The Science (Fiction) Czar

18 07 2009

Imagine you’re the nation’s most powerful elected official, and you’re trying to fill out your administration’s appointed positions.  You have presumably thousands of qualified, willing individuals who would be more than eager to put their careers aside and serve their country to the best of their ability—yet you somehow manage to pick pass over hundreds of suitable persons in favor of the one with the most checkered past.

I call this puzzling phenomenon the Geithner Conundrum.  Everyone is well aware of our Treasury Secretary, the only man with the intellectual heft and financial acumen needed to save the country’s economy or something, and his tax issues.  Poor Tom Daschle’s tax indiscretions actually cost him the HHS spot.  Statistically, at least one of his appointees had to have paid their taxes, right?

That man—perhaps the sole taxpayer in the entire Executive Branch—is John Holdren, Obama’s Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (colloquially, the Science Czar).

Don't be decieved by the friendly-looking beard.  This man is a nut.

Don't be deceived by the friendly-looking beard. This man is a nut.

True, the man paid his taxes.  No one can deny that he has impressive academic and professional credentials, either.  But he did kinda sorta co-author a 1977 book calling for mass forced sterilization under the tender, loving iron fist of a “Planetary Regime” to combat the rather unfounded problem of overpopulation.  No, that’s not a joke—take a few minutes to digest the contents of that link.  It’s pretty incredible stuff.

A lot of it seems too ridiculous to take seriously.  Birth control in the water supply?  That’s straight out of a bad middle-school level dystopian sci-fi novel.  So is the naming of the so-called “Planetary Regime” that would oversee population growth (or lack thereof) and resource management.  Couldn’t he have at least given it a believable name, like the United Nations or something?

Before you rush to Holdren’s defense by claiming that his words are being taken out of context, make sure you’ve read the section in the above link on just that.  The daring, mysterious blogger who broke this story, known to the world only as “Zombie,” provides entire pages of the book in which these outrageous statements are made, Ecoscience, to contextualize them.

Again, I question why exactly Holdren had to be picked to fill the Science Czar slot when there are countless other qualified academic types that could have done the job at least as well that didn’t, you know, advocate forced abortions at one point.  Best case scenario: Obama’s administration sucks at thoroughly vetting candidates.  Worst case scenario: they saw what he wrote and just didn’t care.

Even Holdren adequately recanted his chilling statements on population control during pre-appointment hearings (whether he did is a matter of debate), the fact stands that he was swept up in a sensationalistic theory that demanded immediate and poorly though-out action.  Overpopulation was apparently as big of a concern to academics in the 1970s as Global Warming Climate Change is now, and thirty years later, the hand-wringing over apocalyptic scenarios is laughable.

Holdren thought a U.S. population of 280 million was a tipping point, and we are still quite comfortable at 306 million plus right now.  If climate change is indeed human caused, we will adapt—just as we adapted to the supposed crisis of “overpopulation,” with no human culling or returns to the stone age required.

We should all watch this Holdren fellow carefully.  It would be hard to believe that he still concerned enough about overpopulation to start dumping the Pill into our water supplies, but his academic history indicates that he is prone to subscribing wholesale to untested (and indeed, largely untestable) theories.  Just substitute climate change for overpopulation and you’ll see why there is still cause for alarm.  Thirty years ago, he wrote books about what he thought needed to be done.  Now, thanks to Obama, he is in a position to actually put his ideas into action.

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