John Holdren to be Obama's Science Advisor

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Eli Kintisch is reporting at the ScienceInsider blog that John Holdren, who is a Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of Program in Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Havard's John F. Kennedy School of Government will be tapped as science advisor by President-elect Barack Obama.

In his salad days, Holdren was a paid-up member of The Limits to Growth club. For example, in his 1971 Sierra Club book, Energy: A Crisis in Power, Holdren declared that "it is fair to conclude that under almost any assumptions, the supplies of crude petroleum and natural gas are severely limited. The bulk of energy likely to flow from these sources may have been tapped within the lifetime of many of the present population." More recently, Holdren has declared that the world is not running out energy and that even "peak oil" is debatable. 

Near the beginning of his career, Holdren introduced with his colleague, perennial population alarmist Paul Ehriich, the concept of the I=PAT equation. Human Impact on the environment is equal to Population x Affluence/consumption x Technology. All of which are supposed to intensify and worsen humanity's impact on the natural world. In the past Holdren has adhered to the common ecologist's disdain for insights from economics in helping solve environmental problems. See for example this excerpt from a co-authored 1995 essay on "The Meaning of Sustainability": 

The greatest disparities in interpretation of the relationships between the human enterprise and Earth's life support systems seem, in fact, to be those between ecologists and economists. Members of both groups tend to be highly self-selected and to differ in fundamental worldviews. Most ecologists have a passion for the natural world, where the existence of limits to growth and the consequences of exceeding those limits are apparent. Ecologists recognize that a unique combination of highly developed manual dexterity, language, and intelligence has allowed humanity to increase vastly the capacity of the planet to support Homo sapiens (Diamond 1991); nonetheless, they perceive humans as being ultimately subject to the same sorts of biophysical constraints that apply to other organisms.

Economists, in contrast, tend to receive little or no training in the physical and natural sciences (Colander and Klamer 1987). Few explore the natural world on their own, and few appreciate the extreme sensitivity of organisms—including those upon which humanity depends for food, materials, pharmaceuticals, and free ecosystem services—to seemingly small changes in environmental conditions. Most treat economic systems as though they were completely disconnected from the planet's basic life support systems. The narrow education and inclinations of economists in these respects are thus a major source of disagreements about sustainability.

Holdren and his co-authors later acknowledge ecological ignorance about the principles of economics, but don't express any urgency in learning about them

However, at least with regard to technology, Holdren now apparently sees technology as a solution to environmental problems and human poverty.Holdren in his 2006 inaugural lecture as the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science noted:

Advances in technology help meet basic human needs and drive economic growth through increased productivity, reduced costs, reduced resource use and environmental impact, and new or improved products and services…

The considerable progress that has been made in some important respects (such as in life expectancy, which has been improving virtually everywhere other than sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Union) has been the result of a combination of economic and social factors, but improvements in technology appear to have been the most important. Among other advances, widespread gains in the productivity of agriculture, which played a crucial role in improving nutrition and health in the developing world, were driven above all by investments in agricultural S&T that yielded, in strictly economic terms, enormous rates of return; and export-led economic growth, providing the means with which the public and private sectors in many developing countries have contributed to lifting portions of their populations out of poverty, has likewise been driven strongly by technology.

While Holdren makes rhetorical gestures toward the private sector, he still seems to think that new technologies arise full-blown from government agencies and university laboratories.

In any case, Obama is clearly signaling with the appointment of a Green Team, including Holdren as science advisor, Carol Browner as "energy/climate czar," Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy, and Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator, that he means to make a big federal push on alternative fuels and carbon rationing.

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  1. As we all know, Rick Warren is much more important!!

  2. So . . . you are suggesting I invest in economically non-viable businesses that rely on some fed money for their profit? Nope. Risk isn’t something I go looking for in my investments. Even one that’s claiming to be backed up by taxpayers.

  3. “Human Impact on the environment is equal to Population x Affluence/consumption x Technology”

    Shouldn’t that be HI=PACT instead of I=PAT?

  4. All of which are supposed to intensify and worsen humanity’s impact on the natural world.

    I never got this. Are people not a natural part of the world or something? Are we fukkin’ robots or angels or wut?

  5. We are so screwed.

  6. Reaching for my pitchfork and torch……

    I think I heard the word “science” in there somewhere.

  7. You can tell there’s trouble when the science advisor graduated from a School of Government as opposed to a College of Arts and Science.

