President-Elect Obama, having nominated his team of scientific advisers, declared
Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States – and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.
That sounds great, but so do the words “Hail, master” by which, with a kiss, Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of murderers. When you are a hardened and cynical politician, the smart move is to state your intentions as the exact opposite of what you’re planning in order to pleasantly surprise and disarm your opponent and put him off guard before you stick the knife in. For all the fancy talk, Obama’s choice amply demonstrates that he was dissembling even as he uttered the words because he nominated team members who are highly prominent in the politicization of science, and who have clearly been chosen because of the political views they hold, rather than the science they can do. Obama has chosen fanatics who will tell him what he craves to hear, rather than what he needs to hear, and if that is “protecting free and open enquiry” where “facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology” then I’ll eat my hat.
Let’s be specific. Obama nominated John Holdren as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, making Holdren his chief scientific adviser. This has delighted the climate alarmists, the Malthusians, the anti-nuclear lobby and the eco-fascists because Holdren has spent decades banging their drums. Holdren is an alarmist, whom time has shown to be spectacularly foolish in his predictions, and whose close association in joint articles and books (including one called Ecoscience) with the notorious Malthusian atheist Paul Ehrlich would (in my opinion) disqualify Holdren from any position of influence in society beyond his immediate family. In the 1980s, Holdren was predicting that before 2020 as many as one billion will die from climate-related catastrophes, and only two years ago he was blaming President Bush for a possible sea level rise of 4 metres this century.
Holdren, in a career spanning decades, appears – based on what he has published – not to have been doing any real science at all; all his publications are related to pushing his views on population control, nuclear weapons and energy, and climate ‘disruption’ (as he calls it). In newspaper and magazine articles, popular television and the university lecture hall, Holdren expresses contempt and annoyance at scientists who disagree with his views, branding them “dangerous”, remarking that they are “just spitting into the wind”. Unable to establish his positions scientifically, he resorts to ad hominem attacks on those who oppose his views. The Economist described his extraordinary attack on an economics book that exposed the fallacies of his position as “strong on contempt and sneering, but weak on substance”, and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says of Holdren “He rants, he’s a ranter. He particularly likes to personalize factual disputes by accusing opponents of being dishonest, underhanded and slimy.”
With Holdren in post, Obama will have declared war on true science, and pitted himself against “free and open inquiry”, ensuring that “facts and evidence” will most certainly be “twisted or obscured by politics or ideology.”
In 1971, Holdren and Erlich produced a paper in Science entitled Impact of Population Growth: complacency concerning this component of man’s predicament is unjustified and counterproductive. Even the title is political and ethical: value-laden words such as predicament and complacency (words he evidently loves, at they keep appearing in his writings) assume that normal population growth is always a ‘bad thing’ rather than a scientifically-measurable phenomenon. This is all begging the question, which is an appalling logical fallacy. Nor is this fallacious advocacy in the title alone: the text informs us that
Population growth causes a disproportionate negative impact on the environment…In an agricultural or technological society, each human individual has a negative impact on his environment.
This astonishing doctrine has, at its heart, the belief that the world would be a better place if mankind disappeared off the face of the earth. Everything humans do is bad, and if the world were left to become a wilderness the environmental impact would be minimized. That, of course is a religious viewpoint, an atheistic or pagan man-hating worldview. Why can’t an environmental impact be a good thing? Why must it always be construed so negatively? More optimistic religious viewpoints would assert that each individual human individual has value, and mankind has, by science and medicine, engineering, technology and agriculture, as well as the arts, made an overall positive impression on the environment – it has made the world a more habitable place, and able to sustain a growing population.
Holdren and Ehrlich proposed a formula for determining and minimizing environmental impact – now espoused by the United Nations. The formula turns negative, yielding environmental improvement, when the population is practically wiped out or completely annihilated. Clearly, Holdren would lose his friends if he openly espoused total annihilation, so he resorts to the more politically correct ‘population control’ solution, which usually results in selective death,
…population control…is necessary but not alone sufficient…and redistributing population would be a dangerous pseudosolution to the population problem.
