The office of President Obama’s “science czar” John Holdren has responded to concerns Holdren co-authored a book which allegedly contained comments supporting coercive population control measures. A spokesman for the department said that Holdren disavowed such policies at his confirmation hearing.
Holdren is currently Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
In 1977, he co-authored the 1,000 page book “Ecoscience” with Paul and Anne Ehrlich. The book included several descriptions of possible population control measures, including the addition of “sterilants” to the water supply to prevent human conception.
One section, titled “Population Law,” cited the radical group Zero Population Growth and said “it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”
“Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.”
Another section discussed a “planetary regime” that might be given responsibility for “determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries' shares within their regional limits.”
In Tuesday e-mails to CNA, Rick Weiss, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Director of Strategic Communications, said the material at issue was from “a three-decade-old, three-author textbook used in colleges to teach energy policy.”
He could “easily dismiss” fears that Dr. Holdren favors government control over population growth.
“He made that quite clear in his confirmation hearing,” Weiss said.
He then quoted a section of the confirmation transcript in which Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) asked Holdren whether he thinks “determining optimal population is a proper role of government.”
“No, Senator, I do not,” was Holdren’s reply, according to Weiss and a transcript of the proceedings.
In other remarks at the confirmation hearing, not cited by Weiss, Holdren told Sen. Vitter he no longer thinks it is “productive” to focus on the “optimum population” for the United States. “I don't think any of us know what the right answer is.”
According to Weiss, Holdren “made clear that he did not believe in coercive means of population control” and is not an advocate for measures expressed in the book “and they are certainly not endorsed by this administration in any way.”
Weiss also provided CNA with a statement from the book's other two authors, Paul and Anne Ehrlich.
The Ehrlichs said they had been “shocked” at what they called the “serious misrepresentation” of their and Holdren’s views.
“We were not then, never have been, and are not now 'advocates' of the Draconian measures for population limitation described -- but not recommended -- in the book's 60-plus small-type pages cataloging the full spectrum of population policies that, at the time, had either been tried in some country or analyzed by some commentator.”
Describing “Ecoscience” as a “textbook,” they said its descriptions can be “misrepresented as endorsement.”
Paul Ehrlich was the author of the 1968 bestselling book The Population Bomb, which predicted that massive famines in the 1970s would kill “hundreds of millions,” including Americans.
Coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations and abortions, have been used in China’s one-child policy. In Peru in the 1990s, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nations Population Fund provided support for what became an involuntary sterilization program which victimized an estimated 300,000 women.