    Speaking of peak oil, I still remember a grad school lecture that mentioned how the would would completely run out of oil in 2008. I’ve got to send that professor a New Years card.

  8. This guy is soft science not hard science. This nation needed a science advisor that has done science at the bench. That understands both the role of university science, and importantly encouraging the private sector to do science and take risks. That is the growth in a new economy, in science and technology. This guy seems agenda driven, but I’m willing to watch and be proven otherwise.

  9. I=PAT? I don’t think so. Technology is all about getting more out of your inputs. I’d say I=PA/T is more accurate. Furthermore, PA ~= dT/dt, that is, change in technology over time is proportionate to population times affluence.

    Only non-starving people care about the environment.

  10. I never got this. Are people not a natural part of the world or something? Are we fukkin’ robots or angels or wut?

    From the philosophical point of view, of course we are. Just as an asteroid coming to kill us.

  11. Only non-starving people care about the environment.

    Are you saying that establishing different priorities given differing circumstances is illegitimate?

  12. Maurkov,

    Of course I=PAT is off the mark. Even Holdren, who helped put the theory out there, has abandoned it.

    Only non-starving people care about the environment. is a pretty good summation of the concept of sustainable development, as articulated at the 1992 Rio conference. Sustainable Development is the guiding principle of environmentalism these days, not the static, limits-based environmentalism (“We’re gonna use up the trees!”) of the first Earth Day.

  13. Am I wrong in thinking that eventually the best way to maintain the Earth’s natural beauty will be to colonize other planets?

    /Goes and sits in the corner, rolls a handful of 20-sided dice.

  14. Many people have stayed up all night in many dorm rooms pondering the meaning of the word “natural” and humanity’s place, but that’s sort of like noting that most of the volume of atoms is empty space, so nothing’s really solid, man.

    It’s still going to hurt if I hit you with a 2×4, and there’s still a meaningful difference between a parking lot and a forest.

  15. In addition to a science adviser, we need a National Academy of Sciences study of the Peak Oil energy crisis.

    Independent studies (reviewed in the Peak Oil Report

    http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html

    by Clifford J. Wirth) conclude that Peak Oil production will occur (or has occurred) between 2005 to 2010 (projected year for peak in parentheses), as follows:

    * Association for the Study of Peak Oil (2007)

    * Rembrandt Koppelaar, Editor of “Oil Watch Monthly” (2008 to 2010)

    * Tony Eriksen, Oil stock analyst (2008)

    * Matthew Simmons, Energy investment banker, (2007)

    * T. Boone Pickens, Oil and gas investor (2007)

    * U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2005)

    * Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Princeton professor and retired shell Geologist (2005)

    * Sam Sam Bakhtiari, Retired Iranian National Oil Company geologist (2005)

    * Chris Skrebowski, Editor of “Petroleum Review” (2010)

    * Sadad Al Husseini, former head of production and exploration, Saudi Aramco (2008)

    * Energy Watch Group in Germany (2006)

    Independent studies conclude that global crude oil production will now decline from 74 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time, demand will increase. Oil supplies will be even tighter for the U.S. As oil producing nations consume more and more oil domestically they will export less and less. Because demand is high in China, India, the Middle East, and other oil producing nations, once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply. And since the U.S. represents one fourth of global oil demand, whatever oil we conserve will be consumed elsewhere. Thus, conservation in the U.S. will not slow oil depletion rates significantly.

    Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment. The independent scientists of the Energy Watch Group conclude in a 2007 report titled: “Peak Oil Could Trigger Meltdown of Society:”

    “By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame.”

    http://www.energywatchgroup.org/fileadmin/global/pdf/EWG_Press_Oilreport_22-10-2007.pdf

    With increasing costs for gasoline and diesel, along with declining taxes and declining gasoline tax revenues, states and local governments will eventually have to cut staff and curtail highway maintenance. Eventually, gasoline stations will close, and state and local highway workers won’t be able to get to work. We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel and gasoline powered trucks for bridge maintenance, culvert cleaning to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, and roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. With the highways out, there will be no food coming from far away, and without the power grid virtually nothing modern works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated building systems.

    This is documented in a free 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html

    I used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area with a good climate and good soil? Email: clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old USA-NH number 603-668-4207. http://survivingpeakoil.blogspot.com/

  16. jtuf wrote: “You can tell there’s trouble when the science advisor graduated from a School of Government as opposed to a College of Arts and Science. ”

    He went to MIT and got his PhD at Stanford.

