January 31, 2013

The Good News: Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, is no longer a Climate Change Denier. The Bad News… ~ Duff McDuffee

elephant’s own Waylon Lewis broke the news that John Mackey of Whole Foods didn’t then believe in climate change. It became a national story, four years ago, for Huffington Post, NY Times, etc.

Now, John’s at it again. ~ ed.

John Mackey, the generally-awesome, nutty and libertarian Whole Foods CEO, has been a skeptic of global warming for some time—but this takes the cake.

In a recent interview for Mother Jones, John Mackey said, and I quote, “climate change is perfectly natural and not necessarily bad…most of humanity tends to flourish more when global temperatures are in a warming trend.”

Here’s a longer quote from the interview:

“In general, most of humanity tends to flourish more when global temperatures are in a warming trend and I believe we will be able to successfully adapt to gradually rising temperatures. What I am opposed to is trying to stop virtually all economic progress because of the fear of climate change. I would hate to see billions of people condemned to remain in poverty because of climate change fears.”

Uh, no. It’s not good for the millions, if not billions of poor people who will have to relocate, or have decreasing crop yields, etc.

Here are some quotes from OECD:

“While climate change is a global phenomenon, its negative impacts are more severely felt by poor people and poor countries. They are more vulnerable because of their high dependence on natural resources, and their limited capacity to cope with climate variability and extremes.”

“The impacts of climate change, and the vulnerability of poor communities to climate change, vary greatly, but generally, climate change is superimposed on existing vulnerabilities. Climate change will further reduce access to drinking water, negatively affect the health of poor people, and will pose a real threat to food security in many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In some areas where livelihood choices are limited, decreasing crop yields threaten famines, or where loss of landmass in coastal areas is anticipated, migration might be the only solution. The macroeconomic costs of the impacts of climate change are highly uncertain, but very likely have the potential to threaten development in many countries.”

Why might he say such things? Does he not know, or not care about the impact climate change is having and will likely have on the poor people of the world?

The triple pundit blog has this to say about it:

“If these positions sound odd coming from the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, you need to remember that Mackey is a libertarian, and this view on climate change is not uncommon among libertarians. Libertarians, in general, have a hard time accepting that global warming is a serious problem. Why is that?

Prof. Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University and Matt Bruenig provide some good explanations, as well as George Monbiot who tried to simplify the argument, which is based on the procedural justice account of property rights as follows: “In brief, this means that if the process by which property was acquired was just, those who have acquired it should be free to use it as they wish, without social restraints or obligations to other people. Their property rights are absolute and cannot be intruded upon by the state or by anyone else.”

So you can see why harmful manmade greenhouse emissions might be at odds with the libertarian view of the world – after all, as Matt Bruenig explains, “Greenhouse gas emitters have not contracted with every single property owner in the world, making their emissions a violation of a very strict libertarian property rights ideology.””


Personally I think that climate change challenges libertarian ideology because it says that our individual actions necessarily impact those of everyone else. Every breath I take changes the concentration of CO2 relative to O2 in the atmosphere. Every bite of food I eat came from somewhere, a specific plant or animal.

We are all interconnected, and it’s time we started acting like it.

Duff McDuffee is a philosopher, coach, and writer living in the city with the largest Whole Foods in America, Boulder, Colorado. His website: http://scientificgoals.com/




Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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