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

Via elephant journal
on Jan 31, 2013
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john mackey

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.

duffDuff McDuffee is a philosopher, coach, and writer living in the city with the largest Whole Foods in America, Boulder, Colorado. His website:




Ed: Kate Bartolotta


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

  1. Boo to John Mackey. Thanks for posting this, Duff!

  2. Kelly Simmons says:

    John Mackey is an idiot at most things except, perhaps, for running a large corporation. Why the news media ask folks questions WAY outside their areas of expertise and then publish the drivel is beyond me. It’s like a reporter asking John Mackey his opinions about the latest techniques in brain surgery. Just.plain.stupid. And Mackey doesn’t disappoint. He drones on with tired, uninformed, ignorant opinions. Give me a break. Mackey’s opinions about climate change are irrelevant at best and quite harmful at worst. Why give his ignorance a soapbox? Because he’s wealthy? Because he’s famous for running Whole Foods? What would the headline be if he didn’t “believe” in gravity, or evolution? Unfortunately, it’s famous but ignorant douche bags like Mackey who set us back in the fight to create an informed, intelligent public on the matter. Ugh.

  3. Cliff says:

    Thank you, Duff! Agreed.

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Yes, people are influenced, often blinded, by ideology.

    As McDuffee points out, the threat to property rights and the threat of giving more power to govt naturally moves libertarians in the direction of skepticism of govt-based solutions to global warming. McDuffee deals with the problem of the resulting libertarian blindness here.

    On the other hand, the threat to the environment and egalitarianism by allowing business free reign naturally moves liberals in the direction of skepticism towards free market solutions. McDuffee breathes not a word (and likely thinks very few words) about blindness on the liberal side so let me make up for that lapse.

    Liberals, blinded, by anti business ideology, have missed and are missing one of the biggest stories in all of human history. Over the last two decades, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and during the greatest worldwide free trade regime in history, 500 million people have moved out of poverty. And the pace is increasing. Business worldwide is gearing up to serve another hundred billion a year moving into the middle class over the next two decades, i.e. an additional 2 billion people.

    Most govt-is-the-solution people are stuck in old ideologies and old explanations of the source and prevalence of poverty throughout the world. Most who believe that global warming is human-caused and that the solution is bigger govt and business-killing taxation and regulation, thus condemn hundreds of billions to poverty.

    Much of what McDuffee says here is right. The problem is what he leaves unsaid and probably unthought and unnoticed.

  5. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Whoops! A few places in need of a rewrite. But especially this: No, I don't really think that business is gearing up to serve another 100 billion (b). Make that a mere 100 million (m). It's 500 million out of poverty in the last two decades. 100 million a year expected by business in the next two decades, ie, 2 billion, 2 and a half billion total. Not bad. And something John Mackey does not want to lightly ignore or jeopardize.

  6. Mark Ledbetter says:

    The whoops continue. And, of course, anti-business ideology would condmen not hundereds of BILLions but hundreds of MILLions to remain in their current poverty.

  7. Mark Hastings says:

    Wow! That is amazing. He is obviously, well informed and NOT afraid to stand up and say what he believes instead of bowing to peer pressure. Kudos!!!!!!!!!! Mr. Mackey you have just earned a lot of points in my book! I will be swinging by WF on the way home! Way to go!!!!!!!

  8. Ahimsa says:

    I have been following Mackey's latest comments as he has been in the media swirl of late due to his book tour. I find him an interesting duality. I find him offensive and some what of an idiot in several points he makes. His whole vegan thing is interesting, but he looks unhealthy in person, as i just saw him in Boulder. He looks like he is not thriving. The recent global warming report from MIT is rather compelling as well as the latest (just last week) science that is now available from the analysis of an ancient chunk of ice. It does seem normal that climate temperature rise and fall with millennia, but pollution and excess carbon and FRACKING!!!!! are terrible things. These may be separate issues that are now psychologically all lumped together. I for one hate living through cold Colorado winters , and if we are naturally warming and there is no one to blame as far as man made issues (obviously not possible entirely) then I say bring on global warming but just in the coldest places!

  9. Jeff says:

    What's almost said above is that Libertarians, but more so, Conservatives, have a hard time with the concept of the "commons." I am old enough to remember coal soot on buildings, rivers burning and the reasons for the superfund regulations. Too any of today's younger Libertarians have no experience of just how bad business interests will allow things to be in their quest for the lowest possible cost. We are now faced with a knowledge of a "global commons." Transferring the worst of the pollution to other continents does not solve anything. Perhaps my local river is cleaner, air a little easier to breathe. But in the big picture, the heavy metals dump into our common ocean, carbon into our shared atmosphere, and the waste and the garbage into whatever community is deemed the poorest and least able to stop it.

    And beyond the environmental concerns lies the economics. Factories that abandoned towns because their special tax breaks have lapsed, companies that fire people for the temerity of becoming old or sick and in need of promised benefits, unpaid pensions for a lifetime of work. All of these happen daily. All of these destroy our sense of community, our common bonds. I understand the desire and do not blame the people of India or China or wherever the capital flows next: but I hope that they are able to find a better model than the one I have lived in the USA.

  10. JJ Rafael says:

    John Mackey has demonstrated a consistent lack of discernment around numerous issues outside of his purview of running a company. He also reveals a shocking lack of integrity in serving as the board chairman for serial predator and sociopath Marc Gafni's organization:
    I just don't get it.

  11. […] is true. Have you ever noticed where Whole Foods sets up its stores? In affluent neighborhoods where the residents can afford the high price organic […]

  12. @undefined says:

    I have come to the conclusion that we all have a little blame global warming and its consequences and guilt even more politicians who do not slow down.