    He only has a _position_ at the Kennedy School of Government. He also runs the Woods Hole oceanographic institute.

    Back in the sixties he consulted on things like “re-entry physics” for Lockheed.

  17. ‘Scientist’ wrote: “This guy is soft science not hard science. This nation needed a science advisor that has done science at the bench.”

    From his CV:

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:
    1973 – Present: Faculty Consultant, Magnetic Fusion Energy (subsequently Energy) Division
    Fall 1986: Visiting Physicist, Theory Group, Magnetic Fusion Energy Division
    1994 – Present: Faculty Consultant, Laser & Environmental Directorate

    Sounds pretty hard-science to me.

  18. I used to live in NH-USA, but moved to a sustainable place.

    A place with plenty of water and a decently long growing season is plenty sustainable.

  19. mediageek wrote: “Am I wrong in thinking that eventually the best way to maintain the Earth’s natural beauty will be to colonize other planets?”

    Then vote Democratic. The Republicans will be stymied by their base’s insistence that the God didn’t create any other inhabitable planets – if he did the Bible would say so.

  20. mediageek | December 18, 2008, 6:58pm | #
    Am I wrong in thinking that eventually the best way to maintain the Earth’s natural beauty will be to colonize other planets?

    /Goes and sits in the corner, rolls a handful of 20-sided dice.

    Yes you are wrong.

    Although, that is a good strategy to preserve humans as a species.

    I want to make a D&D related quip here, but I never played, so I don’t know any appropriate lingo…

    Eleventy-se7en power points er something….

  21. Also, Dr Wirth, america was a transcontinental nation without oil or highways. And specifically a lot of the stuff in this sentence:
    When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, large transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables from great distances. is carried by rail as most components are too heavy for trucks.

    Lastly, do you honestly think people will just say ‘omg gas prices are so high!’ and do absolutely nothing? Or are they likely to build and buy new vehicles that run on nat gas, fuel cells, or electric?

  22. joe, TAO,

    Regarding: “natural”… a suggested reading.

    The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology by Max Oelschlaeger.

    Against a dubious reconstruction of the Paleolithic notion of a sacred, shared wilderness, the author deconstructs the modernists’ concepts of wild nature as “matter in motion.” The scientific revolution in particular is shown to have widened the fissure in our cultural idea of wilderness, between the idea of nature as our “magna mater”–an organic model of the cosmos–and modernist models in history, cosmology, philosophy, and even in the author’s survey of today’s ecology movement (from “resourcism” to eco-feminism).

    Actually a good read despite how unappealing that review excerpt sounds.

  23. Why send those rockets into space when there is so much the government needs to fix here on Earth?

  24. there’s still a meaningful difference between a parking lot and a forest.

    About 30 years difference once the parking lot is abandoned.

  25. Only non-starving people care about the environment.

    Are you saying that establishing different priorities given differing circumstances is illegitimate?

    I was suggesting that in the I=PAT equasion, ‘A’ has a non-linear contribution to ‘I’.

    If the theory’s been abandoned, I guess I should forgive him. Not all that long ago I almost gave money to a group calling for negative population growth.

  26. It’s still going to hurt if I hit you with a 2×4, and there’s still a meaningful difference between a parking lot and a forest.

    So, uh, people aren’t part of the natural world, is that what you’re saying?

    People, like every other species, do stuff to perpetuate the survival of the species. That’s about as natural as it gets.

  27. Re: Jon H

    His “CV” also indicates that he did a post doc in humanities and social sciences. I agree this guy is smart and qualified for environmental science, energy policy. But nearly everything about h suggests he’s never been at the bench doing science. It is one thing to be a beauracrat, consultant, a presidet of AAAS, and quite another to have been a bench scientist. I’m sure he’s done experiments of some sort but I feel like this is analogous to have a general who’s never led get promoted to joint chiefs of staff.

    Science (hard) has been at the bottom of this nations priorities for too long. This guy will be all about the enviroment, period! I don’t anything in this guys cred that say he has biology in mind, biotech, etc…which is our countiess strong suit. Will he encourage entrepreneurial science?

    I see him as a policy guy, not a deep thinker, scientist type who wants knowledge, craves it, for the the advacement of business, of man!

