Meet the Daddy Warbucks of Deep Ecology

Douglas Tompkins started The North Face Company, a Berkeley-based mountain climbing equipment purveyor, in the 1960s. He later sold it to start the very successful Esprit clothing company. When Tompkins bailed out in 1990, he reaped a profit estimated at $125 million. As he tells it, he found himself interested and involved more and more in environmental preservation, and less in the fashion industry. Burned out, he divorced, later to marry Kris McDivitt Tompkins, who stepped down in 1993 as chief executive of Patagonia, the wildly successful outdoor clothing company.Tompkins began to study “deep ecology,” an “ecocentric” view that rejects the idea of inherent human superiority, instead giving equal moral weight to all elements of nature, from the living to the inanimate. (See The 8 Points of Deep Ecology below) Tompkins used his fortune to endow the Foundation for Deep Ecology in 1990.

How to Stop Progress
The first mention of the Foundation is its sponsorship of “The Second Transitional Organic Cotton Conference” in 1993. The conference (also sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation, Esprit, The Gap, Patagonia Inc., the Pesticide Action Network, Farm Aid, and the Natural Resources Defense Council) goal was to encourage alternative methods for growing and processing cotton that used less pesticides and fertilizers. (“Environmental movement comes home at organic cotton conference,” PR Newswire, 8/26/93)In 1995, the foundation turned its attention toward helping to fund “TV-Free America,” the movement that sponsored “National TV Turnoff Week.” (“Is it time for a TV diet?,” Charleston Daily Mail, 4/21/95) The Foundation’s anti-technology bias began to clearly show through with its sponsorship in 1996 of the Second Luddite Congress. (The Luddites were a band of English weavers and cloth workers who in 1812 destroyed factories and killed a factory owner in trying to save their jobs.) (“Activists call for grass-roots ‘Luddite’ revolution,” The Columbus Dispatch, 4/16/96)To understand where the foundation has been and is heading, one need look no further than its program director, Jerry Mander. Mander is president of the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), a think tank opposed to globalization. IFG says its mission is to “reverse the globalization process by encouraging ideas and activities which revitalize local economies and communities, and ensure long term stability.”

Mander’s books could well be a Luddite reading list:


  • Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
  • In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nations
  • The Case Against the Global Economy: And for a Turn Toward the Local
  • One of IFG’s focal points has been agriculture. In 1998, IFG brought together leading anti-agribusiness activists to discuss plans for destroying modern agriculture. An excerpt from the agreed upon “Vancouver Statement On the Globalization and Industrialization of Agriculture” is typical of IFG’s position:

“We believe that the industrialization and globalization of food and fiber imperils humanity and the natural world. Reducing farming to a monocultural, synthetic, transnational corporate business threatens the health, nourishment, right livelihood, and spirituality of communities and the earth. It is insane to believe that we must poison land and water and waste the soil in order to feed and clothe ourselves. Five decades of the so-called Green Revolution have not only led to the destruction and contamination of water, soil, biodiversity, and human communities, but exacerbated hunger worldwide. One of the most critical impacts of industrial agriculture is climate change, which will destroy the natural basis of agriculture itself. The patenting of life, corporate ownership and manipulation of our genetic heritage is one of the greatest threats ever imposed by industrial agriculture: the human right to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves and our families is at stake. Institutions and treaties such as the World Trade Organization, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Codex Alimentarius, North American Free Trade Agreement, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the European Union have accelerated the process of agricultural industrialization and globalization while promoting the rights of corporations over those of people.”

IFG was very active in organizing both the Seattle World Trade Organization protests and the World Bank/International Monetary Fund protests in Washington, sponsoring activist “teach-ins” in both locations.IFG’s board is a who’s who of anti-progress activists, including these examples: Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Mark Ritchie of IATP, Vandana Shiva of the Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology, Martin Khor of the Third World Network (Consumers Association of Penang), Andrew Kimbrell of the International Center for Technology Assessment (Organic Consumers Association), and Lori Wallach of Public Citizen.

