Crank of the Week - September 13, 2010 - John Holdren
White House Office of Science and Technology Director John P. Holdren is back in the news and that can only mean he is once again spouting radical, crackpot ideas. In a video interview with CNSNews.com, Holdren said that he would use the “free market economy” to implement the “massive campaign” he advocated along with fellow misanthrope Paul Ehrlich to “de-develop the United States.” Aside from poor taste in associates, Holdren has demonstrated that the academic left is alive and as potentially dangerous to the average citizen as ever. Perhaps this is what the Obama administration means by “change,” but it is surely change we cannot live with.
What does “de-development” mean? “Resources must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries,” Holdren and his co-authors wrote. Frivolous and wasteful uses like building cities and subdivisions for citizens to live in, linked with modern highways to allow them to travel and commute to schools, offices and factories. And that is not all. The eco-inanity continues:
This effort must be largely political, especially with regard to our overexploitation of world resources, but the campaign should be strongly supplemented by legal and boycott action against polluters and others whose activities damage the environment. The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in 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 other words, the rich nations must become poor and the poor nations must stay that way. Businesses must be shuttered, either legally or through boycott. Everyone needs to lead a low-consumption life, an environmentalist code word for crappy and short. It is astounding that such dreck is coming from a close adviser to the US president. If Holdren wants to redistribute wealth he can give his salary to the poor and go live in a low-impact hut behind the White House.
“De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation,” Holdren wrote along with Paul and Anne H. Ehrlich in the “recommendations” concluding their 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions. The three ecological stooges called for action: “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States,” It was a stupid and cruel idea then and remains so today.
Paul Ehrlich gained notoriety for his book, The Population Bomb, a Malthusian rant about a distopian world ruined by uncontrolled human breeding. I read this book in my youth and was shaken by the predictions it made. I can tell you now that the book has left a permanent impression on me, since none of the catastrophic conditions predicted by Ehrlich have come to pass. Ehrlich and the other environmental radicals of the 1960s & 70s were wrong then and Holdren's recent comments prove that their accuracy has not improved.
Evidently Holdren was run to ground by CNSNews.com at an Environmental Protection Agency forum celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act. CNSNews also asked Holdren to comment on the declaration he made in 1995, along with co-authors Paul Ehrlich and Gretchen Daily of Stanford University, that mankind needed to “face up” to “a world of zero net physical growth” that would require reductions in consumption. The contempt in which ivory tower intellectuals hold the rest of mankind is breathtaking—they say that conservatives are heartless, but it is they would condemn humanity to lives of endless drudgery and crushing poverty.
“We know for certain, for example, that: No form of material growth (including population growth) other than asymptotic growth is sustainable,” Holdren, Ehrlich and Daily wrote in an essay for the World Bank titled, “The Meaning of Sustainability.” Holdren would not comment about this statement, saying he had to get to another engagement. Perhaps even he had the sense to realize that one outburst of concentrated leftist intellectual, green claptrap a week is the limit, even for a presidential adviser—but no, I speak too soon.
Holdren is also worried about global warming. Having noticed that there hasn’t been any actual global warming since 1998, he has decided to employ an old trick used by disingenuous scholars for ages—change the name of the failed theory. Holdren has dropped the name “global warming,” and now refers to “global climate disruption” instead. Shedding the old name solves that pesky problem of accuracy and provides sufficient vagueness to avoid having to actually be right in the future. Whether it gets warmer or colder, wetter or drier, less climatically eventful or more climatically eventful, the result will be the same: it can all be put down to “global climate disruption.” Look for more re-branding of crackpot theories in the future.
Proving that he is in the forefront when it comes to illusory pseudo-scientific drivel, this is Holdren's second Crank of the Week award. His first award came in 2009, when he stated that the global warming threat was so dire, we need to start geoengineering the climate system. He has also suggested that forced sterilization might be a good idea to rein in human population growth. Holdren is nothing if not consistent—consistently arrogant, consistently intellectually dishonest and consistently morally vacuous. So, for once again demonstrating a mixture of industrial grade stupidity and utter contempt for everyday people, this Crank of the Week is for you, John P. Holdren.