  28. Scientist,

    Are you pleased by the choice of Steve Chu (Nobel Prize winner in physics, erswhile director of Lawrence Berkeley Lab) for Secretary of Energy?

    Also, we should not that Holdren will be Obama’s science adviser, not in charge of anything _per se_.

  29. “People, like every other species, do stuff to perpetuate the survival of the species. That’s about as natural as it gets.”

    Oh, enough. You’re playing dumb.

    Humanity clearly has a greater understanding, and control over its environment.

    Libertarians should be familiar with this concept since they worship at the alter of “The Will to Power.”

    We can continue to debate what humanity should do, if anything about that understanding, but to pretend as if our position is not unique in the natural world is pure intellectual dishonesty.

  30. Humanity clearly has a greater understanding, and control over its environment.

    And is that not in their nature to be that way?

    Here’s what irks me: environmentalists act as if human beings are something special above and beyond the “natural” world. we are not. We developed through evolution, on this planet, just like every other species, and we do shit and build shit, just like many other species, to perpetuate our survival and personal well-being and happiness.

    That is the extent to which environmentalism should concern itself. The concern should not be for “trees as valuable in and of themselves”; the inquiry should be “do these trees serve a purpose, and it would it be wise to keep them around?”

  31. The Angry Optimist,

    What makes human flourishing the standard of value? If we accept that as the standard of value, why not the flourishing of all living creatures?

    (I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but playing devil’s advocate …)

  32. The Republicans will be stymied by their base’s insistence that the God didn’t create any other inhabitable planets – if he did the Bible would say so.
    I have a son!

  33. although the silver lining is that there won’t be a creationist around…

    that should count for something.

  34. Given that we are not separate from the natural world, but part of it, then we face the same threats as any other species in similar situations. As in population overshoot and die-off. Google “William Catton Overshoot”.

  35. “once global oil production begins to decline, demand will always be higher than supply.”

    OK, it’s still early, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve read today. Only if price is artificially constrained to be below the market clearing rate can demand exceed supply for any length of time. Saying it will ‘always’ do so makes about as much sense as claiming No Child Left Behind will lead to all children testing above average.

  36. Human Impact on the environment is equal to Population x Affluence/consumption x Technology.

    This guy really shouldn’t be the science advisor, if this formula is his claim to fame – since about two minutes of historical analysis would show that this just isn’t borne out by the evidence.

    The population of the Meditteranean basin had a much higher impact on the environment during antiquity, when the population was lower, consumption was lower, and technology was at a lower level than today. Species loss, deforestation, soil loss, etc. were all greater before the fall of Rome throughout the Meditteranean region than they are today. Greece didn’t always look like a bare rock – people made it look that way, and they did so in a way that stands this guy’s formula on its head.

    Most ecologists have a passion for the natural world, where the existence of limits to growth and the consequences of exceeding those limits are apparent.

    Although the rest of the quote deals with the limitations in the economists’ world view, the root of the limitations in the ecologists’ world view can be found by exploring this sentence a little further.

    I would submit that, despite the fact that biology as a discipline teaches us that ecological systems are in constant flux, at least a part of the “passion for the natural world” described in this quote is aesthetic and this leads ecologists to long for an impossible stasis.

    The natural world is pretty, you see, and on some level ecologists approach it as a plastic work of art. Even though they know scientifically that the natural world is changing all the time, aesthetically they revolt against that and want time to freeze their vistas into place. They think that if they just keep man out of the picture, they can accomplish this impossible goal.

    And this can lead to emotional reactions that are all out of proportion to the actual quantifiable human impact under consideration. You can see this by considering a pretty common emotional scenario: Picture yourself in a beautiful Antarctic landscape, in an endless field of white under a bold and clear blue sky. All at once, a candy wrapper is blown in front of you by the wind. Although the actual environmental impact of that candy wrapper on the Antarctic ecology and the biosphere in general is completely negligible, I think that the average person would be saddened and disgusted by it, and the average ecologist would shudder with rage, and everyone would chatter about the horrible mess Man was making of the world. Heck, even I would be disgusted – but that reaction would be emotional and aesthetic and not scientific. Economists may not have a sufficient grounding in the natural sciences to please Holdren – but the scientist competes with the artist [and the monk] in many ecologists, and that doesn’t please me.

  37. The Angry Optimist,

    you’re too smart to handle such discussions. 🙂 You’re like a god sitting in Olympus’s temple on a great throne, supervising order and harmony of the universe in accordance with your whims.

