Part two of a three-part series
John P. Holdren, President Obama's top science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is one of the environmental movement's most venerated leaders.
He brought unmatched academic credentials to the White House staff, including a doctorate in physics from Stanford and a career spent teaching at some of the nation's most prestigious institutions of higher learning, among them the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he was the Theresa and John Heinz professor of environmental policy.
Obama clearly knew of Holdren's illustrious record when he named him to the White House staff. Announcing Holdren's appointment, Obama said, "A physicist renowned for his work on climate and energy, he's received numerous honors and awards for his contributions and has been one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change. I look forward to his wise counsel in the years ahead."
What Obama did not mention was that Holdren had argued in his writings that mankind faced a potential ecological catastrophe that required limiting population and redistributing wealth on a global basis.
In 1973, Holdren co-authored "Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions" with Stanford University ecologists Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. Paul Ehrlich was already famous by then for his 1968 best-seller, "The Population Bomb," which opened with this declaration: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash program embarked upon now."
Given the dire circumstances they believed man confronted, they understandably recommended dramatic solutions.
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This transformation would start with population control, which might eventually require involuntary measures if voluntary ones failed. "Several coercive proposals deserve discussion," they wrote, "mainly because societies may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birth rates are rapidly reversed by other means." They also advocated "de-developing" the United States.
"A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States," they wrote. "De-development 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."
In 1973, liberal environmentalists saw overpopulation as the agent of doom. In 2009, it was global warming. Yet over the years, their prescription has not varied: increase government control over people's lives and property.
The full Senate confirmed Holdren by unanimous consent. When he returned to the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for a hearing several months after his confirmation, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the committee chairman, expressed his admiration for the president's science adviser in terms that were apt for the role liberal environmentalists believe government officials ought to play in our lives.
"Dr. Holdren, I don't want to embarrass you," said Rockefeller, "but I sometimes refer to you as walking on water."
Terry Jeffrey, editor in chief of CNSNews.com, is author of "Control Freaks: 7 Ways Liberals Plan To Ruin Your Life," from which this article is adapted.