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Policy: Environment & Energy

White House science adviser John Holdren: The intellectual godfather of Obama's climate policy

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Opinion,Ron Arnold,Columnists,Climate Change,EPA,Energy and Environment,Global Warming

President Obama's Monday announcement of crippling new Environmental Protection Agency rules to de-develop America for global warming ideology has roots planted in a 1973 book by his top science adviser.

John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is in the hot seat - again. The nation's top catastrophist was recently ridiculed for telling us to say “climate disruption” because it's scarier than “climate change.”

The 1973 book was Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions, which blatantly insisted that the United States “de-develop” its “overdeveloped” economy, divert energy from “frivolous and wasteful” uses and immediately “halt the growth of the Ameri­can population.”

It echoes in Obama's Monday move to destroy the coal industry, which fuels plants that generate nearly 40 percent of America's electricity.

The ghost of Holdren’s de-development dogma now works through Obama to haunt the nation with Big Green’s ultimate goal: no development, period – and at the extreme of extremes, “the unmaking of civilization” advocated by lawyer Christopher Manes.

There’s doubt as to how much – but not whether – Holdren-think influenced the Obama administration to promulgate the new rule.

Holdren wrote his de-development manifesto with Paul and Anne Ehrlich, the scaremongering authors of the Sierra Club book The Population Bomb.

The de-development issue refuses to go away. It resurfaced in a 2010 CNSNews interview at an Environmental Protection Agency forum celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act - which caught our top climate scientist in a flat lie.

The CNSNews interviewer asked Holdren about the book’s "recommendations,” beginning with, “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States,” then marching through scorched-earth campaigns concluding with a visionary paragraph extolling – the exact words – “love, beauty, peace, and plenty” where everybody is provided an equal share, and the rich – who would no longer exist – pay all the bills.

CNSNews asked Holdren: "And how do you plan on implementing that?"

"Through the free market economy," Holdren said, and refused to comment further.

The CNSNews report prompted the left-wing, foundation-funded Media Matters (2012 revenue $9.6 million) to a pathetic defense, headlined, “Right wing blogs twist Holdren’s clarification of 37-year-old book passage.” The twist consisted of verbatim quotes and calling Holdren Obama’s “climate czar.”

Since Holdren’s clarification wasn’t very clear, the same CNSNews reporter asked the scientist at a later meeting how de-development could be implemented “through the free market economy.” Holdren brushed him off with, “Look, this is a stale topic. If you read it and you have a problem, you're misreading it.”

Okay, let's read it and see. You can find it on the website of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

Did Holdren write about de-developing America? Yes.

Did he say anything about implementing de-development “through the free market economy”? No. Quite the opposite.

What he really wrote was, “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.”

After Obama’s Monday de-development announcement, this is not a stale topic and we’re not misreading it.

Read further. How would Holdren’s “political effort” implement de-development? “Resources and energy must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries.”

And what is Holdren’s opening move in de-development? “Political pressure must be applied immediately to induce the United States government to assume its responsibility to halt the growth of the Ameri­can population.”

Holdren’s paradise? “Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being.”

That's still Holdren. He was caught in a 2008 video clip saying that we should use tax revenue from a cap and trade-type bill to pay other countries in the global south.

That’s it – the Holdren de-development path to “love, beauty, peace, and plenty.”

Well, you can’t de-develop “through the free market economy” and that’s not what he had in mind. Read it yourself. He lied. De-development requires an autocratic government, a disenfranchised industrial class and the suppression of individual liberties, which is not too different from current conditions.

What’s missing from Holdren’s prodigiously accomplished and honored career in academia and government is any experience in business and industry – the free market economy – which contributes to his “best director of everybody else’s life” hubris.

The closest Holdren has come to the free market economy is his affiliation, 1992-2008, with the activist nonprofit Woods Hole Research Center (not the oceanographic institute). WHRC’s founder, George Woodwell, was one of several activists who campaigned from 1985 to 1988 to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, along with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Michael Oppenheimer, who was noted for his climate activism previously in this space.

Holdren was WHRC president from 2005 to his Obama appointment in 2008, with annual compensation reaching $292,000. WHRC has received 319 foundation grants totaling over $28 million since 1999. Its largest donor (over $12 million) is the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation ($5.6 billion assets).

A substantial amount of the Moore Foundation’s grant money comes from large investments in fossil fuel funds and firms including Celero Energy, Enervest Energy and Natural Gas Partners. Holdren’s foundation-funded, industry-derived salary at WHRC looks to be the closest he ever got to the free market economy – not counting the source of taxpayer funding and grants and endowments he has enjoyed.

But why say he meant to de-develop through the free market economy? He was a White House official when he said that. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding: the public trust he must honor is not a test of cunning. It is a test of character.

RON ARNOLD, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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Ron Arnold

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