    Again, from the philosophical point of view, everything is natural. If an asteroid hit and killed us, that would be natural. Making a nuke and bombing a planet with it is natural. Spraying Agent Orange over Vietnam’s jungles is pretty natural too. Why not? After all, it’s one group of specimen getting stronger than another and forcing its will upon it. Even rodents have their small wars for territory.

    There is another one point of view. For a lack of desire to think about how it would be called, I will simply go with practical or commonly held. From this point, natural world is something that starts where woods begin and cities end. Oversimplification – yes! But much closer to what everyone means by saying ‘nature’ than your philosophical b/s.

    Again, equaling species philosophically may be ok. Practically – no! Otherwise, it would be the same deep ecology egalitarianism, turned not to protect, but to destroy.

    Now I should probably be looking forward your questions like ‘what is to destroy?’ etc.

    do these trees serve a purpose, and it would it be wise to keep them around?
    These are impossible to answer. There is no single purpose even from anthropocentric point, let alone ecocentric. The best way is to set aside portions of trees for this and that. Including for protection of biodiversity.

    Fluffy,

    They think that if they just keep man out of the picture, they can accomplish this impossible goal.

    The goal is not to freeze. You’re wrong. This is why it’s not about saving particular and each and every species – it is pretty achievable today by taking species into zoos, seed banks, etc. (for example, amur leopards are hundreds in numbers in zoos, but in Russia’s Far East they are only few dozens) – but protecting vast tracts of undeveloped land with ecosystems thriving on it and thus ensuring that melting pots of biodiversity work in accordance with principles of evolution.

    Yes, there is everything in it – science, aesthetics, religion, etc.. But it’s stupid to neglect that everyone of us act with a blend of these in a our day-to-day lives. It’s not about getting rid of anything but science – that’s not possible anyway whatever you fancy – but keeping them in good proportions.

    The task for libertarians would be showing that free markets could be helpful in achieving all this. But being utter non-environmentalist somehow became a rite of passage for libertarians. I’m feeling myself like an ugly duckling.

  38. The goal is not to freeze. You’re wrong.

    Sorry, but that just doesn’t line up with the types of campaigns environmentalists conduct.

    If there was an area of undeveloped land of 5000 square miles, and I advocated putting a single oil derrick on it, that advocacy would attract the scorn and outrage of environmentalists to a degree that vastly outweighed the actual impact of my action on the ecosystem.

    That means that we really can’t consider the motive a simple case of “protecting vast tracts of undeveloped land with ecosystems thriving on it and thus ensuring that melting pots of biodiversity work in accordance with principles of evolution”. That stuff would continue unabated even if I put up an oil derrick.

    The outrage my proposal would generate would be based on a deep-rooted emotional sense that the presence of an oil derrick would “spoil” the wilderness, even if 99.999999999% of the wilderness in question chugged along blissfully unaware of what I was doing. I don’t see how we can characterize that sense of “spoilage” in a way that doesn’t include the notion that change is a violation.

  39. I entered U-Mich School of Natural Resources in 1970, a few months after the first earth day, caught up in a new focus on things environmental. One of the seminal works of the era was the book “Limits to Growth” from the Club of Rome. This book, which is very hard to find now (for good reason, I suppose), made many predictions about how bad things would be in the future. Most of that future is now in the past and virtually none of their predictions came to pass.

    One of the defining characteristics of the radical environmental movement is that they always predict catastrophe in the future, a minimum of five years but preferably in the 10-25 year range. Near enough to alarm people but far enough that when none of it comes to pass all their hysteria is easily shoved down the memory hole.

    Although there are many well-intentioned “useful idiots” who buy into the hysteria, radical environmentalism is really less about the environment than it is about scaring people into allowing more Government control of their lives. It is always some PhD who fancies himself a wise philosopher-king who makes these wild predictions. These people’s conceit is that the world would be a much better place if the great unwashed let the wise men run everything. It sticks in their craw that moneygrubbing commercial types usually wield more influence and make more money than they do.

    These people are the true danger.

  40. I think it’s good news, on the principle that an actual scientist, who’s inclined by nature and training to seek empirical solutions to problems, is a better bet than an ideologically driven know-nothing.

    People who hate environmentalists won’t like it, because he’s not a former oil company executive, but you can’t have everything.

