Friday, October 30, 2009

John Holdren Quote Could be Accurate: That Bothers Me

I really don't know what to think of this.
"...For example, under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs could be enacted under the clauses that empower Congress to appropriate funds to provide for the general welfare and to regulate commerce, or under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such laws constitutionally could be very broad. Indeed, 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...."
You've probably never heard of my source for that, and I haven't been able to confirm that it's a quote from John Holdren's "Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions" (Paul R. Ehrlich; Anne H. Ehrlich; John P. Holdren. ISBN 0716705958 (1973)).1

The same source added:
"...To control population in America, Holdren further writes that he favors 'adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods.'..."
Naturally, people defending America's dominant culture insist that Obama's advisor for Science and Technology couldn't possibly have written anything like that. It's sort of like eugenics: before people in Auschwitz and Dachau were found and rescued, saying that the unfit should be purged for the good of the race sounded pretty cool and sophisticated; after, not so much.

Naturally, there have been what is becoming the usual warning: criticism of the positions of President Obama's advisers is wrong. "Right-wing Attacks on Science Adviser Continue", Pratt, Andrew Plemmons, Science Progress (July 21, 2009) for example.

Disco, the Population Explosion, and All That

I think the copyright date of that book Holdren co-authored is important: 1973. So is the name of one of the co-authors, Paul Ehrlich.

Back in the mid-seventies all right-thinking (left, actually) people on campus knew that if American imperialist aggression leading to a nuclear apocalypse didn't kill us, the population explosion would. Paul Ehrlich made quite a name for himself, saying that Earth couldn't possibly support all those people. (Emotion Trumping Reason...)

Finally 1980, 1985, and 1999 passed.
  • The American life expectancy did not drop to 42
  • Famine and disease didn't purge humanity down to a nice 1,500,000,000 or so
  • The number of Americans stubbornly refused to get down to Ehrlich's 22,600,000 survivors
The bleak outlook that just has to be so is now Global Warming. But Paul Ehrlich still has his fans. (December 23, 2008)

The point of that history lesson is that presidential adviser John Holdren was a lot younger in 1973 - and following the lead of what he'd probably been told were the best minds of the period. I wasn't surprised to see that Mr. Holdren's co-authored book was published in 1973. I was doing time in college then, and remember how 'obvious' the perils of overpopulation were supposed to be.

However, I've also noticed that Earth's population has passed 6,000,000,000 - with food production keeping up and then some. Yes, people are starving: but it's a matter of getting food to them, not being unable to produce enough. ("Darfur and the United Nations: Something's Happening," Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 11, 2008))

I'd be willing to dismiss both Holdren quotes, except that I was there, on a college campus, back in the mid-seventies: and recognize a set of ideas that were the norm for earnest depopulators.

What bothers me is the possibility that John Holdren, like many others, may not have been paying more attention to this culture's 'serious thinkers,' and less to what's actually been happening, for the last third of a century.

Related posts:
Updated 6:12 p.m. Central (October 30, 2009)
I found a few typos, and a missing subheading, which have now been corrected.
1 I don't have a copy of the book on hand, don't have the budget to purchase one, and - given the 'publish now' pace of the blogosphere - don't have the weeks, or months, or year or so it could take to borrow a copy through a library system.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.