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Smear: John Holdren Called For "Zero Economic Growth"

September 17, 2009 9:57 am ET

John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, has been accused of calling for "zero economic growth." The right-wing smear machine spreading these falsehoods relied on out-of-context descriptions, not endorsements, of existing views from a 30 year-old text book.


John Holdren Called For "Zero Economic Growth"

"It is by now abundantly clear that the GNP cannot grow forever. Why should it?" Holdren asked in a 1977 college science textbook he co-wrote with Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, titled "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment."

"Why should we not strive for zero economic growth (ZEG) as well as zero population growth?" [CNSNews, 7/31/09]


Michelle Malkin

The Truth

The Rumor Is Based On A Three-Decade-Old, Three-Author College Textbook.  As reported by the Washington Times, Dr. Holdren's staff issued a statement saying, "This material is from a three-decade-old, three-author college textbook. Dr. Holdren addressed this issue during his confirmation when he said he does not believe that determining optimal population is a proper role of government. Dr. Holdren is not and never has been an advocate for policies of forced sterilization." [Washington Times, 7/15/09]

The Cherry-Picked Textbook Passages Quoted Are Mere Descriptions, Not Endorsements, Of Existing Views.  As reported by the Catholic News Service, who spoke with Holdren's co-authors: "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.'" [Catholic News Service, 7/15/09]

Textbook's Co-Authors Said Rumors Based On An "Encyclopedic Textbook Where Description Can Be Misrepresented As Endorsement." As reported by the Washington Times: "The White House also passed along a statement from the Ehrlichs that said, in part, 'anybody who actually wants to know what we and/or Professor Holdren believe and recommend about these matters would presumably read some of the dozens of publications that we and he separately have produced in more recent times, rather than going back a third of a century to find some formulations in an encyclopedic textbook where description can be misrepresented as endorsement.'" [Washington Times, 7/15/09]

Obviously, Dr. Holdren Supports Economic Growth

Holdren: "This Country Has Long Demonstrated A High Capacity For Turning Novel Ideas Into New Businesses." Speaking during his Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Holdren said, "In concert with helping to nurture the R&D enterprise in general, OSTP has an important function in promoting the translation of the results of R&D into new products and services that benefit Americans through widespread application. This country has long demonstrated a high capacity for turning novel ideas into new businesses and improved services. Fostering this capacity for translating science and technology into widespread benefit is going to be crucial in rebuilding our economy as well as in addressing our most pressing challenges in energy, environment, health and national security." [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]

Holdren: "We Need To Work To Improve The Conditions That All Of Our Citizens Face Economically." Speaking during his Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. Holdren said, "I think the key thing today is that we need to work to improve the conditions that all of our citizens face economically, environmentally and in other respects. And we need to aim for something that I have for years been calling 'sustainable prosperity.'" [Holdren Confirmation Hearing via Federal News Service, 2/12/09]

Holdren Believes His Job Is To Help Foster Advances In Science & Technology To Benefit Economy.  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]


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