For Immediate Release, October 14, 2011
Contact: Kierán Suckling (520) 275-5960
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wins 2011 Rubber Dodo Award
TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today named the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the recipient of its 2011 Rubber Dodo Award. The award is given annually to those who have done the most to drive endangered species extinct.
Previous winners include former BP CEO Tony Hayward (2010), massive land speculator Michael Winer (2009), Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (2008) and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne (2007).
No business lobby has done more to halt effort to stop global warming than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It has opposed every significant piece of climate legislation in Congress and is cheerleading the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial, 1,700-mile project that poses acute dangers to the land and water it passes over and pushes us deeper in the climate crisis by dramatically ramping up dependence on fossil fuels.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets the 2011 Rubber Dodo award for shamelessly shilling for corporations that pollute our air, dirty our water, ruin our climate and wipe out endangered species habitat,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center.
The Chamber spent some $32 million during the 2010 elections, with more than 90 percent going to climate-denying candidates. The Chamber, which has an army of lobbyists and an array of front groups, has consistently opposed bedrock environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the most environmentally destructive forces in America. It puts profits above all else, including human health, human rights, the environment and wildlife,” Suckling said.
More than 7,000 people cast their votes in this year’s Rubber Dodo contest. Other official nominees were giant pesticide manufacturer Syngenta and Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who’s launched a disinformation campaign opposing Endangered Species Act protections for the dunes sagebrush lizard. Hundreds of write-in votes were given to Congress, Monsanto, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, President Obama, Sarah Palin and Wall Street. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, though, was the clear winner.
Background on the Dodo
In 1598, Dutch sailors landing on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius discovered a flightless, three-foot-tall, extraordinarily friendly bird. Its original scientific name was Didus ineptus. (Contemporary scientists use the less defamatory Raphus cucullatus.) To the rest of the world, it’s the dodo — the most famous extinct species on Earth. It evolved over millions of years with no natural predators and eventually lost the ability to fly, becoming a land-based consumer of fruits, nuts and berries. Having never known predators, it showed no fear of humans or the menagerie of animals accompanying them to Mauritius.
Its trusting nature led to its rapid extinction. By 1681, the dodo was extinct, having been hunted and outcompeted by humans, dogs, cats, rats, macaques and pigs. Humans logged its forest cover and pigs uprooted and ate much of the understory vegetation.
The origin of the name dodo is unclear. It likely came from the Dutch word dodoor, meaning “sluggard,” the Portuguese word doudo, meaning “fool” or “crazy,” or the Dutch word dodaars meaning “plump-arse” (that nation’s name for the little grebe).
The dodo’s reputation as a foolish, ungainly bird derives in part from its friendly naiveté and the very plump captives that were taken on tour across Europe. The animal’s reputation was cemented with the 1865 publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Based on skeleton reconstructions and the discovery of early drawings, scientists now believe that the dodo was a much sleeker animal than commonly portrayed. The rotund European exhibitions were accidentally produced by overfeeding captive birds.