to even meet with the Chamber of Commerce; in the end they accepted financial support from the Chamber for their activities, and agreed to call off direct actions against industries. In return, the Chamber called off counter attacks and encouraged members to acknowledge their pollution and discuss clean up efforts.

Here’s the clip:

The video is even more amusing in light of this week’s 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Senators are expected to unveil a climate bill shortly afterwards, and the authors and the White House been heavily courting the national Chamber of Commerce to support the measure, after the group waged high-profile opposition against the House bill last summer. Top Obama administration officials are meeting with Tom Donohue, the president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, tomorrow. From Energy & Environment News:

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Carol Browner, Obama’s top staffer on energy and climate issues, invited Donohue to the White House as part of its ongoing courtship of the nation’s largest industry voice. In February, Obama and Donohue exchanged public letters suggesting they could work together on expanding nuclear power and increased drilling for offshore oil.

Some things never change, do they?

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.