Posts Tagged 'John Holdren'

Filthy Dreamers

If you are the President’s chief scientific advisor then you have a duty to be informed and keep informed, and a duty to refrain from making indisputably false statements. Such responsibility is obviously too much for John Holdren, who has shown himself again as an inveterate liar (see earlier posts All who hate Me love Death and Growth of Crops, Weeds, CO2 and Lies). In a recent interview with New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert, Holdren repeats the litany of ‘evidences’ for anthropogenic global warming, which he must know are patently untrue if he has read any scientific literature over the past few years. Holdren said

We all talk about the acceleration of climate change in its impacts that we’re observing. One sees the incidence of wildfires going up more rapidly than people expected, the incidence of heat waves and droughts going up more rapidly, sea level is rising more rapidly… All of these indicators are moving more rapidly.

Wrong on all counts. It’s simply impossible for Holdren to be honestly mistaken here, because the data in some cases comes from US government agencies. Consider sea level rise. There is not the slightest evidence that “sea level is rising more rapidly”, that this represents an “acceleration of climate change in its impacts”. When Holdren says “One sees…” he cannot mean to ‘foresee’ as a ‘seer’ might do, since his previous statement makes it clear that this is one of the accelerating ‘impacts that we’re observing’. Well, it’s really very easy to determine Holdren’s integrity since we can simply look at the data that ‘we’re observing’. Do records show that sea level rise is accelerating, “rising more rapidly”? Not at all: sea level rise has been pretty steady over the last 100 years, except in the last few years when it has appeared to slow down significantly, even to the extent of appearing to show a declining trend since 2006. Wolfgang Scherer, Director of Australia’s National Tidal Facility correctly states

One definitive statement we can make is that there is no indication based on observations that sea level rise is accelerating.

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Growth of Crops, Weeds, CO2 and Lies

The USA has its own Climate Change propaganda. The latest is Obama’s first big scientific report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, signed off by Obama’s appointed President’s Science Advisor, John Holdren, the neo-Malthusian who has espoused forcible sterilization and abortion for reducing the US population. As expected, it’s a classic but crude piece of propaganda peppered with images that are designed to scare, but which are unrelated to the matter under consideration – for example pictures of floods from Hurricane Katrina, which has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change, but which was merely the result of a hurricane making landfall directly on New Orleans. The Space and Science Research Center in Florida put out a press release on July 13 with a call for Holdren and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenko to be removed from office because

These two individuals and other agency heads orchestrated and then signed off on the recently released government report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. This report was a piece of blatant, politically motivated bad science and pure propaganda…

And in a letter to Senator Boxer, the SSRC opine that it is

an international embarrassment of American scientific expertise and is so full of misleading data, false assumptions, and invalid conclusions that it simply cannot be relied upon as a policy making reference.

The report cites 569 references, but how many readers are going to go to the trouble of looking any of them up to discover that they don’t support the position of the text, or have been so selectively quoted that they are relied on to say the opposite to what was meant?


We can’t deal with the whole report, so we will mention one example from the chapter on agriculture (PDF here) as we have been considering the effects of elevated CO2 on plants. This example will demonstrate the lying propaganda, and the disregard and crafty twisting of the evidence; and this example is typical of the whole report, which is a compendium of lies.

The poster boy of the agricultural section of the report is the following image, which also appears on the associated website. The report text states

The most widely used herbicide in the United States, glyphosate (RoundUp®), loses its efficacy on weeds grown at carbon dioxide levels that are projected to occur in the coming decades (see photos below).
Higher concentrations of the chemical and more frequent spraying thus will be needed, increasing economic and environmental costs associated with chemical use.


What this is supposed to show is that as CO2 increases, the effectiveness of a common herbicide decreases. Notice anything strange? The experiment is completely unrepresentative of an agricultural situation since it is evident from the picture that there are no crops present. Well, who sows and grows fields of weeds, and who wastes time and money spraying weeds with herbicide where there are no crops growing? Who cares about weeds where crops aren’t grown? No-one.

Don’t be deceived. What the picture actually shows is that weeds, like all plants, thrive under elevated CO2, can better utilize available resources, and can overcome stresses better (in this case, the application of herbicide, which is an extreme stress). This is expected, and we pointed this out in previous posts (World Food Supplies and Carbon Emissions, and Photosynthesis and CO2 Enrichment). The picture says nothing whatsoever about what would happen to the weeds under herbicide stress when they have to compete for the same resources (water, nutrients, light, CO2 etc) as herbicide-resistant crops growing in the same patch. What we find in the real world (as we will demonstrate below) is that in a competitive environment (which is the only real-world agricultural scenario worth considering) the fertilizing effects of enhanced CO2 on crops far outweigh any slight mitigation of herbicide stress on weeds. The result is that in elevated CO2 environments, crop yield is far higher for a given application of herbicide, or alternatively for a given crop yield the herbicide requirement is considerably reduced. Thus the report is lying, the scientists who compiled it are lying, and they know very well that they are lying. The trouble is, we’re not supposed to be informed well enough to know it. We will now prove it.

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All who hate Me love Death



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.

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