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Smear: John Holdren Believes An "Ecocatastrophe" Or "Thermonuclear War" Is Imminent

September 17, 2009 9:58 am ET

John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, has been accused of saying an "ecocatastrophe" is imminent.  The right-wing smear machine misrepresented a paper written by Dr. Holdren when he was 26 years old.  In reality, Dr. Holdren is within the scientific maintstream.

Smear: John Holdren Believes An "Ecocatastrophe" Or "Thermonuclear War" Is Imminent

In 1971, [Holdren] co-authored a paper in Global Ecology suggesting "some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century." [Glenn Beck, accessed 9/16/09]

Sources

Glenn Beck
Fox News
Jeff Jacoby
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

Truth

The Quote Is Taken Out Of Context From A Paper Written In 1971 - In The Middle Of The Cold War - When Holdren Was 26 Years Old.  When asked about the statement during his Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Holdren said, "That was a statement which, at least at the age of 26, I had the good sense to hedge by saying, 'almost certain.' The trends at the time were not positive, either with respect to the dangers of thermal nuclear war or with respect to ecological dangers of a wide variety of sorts. A lot of things were getting worse. I would argue that the motivation for looking at the downside possibilities, the possibilities that can go wrong if things continue in a bad direction, is to motivate people to change direction. That was my intention at the time." [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]

The Statement Was In No Way A Prediction, But Simply A "Description Of Possibilities." When asked about the statement during his Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Holdren said, "I would want to distinguish between predictions and description of possibilities which we would like to avert. And I think it is responsible to call attention to the dangers that society faces, so we'll make the investments and make the changes needed to reduce those dangers." [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]

Dr. Holdren's Views Have Changed Along With The Available Science.  Asked about a past statement that global climate change could cause sea levels to rise by 13 feet, Dr. Holdren said, "The newer analyses that have been done since the IPCC report came out, indicate that the upper limit for the year 2100 is probably between 1 and 2 meters. And those are the numbers that I now quote, because they are the latest science... I would no longer quote 13 feet, because newer science indicates that the upper limit is only about 6.5 feet." [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]

Dr. Holdren is well within the mainstream

Holdren Believes His Job Is To Help Foster Advances In Science & Technology To Benefit Economy, Environment And Security.  Speaking during his Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Holdren said, "That office has two broad areas of responsibility. And if confirmed by the Senate, I will give my enthusiastic attention to both of those.One of them is policy for science and technology, meaning policies for strengthening the research and development enterprise in the public and private sectors for science and technology education and training, and for fostering the conditions under which advances in science and technology can be translated into economic, environmental and security benefits for society at large. The other side of the office's responsibilities is science and technology for policy, which means ensuring that insights from science and engineering are available to our elected leaders as they shape economic policy, defense policy, health policy, environmental policy and so on." [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]

Dr. Holdren Was UNANIMOUSLY Confirmed In The U.S. Senate.  According to MSNBC, "The Senate on Thursday confirmed an expert on global climate change as President Obama's top adviser on science and technology policy... Even before Thursday's unanimous confirmation vote, Obama gave Holdren the task of fleshing out new procedures to guarantee scientific integrity in the policymaking process. Those procedures are due to be drawn up within two months." [MSNBC, 3/20/09]



 


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