The 'Science Czar' is the unofficial title of the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is also Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Thus, he has an important role in determining policy on all matters involving science and technology, including, presumably, research.
Barack Obama's pick for this position is a certain John Holdren, PhD, a physicist who has among other things taught Environmental Policy at Harvard (go figure). This has not prevented him from making a bit of an overstatement regarding global warming, stating that sea levels might rise to as much as 13 feet (the IPCC 4th assessment report on climate change, which is largely viewed as authoritative, predicts 23 inches in its absolute worst-case scenario - it can be accessed here).
But this is not the first instance, nor by far the worst, in which he has seriously overestimated the state of the planet's decline. In 1977, he co-authored a book with Paul R. Ehrlich (author of the influential book The Population Bomb) and his wife, Anne H. Ehrlich, named Ecoscience - Population, Resources, Environment. The book adresses the issue of overpopulation, which it sees as an alarming and imminent danger to all of humanity, including the United States itself (on another occasion, he stated that the US would not be able to support a population of 280 million by 2040; as of 2009 the population is well over 300 million and the problem faced by most people in the area of nutrition is not exactly that they have too little food). To counter this danger, the authors argue for the following propositions:
- Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
- The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;
- Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
- People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" - in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
- A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of the lives of all human persons - using an armed international police force.
Surely this is exaggerated? Nope. The guy who uncovered it all has provided scans of pages in the book at his website. It is absolutely clear that the authors are endorsing these propositions. But it must be out of context then? Well, reading the quotes in context arguably only makes them scarier. Do read the whole thing; it provides quite the insight into the mind of a certain strand of radical Environmentalist Malthusianism which wants to sacrifice human life and liberty to save the environment and ensure decent living standards for all (remaining) people. Did I say radical? No, it really isn't radical at all since the people who espoused it are apparently much respected in the scientific establishment and teach at Harvard.
The program outlined above is eugenics, plain and simple. There is very little difference between this and the eugenics program launched by the Nazis. The Nazis only resorted to direct killing of adult 'undesirables' at a late stage, but in the beginning the program was comprised of much the same elements: involuntary sterilization of 'undesirables' (mentally handicapped and people with hereditary defects) and forced removal of the children they already had. They, too, employed a police force which interfered in intimate details of the lives of all citizens. If anything, Holdren & al.'s program is even more radical than that of the Nazis. Now, the Nazis' motive was racial hygeine, while the motive of Holdren & al. was ensuring decent living standards for all humans on the planet and preventing environmental degradation caused by overpopulation. The latter are worthy aims, to be sure. But does the end justify the means? Those human persons who will have their rights curtailed, forced to being sterilized, abort their children or see them taken away by the authorities are not going to bloody well care about the motives behind these heinous and utterly despicable acts. They are evil no matter what purpose they are intended to serve (i.e., intrinsically evil).
The blogger whom the story originates with has not been able to identify any statement where Holdren distances himself from these views. Granted, the book was written in 1977, so a lot can have happened since then. Yet it still gives me the creeps that a person who has once displayed such profoundly twisted reasoning is now in charge of the scientific and technological policy of the world's only remaining superpower.
And even more, that this fellow was made a Professor of Energy and Resources at UC Berkeley - in 1978!
(Brought to my attention by the redoubtable Cube)