Nestle CEO pooh-poohs global warming fears
Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe claimed in Davos Friday that global warming is not really a problem. He didn't use those exact words, but he said as much in a number of amazingly iconoclastic comments he made on a panel at the World Economic Forum devoted to potential obstacles to global growth.
Brabeck-Letmathe said, among other things, that today's warming is not unusual compared to periods before the year 1000, for example, when "Greenland really was green." He also said that around 1830 there was a warming period when the glaciers in Switzerland, which Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth depicts shrinking rapidly, were even smaller than they are now. He asserted that villages now emerging from underneath the shrinking glaciers demonstrate how much smaller they were in earlier times.
He suggested that such facts were deliberately left out of the movie by the distorted selection of time periods in the display of charts and graphs. "Anybody can use statistics to prove their case," he said.
The tone of his remarks was in stark contrast to those of other CEOs on the panel and elsewhere in Davos, who are openly acknowledging the gravity of the climate crisis. Michael Dell, for example, now talks enthusiastically about the work being done by Greenpeace. This isn't merely because such companies are seeking to score marketing points, but also because increasingly their executives share the concerns of environmentalists.
Even the Financial Times' Martin Wolf, who was attempting impartial moderation, was impelled before the session ended to invite anyone from the audience to contradict Brabeck-Letmathe's strident and arrogant-sounding statements. Someone did, but too politely, it seemed to me.
Later, I ran into Vinod Khosla, the longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist now focusing on energy-related startups. I related Brabeck-Letmathe's onstage comments to him and asked what he thought. "You should tell him to see his proctologist so he can find his head," said Khosla, "and you can quote me."
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