The main point of contention in the debate about global warming -- on which the so-called scientific community does not have a united point of view -- is to what extent human activities contribute to increases in temperature, particularly through the emission of greenhouse gases, and other scenarios that soon await us.
Last December, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Dr. John P. Holdren as his science advisor and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Excellent academic credentials, with a PhD from Stanford and a university career that spans from Harvard to UC at Berkeley, Holdren is best known for being an irreducible supporter of catastrophist theories about global warming. Holdren also never hid his sympathies for the radical Left, of which he is a full-fledged member.
Holdren and his acolytes affirm that the current trend of gas emissions will lead to a fast increase in temperature, which in turn will cause the melting of glaciers and of polar ice caps, subsequently causing sea levels to rise, large areas of the earth to parch into deserts, species to become extinct, agricultural production to be reduced, famine, and so on. In other words, apocalypse at our doorstep.
The opponents of these ideas contend that the climate of the Earth has never been stable and that in the past our planet has undergone periods of warming and cooling (see, for example, Frozen Earth by Doug MacDougall). These have been mostly linked to astronomical factors such as the variation in the inclination of the Earth’s axis, variations in is orbit, the activity on the Sun’s surface (solar flares) and some more earthen causes such as the activity of volcanoes. Greenhouse gases would have a much smaller impact on changes in temperature than is claimed by catastrophists, and, even if a sizable warming up were to occur, the consequences would be manageable.
When Barack Obama appointed Dr Holdren, he stated that: “promoting science isn’t just about providing resources” but “ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology.” Nice words, but John Holdren’s political and ideological motivations have always oriented his scientific career.
In the 1970s Dr Holdren rose to notoriety for predicting . You guessed it: That the world was heading towards a new Ice Age (sic). Its causes? Increasing air pollution, dust from farming, jet exhaust, desertification, etc.
Twenty years after that, he became the most vocal advocate of global warming. Its causes? You guessed it again: Exactly the same as for the incoming Ice Age. How the same causes can provoke two opposite effects is something that is probably clear only to Dr. Holdren. The least that can be said is that his predicting abilities are questionable.
He did not fare much better when he launched predictions in the field of economics. In a famous bet that he made with the late economist Julian Simon, Holdren chose five metals that he believed would be more expensive in ten years’ time due to scarcity, while Simon predicted each would be less expensive. A decade later, Holdren was $1,000 dollars poorer.
In spite of his swerving scientific opinions, there is a solid common denominator that accompanies all his intellectual productions: his strenuous aversion to a capitalistic society. His main aim is to emphasize that capitalistic society, and the means of production it uses, are driving this planet towards catastrophes of unimaginable dimensions. Whether it is going to happen by freezing to death or by being roasted is a minor detail.
Holdren also advised Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth a film that by one scholar’s count contains ten pages of falsehoods, exaggerations, distortions, and ignored evidence. The film, however, allowed Gore to win the Nobel Prize for Peace together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss how a conspicuous part of the international community is biased by leftist claims when it comes to making statements that have political relevance. A barometer of the situation can be given by how easily Nobel prizes are awarded to people who say things considered to be politically correct. It took only a movie and some advocacy for Al Gore. It took the publication a report that contained nothing definite for the IPCC. And it took even less for Barack Obama --probably politically correct intentions -- to be awarded a Nobel prize for Peace. The only question is why John Holdren’s candidacy has not yet been considered.
Professor Richard Lindzen, of MIT, is a soft- spoken academician, who never aligned with the mainstream on global warming. His view and his findings point to a very different direction. He recently wrote a friend: "… that said, it has become standard in climate science that data in contradiction to alarmism is inevitably 'corrected' to bring it closer to alarming models. None of us would argue that this data is perfect, and the corrections are often plausible. What is implausible is that the 'corrections' should always bring the data closer to models."
With John Holdren working at the White House, it is not hard to guess in which direction 'corrections' will be made.