  41. Holdren is a brilliant choice: a real scientist who understands the connections between science, society, and policy. Not a “lab” scientist? He’s forgotten more science than most of us will ever know, and he doesn’t forget much. Look at his cv — this guy’s expertise is vast: he’s done top-level work on the rational use of science in the areas of nuclear power, renewable energy, risk assessment, population dynamics, environmental science, reducing the risks of proliferation, national energy policy, and much, much more. And his list of honors, from the real scientific community, is remarkable, including serving as head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, giving the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo on behalf of Pugwash, and on and on.

    The only reason for “Reason” and the right to be afraid of him is that he is driven by integrity and the proper role of science, rather than ideology and politics. That’ll be a “radical” change from the past eight years. But if we on the right prefer ideological science rather than real science, we’re truly screwed. Phew.

  42. How any libertarian thought Obama was a good choice, I will never know. And save your breath if you are going to make some kind of reference to Bushitler fascism, etc. As we’ve seen, Barry has no intention of changing any of the counter-terrorism stuff. He probably won’t do anything about the Drug War either.

    Heck, he just got finished promising to make the Department of Labor more important and involved in the life of working people. Great.

  43. Holdren and his co-authors later acknowledge ecological ignorance about the principles of economics, but don’t express any urgency in learning about them.

    It’s a good thing we’re getting rid of that intellectually incurious Bush team.

    Holdren is a brilliant choice: a real scientist who understands the connections between science, society, and policy.

    Yes, he understands them so well he predicted most natural resources would be exhausted by ten years ago.

  44. Science is Key said:

    Holdren is a brilliant choice: a real scientist who understands the connections between science, society, and policy. Not a “lab” scientist? He’s forgotten more science than most of us will ever know, and he doesn’t forget much. Look at his cv — this guy’s expertise is vast: he’s done top-level work on the rational use of science in the areas of nuclear power, renewable energy, risk assessment, population dynamics, environmental science, reducing the risks of proliferation, national energy policy, and much, much more. And his list of honors, from the real scientific community, is remarkable, including serving as head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, giving the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo on behalf of Pugwash, and on and on.

    I tend to distrust priesthoods that demand limitations on my rights based on failed predictions. At least the Medieval Roman Church (the West’s previous supranational ruling class) was smart enough to demand Indulgences based on predictions that cannot be proved or disproved. Your stupid Ivy University Brahminate cannot even do that.

    People should read “Limits To Growth” and also books by Paul Ehrlich (such as “The Population Bomb”). Ruling Priesthoods tend to be weakened and destroyed when they overcharge ordinary people based on false predictions. Even the Medieval Roman Church began to decline when Protestants offered cheaper salvation. Be careful members of the Western Brahminate, there other ruling classes much smarter than you.

  45. Obama, the Chicago thug continues his conquest to destroy America. This guy is a clear and present danger to us………………

  46. As John Tierney points out, Holdren was one of the leaders in the hate on Bjorn Lomborg in Scientific American, and continues to cast aspirations on how people who disagree with him scientifically are “dangerous.”

  47. mediageek,

    Heh, what are the odds I’d run into someone who gambles with icosahedrons ?

  48. I suspect he had to pass the political/world view sniff test for belief in man-made global warming, despite the compelling evidence to the contrary. We’re in a cooling phase folks, and man-made GW is a political movement! Once the political “stigma” of speech & debate that risks slowing down the AGW grant gravy train begins to ebb due to more and more people speaking out, watch for the trend below to accelerate dramatically. Contrary to the “thousands” of scientists in the UN report, read the last sentence below…

    POZNAN, Poland – The UN global warming conference currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to the over 400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

  49. Not to nit-pick DaveS, but I don’t believe those 650 dissenting scientists have done the same level of detailed review of the work on the problem as the IPCC. If they want to make a case, the way to do it is to collaborate and present their evidence at a similar level of detail to the IPCC.

    Another nit, the 52 scientists who authored the current IPCC report are supported by a much larger organization with 2500 scientific expert reviewers, more than 800 contributing authors, and more than 450 lead authors.

  50. To begin, John is a PhD in physics from Stanford not a school of government person. He is a technocrat and he is reasonable. His early work was in plasma physics, specifically fusion. But I do not know what the role of his politics will be as advisor, nor what he will have to say or foster to keep his job.

    He is however, naturally outspoken and I hope that will be his saving grace.

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