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John Holdren and Anti-Growth Malthusianism (Part IV in a series on Obama's new science advisor)

If there is one quotation by Obama’s new science advisor that every American should hear, it is this:

“A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States. . . . Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries. This effort must be largely political” (italics added).

- John Holdren, Anne Ehrlich, and Paul Ehrlich, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions (San Francisco; W.H. Freeman and Company, 1973), p. 279.

Holdren’s deep-seated belief of the human “predicament” as a zero-sum game–America must lose for other countries to win–was also stated by him two years before:

“Only one rational path is open to us—simultaneous de-development of the [overdeveloped countries] and semi-development of the underdeveloped countries (UDC’s), in order to approach a decent and ecologically sustainable standard of living for all in between. By de-development we mean lower per-capita energy consumption, fewer gadgets, and the abolition of planned obsolescence.”

- John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, “Introduction,” in Holdren and Ehrlich, eds., Global Ecology, 1971, p. 3.

Holdren and the Ehrlichs paid homage to the gloomy worldview of Thomas Robert Malthus, who saw “misery or vice” as the necessary equalizer between growing population and the means of subsistence in An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798):

“We find ourselves firmly in the neo-Malthusian camp. We hold this view not because we believe the world to be running out of materials in an absolute sense, but rather because the barriers to continued material growth, in the form of problems of economics, logistics, management, and environmental impact, are so formidable.”

- Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, and John Holdren, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1977), p. 954.

Holdren and Paul Ehrlich put their anti-growth philosophy into a mathematical equation, I=PAT, where a negative environmental impact was linked to any combination of population growth, increasing affluence, and improving technology. This “gloomy prognosis” required, according to the three:

“organized evasive action: population control, limitation of material consumption, redistribution of wealth, transitions to technologies that are environmentally and socially less disruptive than today’s, and movement toward some kind of world government” (1977: p. 5).

Does Dr. Doom still believe all this? I had an email exchange with him on this very point in 2003, and he conceded nothing (see Part V of this series, forthcoming). But perhaps in his upcoming confirmation hearings he can be more forthcoming for the record.

18 comments

1 Howell { 04.09.09 at 1:10 pm }

Flashback to the early 1970s when I was a kid. Overpopulation panic was all the rage back then. Holdren is the main goofball for the promulgators of that mindset. Yeah, anything to keep you from an honest job, Holdren, you bad guy.

2 FOX: Hannity profiles “Science Czar” John P. Holdren « NewsReal Blog { 07.14.09 at 11:28 am }

[...] economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment, Holdren and Ehrlich in 1973 called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in order to [...]

3 Eugenics–Rockefeller–United Nations–Population Control–Holdren–Abortions/Sterilization–Browner–Cap and Trade–Obama–Compulsory Socialized Medicine–Euthanasia–Transhuman–Brave New World { 07.23.09 at 2:17 pm }

[...] economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment, Holdren and Ehrlich in 1973 called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in [...]

4 FOX: Science “Czar” believes babies “will ultimately develop into human beings” only after birth « NewsReal Blog { 07.30.09 at 11:48 am }

[...] that privileges the planet over people. In the same book cited above,  Holdren and Ehrlich also called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in order to [...]

5 Obama Science Czar Thinks that “Trees are people too” and That’s One of the More Sane Things He Believes! { 07.31.09 at 9:10 am }

[...] economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment, Holdren and Ehrlich in 1973 called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in [...]

6 Holdren ahs been writing and bragging about it ever since « Anti Oligarch { 08.09.09 at 4:12 am }

[...] economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment, Holdren and Ehrlich in 1973 called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in order to [...]

7 John Holdren–Science Czar–Videos « Pronk Palisades { 09.03.09 at 3:26 pm }

[...] economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment, Holdren and Ehrlich in 1973 called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in [...]

8 John Holdren | FrontPage Magazine { 10.18.09 at 1:18 am }

[...] environment, Holdren and Ehrlich (in their 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions) called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in [...]

9 peter lafond { 12.13.09 at 1:43 pm }

Has anybody here ever met and talked to John Holdren. I have, in fact he is part of my stepfather’s extended family. I challenged on some of this points he challenged me back to read everything he wrote. Sure if you take some of things he has written to nth degree you get all the gloom and doom- same thing when you take any religious text to the nth degree death and destruction.
I think we need to pay less attention to words written and more to actions taken.

10 A 2-Cent Solution to Help Fuel an Energy Quest - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com { 06.16.10 at 12:51 pm }

[...] P. Holdren, the science adviser to the president, has sometimes been attacked for signing on to catastrophic forecasts of population-driven doom as a young researcher. But I haven’t seen anyone undercut his cogent arguments, articulated [...]

11 John Holdren: Science and Technology Czar - - Conservative Daily News { 08.04.10 at 9:43 pm }

[...] environment, Holdren and Ehrlich (in their 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions) called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in order to [...]

12 The Elite’s Plan for Global Extermination Exposed « The NeoConservative Christian Right { 06.23.11 at 2:41 pm }

[...] natural environment, Holdren and Ehrlich (in their 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions) called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in order to [...]

13 Scary Thoughts From John Holdren, Obama’s Science Policy Advisor | EPA Abuse { 11.01.11 at 10:15 am }

[...] John Holdren and Anti-Growth Malthusianism (Part IV in a series on Obama’s new science advisor) (January 5, 2009) [...]

14 Seeking Ways Obama Can Preserve the Planet, on a Budget - NYTimes.com { 11.09.12 at 4:34 pm }

[...] Policy.John P. Holdren, the science adviser to the president, has sometimes been attacked for signing on to catastrophic forecasts of population-driven doom as a young researcher. But I haven’t seen anyone undercut his cogent arguments, articulated for [...]

15 Dot Earth Blog: Seeking Ways Obama Can Preserve the Planet, on a Budget : One Caribbean Radio | The Global Mix { 11.09.12 at 5:55 pm }

[...] P. Holdren, the science adviser to the president, has sometimes been attacked for signing on to catastrophic forecasts of population-driven doom as a young researcher. But I haven’t seen anyone undercut his cogent arguments, articulated for [...]

16 In an Era of Fiscal Cliffs, Seeking Ways Obama Can Preserve the Planet, on a Budget | "Global Possibilities" { 11.10.12 at 7:39 pm }

[...] P. Holdren, the science adviser to the president, has sometimes been attacked for signing on to catastrophic forecasts of population-driven doom as a young researcher. But I haven’t seen anyone undercut his cogent arguments, articulated for [...]

17 A Supply Side Visionary Is Drafted To Fight Team Obama - Forbes { 02.17.14 at 9:38 am }

[…] Holdren co-authored a 1993 book, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions, with Anne and Paul Ehrlich reportedly saying that, “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North […]

18 Heritage Drafts Steve Moore, Supply Side Visionary, To Fight Team Obama | Rotterdam Week { 02.24.14 at 7:28 am }

[…] co-authored a 1993 book, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions, with Anne and Paul Ehrlich reportedly saying that, “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North […]

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