Obama’s population bomber

Yuval Levin points out that Barack Obama’s science advisor John Holdren included in a 2007 speech a respectful reference to Paul Ehrlich’s utterly discredited 1968 book The Population Bomb. He might as well have referenced phrenology or necromancy.

The Population Bomb — named one of the worst books of the 20th century by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute — began with one of the most infamously mistaken prophecies ever published:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970’s the world will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.

Wrong. The mass famines never happened. World population, which was about 3.5 billion when Erhlich wrote that, is now about 6 billion, and humanity has never been more well-fed than it is today. Far from a population “explosion,” what the world now faces — especially in industrialized nations — is a population implosion. In Europe, birth rates in recent decades have been disastrously below what demographers call the replacement rate (2.1 average lifetime births per woman) needed to maintain a stable population size.

Yet many people (Ted Turner notoriously among them), continue to pretend that Ehrlich’s misguided warning that “mankind will breed itself into oblivion” was accurate, and to push programs based on Ehrlich’s 1968 ultimatum:

We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out. Population control is the only answer.

To speak of population growth — i.e., people having babies — as a “cancer” reflects an almost genocidal misanthropy. That Obama would choose as his science adviser Holdren, a believer in such malevolent hokum, is a disgrace.

UPDATE: Via Memeorandum and Ross Douthat, I learn that I’m arriving a little late to this dance. John Tierney is all over the Holdren appointment, revealing that Obama’s advisor was one of the “experts” consulted by Ehrlich in his ill-advised bet with the late Julian Simon. Reason magazine’s Ron Bailey has even more on the consistently wrong Dr. Holdren.

One global-warming fanatic recognizes Holdren as a kindred spirit: “Obama is dead serious about the strongest possible action on global warming.”

I hate to pick a fight with the Obama administration over science. After all, I’m hoping to get federal funding for my own research.

UPDATE II: Obama makes it official. And in his radio address, he declares:

“Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. . . . It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology.”

This eye-rolling is giving me a headache.

Here’s video of Obama’s speech:

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