Reactions to John Holdren (Science Advisor)

Home, sweet home

Home, sweet home

John Holdren on David Letterman [via AAS Blog]

Chris Bowers: Hooray for Holdren

John Holdren has spent his career trying to save the planet: recently, that’s meant doing everything he can to stop global warming.

Bowers saw Holdren speak and wrote to a friend about it:

I saw John Holdren speak last night on global warming. It was one of the greatest technical talks I’ve ever seen. Without slides or anything, he simply walked through the whole subject, explaining every piece of the logic and the implications, taking every counterclaim and quietly dismantling it with cogent reason — and doing the same in response to any questions, with apparently exhaustive knowledge of the subject. The audience was captivated.

Climate Progress: Obama’s strongest message on climate yet

I have known Holdren for over a decade and have discussed energy/climate issues with him many times. He probably has more combined expertise on both climate science and clean energy technology than any other person who could plausibly have been named science adviser.

[…]As Holdren says, it is too late to prevent dangerous human-caused warming. But after eight years Bush spreading disinformation and muzzling scientists, putting Holdren in charge of the “bully pulpit of scienceâ€? is just what the nation and the planet need if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic warming.

Reason’s Ronald Bailey (and comment thread) take a somewhat contrarian view:

Holdren and his co-authors later acknowledge ecological ignorance about the principles of economics, but don’t express any urgency in learning about them. […]While Holdren makes rhetorical gestures toward the private sector, he still seems to think that new technologies arise full-blown from government agencies and university laboratories.

Physics Today Blog:

Last year, in a speech about energy and the environment last year at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Holdren said, “After 35 years of reflection on this predicament I have concluded that the environment is at the heart of the energy problem, that energy is at the heart of the environmental problem, and the intersection of the environment, the economy, and energy is the most vexing problem in the sustainable prosperity picture for developing and industrial countries alike.”

… Says [Fred] Dylla, [(executive director of the American Institute of Physics, which publishes Physics Today magazine,)] “His solid research as a physicist speaks to his scientific credentials, but his extensive and highly-respected work on energy technology and policy, global environmental change, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation attest to a remarkable man who believes that science and technology must play a crucial role in improving global economic and sociopolitical conditions in both developed and developing countries.”

Phil Plaitt, Bad Astronomy @ Discover:

[Here’s my opinion: Awe. Some. Holdren has some pretty good credentials, including on climate change. That last bit allows me to say, with all the schadenfreude you care to assign to me, that I hope this makes global warming deniers cry into their oil stock portfolios.

It fills me to overflowing with warm fuzzies to hear all this news from Obama’s organization […]. It’ll be nice to have someone in the White House who is not an anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-reality thug. Very nice indeed.

5 responses to “Reactions to John Holdren (Science Advisor)”

  1. Strangel

    Of course he is going to choose a global warming fundamentalist. What better way to install a carbon tax? Guess they missed the fact that we’ve recently had the most glacier growth in 250 years which coincided exactly with the lack of sunspot activity. “Gee, what a novel idea! You mean, if the sun gets hotter the Earth gets hotter? Naw, It has to be people causing it… If it was anything else we wouldn’t be able to take their money right now.”

    Yes, CO2 levels have definitely gone up and that attributes something to it as well. But don’t think for a minute that we don’t already know how to make this world a better place – our governments will never have it though. There’s not enough money in it for their corporate owners.

  2. Hitch

    Strangel: Ditto. I still can’t believe the depth of arrogance involved in the whole AGW (anthropogenic global warming)scam. A ton of degreed working climatologists have figured out that the sun plays a major role in earth’s climate and that the sun also goes through hot periods.

    Hadcrut data for 2006 showed a global cooling of around .6 deg. C. A drop of half a degree world wide? Indeed. But does that stop the AGW fundamentalists? No, because ‘there’s gold in them thar hills’ for filling corporate pockets, creating Hegelian dialectic scenarios for power hungry politicians and fortune and glory for legacy mass media in creating sensational doomsday news.

    I say get rid of pollution for it’s own sake – something that should have been done decades ago.

  3. empiricist

    How is it that a few extremists have managed to transform a sincere concern for the environment and its conservation into a self deprecating religion of blame and doom. Like so many other experts, it is far more important to pontificate his mantra to the masses than it is to just present the facts. Preacher not scientist. As to the President elect’s choice of this gentleman as his “Science Advisor”, it is a fellatios one, intended to win him far more cocktail party invites abroad than his predecesor.

  4. Mike Lopez

    Well, I think global warming is caused by many factors and I do think that both sides have their points. In other words, both nature (sun, etc) and us humans are contributing to it. Since we have the capability (more or less) to lessen our contribution to global warming, then I think we must take action. As for the events that are out of our hand (like sunspots), we can’t really do much but we can surely do something about pollution.

  5. Weird Kid

    Risk management, people. The debate is pointless.