Halloween Thoughts from a Harvard Man (Holdren can play himself tonight)

“Some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the [twentieth] century.”

– John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich (1971) [1]

Doom and gloom—repeatedly falsified—hallmark the long career of John P. Holdren, neo-Malthusian and President Obama’s start-to-finish science advisor. Back at Harvard University, the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy has been been quiet , avoiding making specific, apocalyptic predictions during his Obama years (January 2009– January 2017). But his many written and spoken statements beginning in the 1970s, never disowned, remain for the record.

Today is a good time to refresh memories of the man who just might be the scariest man in Boston/Cape Cod on this day.

Read—but don’t be frightened. The sky-is-falling gloom of Holdren, his mentor Paul Ehrlich, Joe Romm, Al Gore, and others is in intellectual and empirical trouble. From Julian Simon to Bjorn Lomborg to Indur Goklany to Matt Ridley to Marlo Lewis to Pierre Desrochers to Alex Epstein, the technological optimists have the upper hand in a debate that continues to rage. But with new voices such as Bill Gates appreciating the Julian Simon ‘ultimate resource’ view, the debate is joined.

Billion Deaths Possible!

“As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” – Paul Ehrlich [2]

Economic Decline Coming!

“Today the frontiers are gone, and the evidence is mounting that technology cannot hold the law of diminishing returns at bay much longer. Resources being stressed today are often being stressed globally; they will not be replenished from outside the ‘system’.” [3]

Economic Decline Required!

“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.” [4]

Optimist Not!

“We are not, of course, optimistic about our chances of success. Some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century. (The inability to forecast exactly which one – whether plague, famine, the poisoning of the oceans, drastic climatic change, or some disaster entirely unforeseen – is hardly grounds for complacency.)” [5]

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.” [6]

Occupy Wall Street!

“[Our] “gloomy prognosis” [requires] 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.” [7]

Do I Have to Prove It?

“Now, this problem puts those of us who tend to view with alarm in a somewhat curious position. We’re calling upon society to make major changes, but we cannot prove exactly what will happen and exactly when, in the absence of those kinds of changes.” [8]

Just Kidding!?

“We have been warned by our more cautious colleagues that those who discuss threats of sociological and ecological disaster run the risk of being ‘discredited’ if those threats fail to materialize on schedule.” [9]

———————

In-depth Holdren analysis can be found in these posts:

John Holdren on Global Cooling (Part I in a Series on Obama’s new science advisor, ‘Dr. Doom’) (December 30, 2008)

John Holdren on Global Warming (Part II in a series on Obama’s new science advisor) (December 31, 2010)

John Holdren on Mineral/Energy Depletion (Part III in a series on Obama’s new science advisor) (January 2, 2009)

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

John Holdren on Renewable Energy Problems (Part V in a series on Obama’s New Science Advisor) (January 10, 2009)

John Holdren Describes Energy as “Indispensable,” “Reliable,” “Affordable” (Part VI in a series on Obama’s new science advisor)(January 14, 2009)

John Holdren and “The Argument from Authority” (Part VII in a Series on Obama’s New Science Advisor) (January 22, 2009)

John Holdren in Retrospect (Part VIII on Obama’s New Science Advisor) (February 2, 2009)

Also see:

John Holdren Told ‘Not to Make News’ at Confirmation Hearing (February 12, 2010)

Halloween Hangover: Ehrlich, Holdren, Hansen Unretracted (November 1, 2010)

—————–

[1] John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, “What We Must Do, and the Cost of Failure,” in Holdren and Ehrlich, Global Ecology (1971), p. 279.

[2] Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature (1986), p. 274.

[3] John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, ‘Resource Realities,’ in Holdren and Ehrlich (eds.), Global Ecology, p. 8.

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

[5] John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, “What We Must Do, and the Cost of Failure,” in Holdren and Ehrlich, Global Ecology (1971), p. 279.

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

[7] Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich, and John Holdren, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1977), p. 5.

[8] Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, Hearings on the Domestic Supply Information Act, Senate Committee on Commerce and Committee on Government Operations (93rd Cong., 2nd Sess. 1974). Reprinted here.

[9] John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, eds., Global Ecology (1971), p. 6.

——————————–

An earlier version of this post was published at MasterResource on this day in 2014.

The post Halloween Thoughts from a Harvard Man (Holdren can play himself tonight) appeared first on Master Resource.

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October 31, 2017 at 01:19AM

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