As for that Great Satan, the USA, in Population and the American Predicament (1975) Holdren wrote
…my own suspicion is that the United States…has considerably exceeded the optimum population size…the recent rapid decline in fertility in the United States is cause for gratitude but not for complacency.
And in a chilling reminder of Hitler’s Final Solution, he immediately adds,
Efforts to understand the origins and mechanisms of the decline should be continued and intensified, so that the trend can be reinforced with policy if it falters.
By 1971, when his main literary association with Ehrlich began, Holdren could not be in any doubt as to the views of his co-author. Ehrlich had declared in The Population Bomb in 1968 that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over” and what was needed was “determined and successful efforts at population control”. Ehrlich went on to declare in 1969, “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in year 2000”, and in 1970 that “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct”. If he’d put his money where his mouth was, he’d be bankrupt. Ehrlich predicted that in the 1980s, as many as 90% of the world’s population would die of hunger, including over a quarter of the population of the USA, and that
Before 1985 mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity [in which] the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be nearing depletion.
With regard to the last claim, there was a famous wager in 1980 with economist Julian Simon, who disagreed with the positions of Ehrlich and Holdren. He challenged the doomsayers to specify any date in the future, more than a year ahead, when any specified natural resource would be more expensive. Eager to win the wager, Ehrlich, advised by Holdren, accepted the challenge
I and my colleagues, John P. Holdren (University of California, Berkeley) and John Harte (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), jointly accept Simon’s astonishing offer before other greedy people jump in.
and they bet $1000 that chromium, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten would be more expensive in ten years’ time. When the bet came due in 1990, all five metals were cheaper, and Ehrlich had to cough up.
Yet, as was reported in Wired:
[Simon] found it somewhat peculiar that neither…his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they’d been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days “experts” spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.
In Ecoscience, Holdren considered all sorts of means of population reduction, through to forced sterilization and abortion. His own views on the matter are as follows:
…severely repressive economic measures…should be considered only if milder methods fail…A far better choice, in our view, is to expand the milder methods…while redoubling efforts to ensure the means of birth control, including abortion and sterilization, are accessible to every human being on Earth within the shortest possible time…Survival of human society nevertheless seems likely to require the imposition of direct population control measures beyond family planning…High priority should be given to…counteracting the effects of pronatalist traditions.
And how can this be achieved? The Regime can take care of that:
Perhaps those agencies, combined with UNEP and the United Nations population agencies, might eventually be developed into a Planetary Regime—sort of an international superagency for population, resources, and environment. Such a comprehensive Planetary Regime could control the development, administration, conservation, and distribution of all natural resources, renewable or nonrenewable…the Regime could have the power to control pollution…The Regime might also be a logical central agency for regulating all international trade…including all food on the international market.
The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits. Control of population size might remain the responsibility of each government, but the Regime should have some power to enforce the agreed limits.
Holdren’s association with Ehrlich continued, and in 1995 they co-authored The Meaning of Sustainability: Biogeophysical Aspects with Holdren as principal author. In this work we find the usual suspects appearing, including “excessive population growth,” which is “a condition now prevailing almost everywhere.” Oh, really? The facts are that in many parts of the world the birthrate is well below the sustainability level of 2.1 children per couple, and in some places only half that figure. Then there is “maldistribution”, i.e. not espousing socialist re-distribution between the “rich and investment poor”. All of this is the fault of conservatives, of course, who have always promoted “greed, selfishness, intolerance, and shortsightedness. Which collectively have been elevated by conservative political doctrine and practice…to the status of a credo”. Holdren adds “above all in the United States in 1980-92,” i.e. under the Republican Reagan administration, just to make it clear which party Holdren supports so that he can claim his payback. No politics here, of course.
So now we know: Obama is striving hard to keep politics out of science.