Obama's Science Czar on His Past Work: ‘If You Read It and You Have a Problem, You’re Misreading It’
June 14, 2010 - 3:01 PMJohn P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and President Barack Obama's top science adviser, said last week that his past work is a 'stale topic' and: 'If you read it and you have a problem, you're misreading it.'
Holdren has co-authored works in the past that called for a campaign to “de-develop the United States” and said people need to eventually face up to a “world of zero net physical growth.” He also co-authored a passage that said: “The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being. Where any of these essential elements is lacking, the resultant individual will be deficient in some respect.”
CNSNews.com approached Holdren after an event at the National Press Club held by the Merage Foundation for the American Dream and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. The event was open to pre-credentialed media.
“You’re not going to get an interview,” Holdren told CNSNews.com as he was approached.
“I just want to ask you real quick about a lot of your past work. I’ve read it and--” said CNSNews.com.
“No, no. Listen, this is a stale topic,” said Holdren. “If you read it and you have a problem, you’re misreading it. I didn’t come here to be interviewed. I came here to honor my friends. Thanks a lot.”
Before being named by President Obama as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Holdren was director of the Woods Hole Research Center. He was also the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
In 1995, Holdren co-authored a chapter with Paul Ehrlich and Gretchen Daily—“The Meaning of Sustainability: Biogeophysical Aspects”--that was included in a book published by the World Bank. Ehrlich and Daily are associated with the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and Ehrlich is best known for his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb.
In “The Meaning of Sustainability: Biogeophysical Aspects,” Holdren, Ehrlich and Daily said:
“We know for certain, for example, that: No form of material growth (including population growth) other than asymptotic growth, is sustainable; [m]any of the practices inadequately supporting today’s population of 5.5 billion people are unsustainable; and [a]t the sustainability limit, there will be a tradeoff between population and energy-matter throughput per person, hence, ultimately, between economic activity per person and well-being per person.
“This is enough to say quite a lot about what needs to be faced up to eventually (a world of zero net physical growth), what should be done now (change unsustainable practices, reduce excessive material consumption, slow down population growth), and what the penalty will be for postponing attention to population limitation (lower well-being per person).”
In their 1973 book “Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions,” Holdren and co-authors Paul and Anne Ehrlich wrote:
“A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States. De-devolopment means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation. Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries."
“The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge,” they wrote. “They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.”
In the same book, Holdren and his co-authors made this observation about when a fetus becomes a human being:
“The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being. Where any of these essential elements is lacking, the resultant individual will be deficient in some respect.”