A Luddite Santa Claus
In addition to helping IFG, Mander has used the Foundation for Deep Ecology to assist his anti-progress friends. (IFG reported income of $858,744 in 1998. Between June 1998 and June 1999, the Foundation for Deep Ecology gave IFG $200,000.) The Foundation for Deep Ecology reported having $146,517,138 on hand in June of 1999. Some recipients of the Foundation’s grants in 1998/1999 include:


















































































































































































































































Recipient Amount Purpose
A SEED Europe 40,000 General Support
A SEED Europe 16,630 “Rounding up Monsanto” campaign
Center for Rural Affairs 10,000 “Rounding up Monsanto” campaign
Consumer’s Choice Council 15,000 Defend eco-labeling
Consumers Association of Penang 125,000 Third World Network support
Consumers Association of Penang 50,000 General support
Consumers Association of Penang 25,000 General support
Edmonds Institute 3,000 “Biodevestation” teach-in
Farm Folk / City Folk Society 20,000 Sustainable food system in British Columbia
Farm Folk / City Folk Society 20,000 General support
Foundation for the Promotion of Sustainable Development 20,000 General support
Foundation on Economic Trends 100,000 General support (Jeremy Rifkin)
Foundation on Economic Trends 50,000 General support
Friends of the Earth 42,000 General support
Friends of the Earth 20,000 Trade and investment program
Friends of the Earth 10,000 “Economics for the Earth” program
Friends of the Earth 5,000 Seventh Generation magazine
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy 75,000 Sustainable agriculture program
Institute for Food and Development Policy 15,000 Confronting industrial agriculture
International Center for Technology Assessment 103,000 “Fatal harvest” book project
International Center for Technology Assessment 100,000 General support
International Center for Technology Assessment 30,000 Anti-technology society support
International Center for Technology Assessment 25,000 Organic watch
International Center for Technology Assessment 20,000 Sustainable development
International Center for Technology Assessment 5,000 Center for Food Safety-litigation strategy
Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet 25,000 Organic fiber campaign
Mothers for Natural Law 10,000 General support
National Family Farm Coalition 20,000 Pure food & fair prices campaign
Pesticide Action Network 10,000 Methyl bromide
Public Citizen Foundation 70,000 General Support
Rainforest Action Network 40,000 No new fossil fuel exploration campaign
Rainforest Action Network 35,000 General support
Rainforest Action Network 32,400 General support
Rainforest Action Network 30,240 General support
Rainforest Action Network 27,000 General support
Rainforest Action Network 16,000 General support
Rainforest Action Network 15,000 Forest communities project
Rainforest Action Network 10,800 Supplemental general support
Research Foundation for Science, Technology, & Ecology 40,000 General support (Vandana Shiva)
Research Foundation for Science, Technology, & Ecology 40,000 General support
Rural Advancement Foundation International 25,000 Campaign against biopiracy
Sierra Club Foundation 20,000 Great Oswegatchie Wilderness campaign
Sierra Club Foundation 15,000 Responsible trade
Soil Association 10,000 Local food links project
Tides Center 10,000 Transnational resource & action center
TV-Free America 10,000 General support
Worldwatch Institute 8,000 General support

The 8 Points of Deep Ecology

(From “Ecology, Community and Lifestyle” by Arne Naess)


  1. The flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth has inherent value. The value of non-human life forms is independent of the usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes.
  2. The richness and diversity of life forms are also values in themselves and contribute to the flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth.
  3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs.
  4. Present human interference with the non-human world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
  5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a substantial decrease of human population. The flourishing of non-human life requires such a decrease.
  6. Significant change of life conditions for the better requires change in policies. These affect basic economic, technological, and ideological structures.
  7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality (dwelling in situations of inherent value) rather than adhering to a high standard of living. There will be profound awareness of the difference between big and great.
  8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation, directly or indirectly, to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.