Hold Off Attacking Holdren–Again

By Chris Mooney | July 15, 2009 10:37 pm

I just got to La Jolla for the start of the book tour….will be speaking at Warwick’s tomorrow evening, one of my favorite bookstores in the whole country.

Anyways, there are many things to link. We’re starting to do radio interviews about the book, for instance, and a good one just went up with “Word of Mouth,” a show on New Hampshire Public Radio hosted by Virginia Prescott. You can listen here.

My latest Science Progress column also just went up–it’s another defense of Obama science adviser John Holdren, now being attacked for positions he didn’t hold thirty years ago due to misreadings of a book on which he was the third author. In other words, typical right wing attacks, all smoke no fire, and an utter distraction from what’s important for the country. You can read my defense here.

With the tour now beginning, posting may become somewhat more infrequent, but I think Sheril will be covering tomorrow….

Comments (53)

  1. Christina Viering

    Good luck with the tour!

  2. GM

    Quick question – why is it that we are debating what kind of possible solutions were discussed in a book written 30 years ago and how you get stigmatized forever for the mere mention of those questions in public?

    Given that absolutely nothing has been done to solve the problems to which those books in the 70s were looking for solutions for, the problems haven’t gone away, they have only become worse. So shouldn’t we be debating those problems instead of wasting time on politics?

    I highly doubt that Holdren and Ehrlich have become less “radical” than they were in 1977. They may have stopped talking about these things in public because it is pretty much pointless at this point, but while it may have been possible to use noncoercive measures to stop population growth 30 years ago, it is not now because we need not only to stop the growth but begin a phase of rapid negative growth. Because we don’t have time anymore

    Talk about that, not about the attacks on Holdren and how misguided they are. Those are totally unimportant issues.

  3. Marc

    Every demographic analysis that I’ve seen has population reaching a peak in the early 21st century and declining thereafter. Improving the status of women has been an effective means of removing population growth. So – there has been progress, and the trends look very different than they did in the 1960s and 1970s.

  4. They may have stopped talking about these things in public because it is pretty much pointless at this point, but while it may have been possible to use noncoercive measures to stop population growth 30 years ago, it is not now because we need not only to stop the growth but begin a phase of rapid negative growth.

    Strap women to a gurney and forcibly remove their uterus? Hog tie men and castrate them?

  5. jhimmi

    It’s amusing how wrong all of those ‘population bomb’ alarmists from the 60′s and 70′s were. Population control through ‘forced abortion’ was not only unnecessary, the birth rate dropped so precipitously in America and Europe that tens or even hundreds of millions of poor uneducated immigrants have been encouraged to enter illegally since the 60′s to provide cheap labor and to offset the imbalance created by aging baby boomers.

  6. Marc

    #5: the USA has always had a significant immigration rate, and ours in the last 30 years hasn’t even been exceptional. We’re close to turn-of-the-century values, but not above. And the birthrates were much higher a century ago.

  7. GM


    1. You are aware of the fact that the US is adding 3 million per year? Or you’re not?

    2. You are aware of the fact that what matters is not the absolute population size but its environmental footprint. We may peak at 9 billion but if we continue economic growth we’re in for a Malthusian catastrophe anyway. In the light of that, the 3 millions the US is adding each year (and they aren’t just the result of migration) are a disaster

    3. 9 billion is way over the carrying capacity of the Earth. 6 or 7 billion is too and the only reason most of these people are alive today is that we still have fossil fuels and fertilizers to throw into the soil and get food out of it. However, both of those things will be very scarce in the not so near future and we will probably never actually get to 9 billion because the dieoff will start before that.

    The “population bomb alarmists” were wrong in the timing because they did not take into account the Green Revolution of the 60s and 70s. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong in general – it should just as clear why what they say is true as it is that 2+2=4 – the planet is finite and we can not grow forever. Moreover, if we want to grow in terms of consumption of resource, we have to do that while reducing our population accordingly.

    The fact that people can’t understand this is just some more evidence that there is nothing wrong with reducing population. And we can still do it peacefully, we just need to ban births for a while.

  8. GM

    * “not so near future” should read “not so distant future”

  9. Erasmussimo

    It is certainly no surprise that conservatives have gone off on this wild, crazy set of accusations. Their greatest strength — their tribal loyalty — is also their greatest weakness. They all adhere strictly to the party line, and they mindlessly repeat the talking points that they’ve read on the websites of other conservatives, and they’re utterly divorced from reality. That worked for a while, when the American public was willing to accept their claims at face value. But now that most Americans have realized that so much of the conservative position is based on falsehoods, their skepticism has been piqued, and those old smear tactics just don’t work as well as they used to. With the passage of time, that 20% or so of the hard-core conservative movement will wither down to a few percent. The truth will always out — but it can take a while.

  10. Paul Veazey

    Chris, in the spirit of fairness, I went to your “defense” page to see whether you could actually show that Holdren didn’t realy hold the positions advocated in his and his co-author’s book. Frankly, your defense is no defense at all. I won’t demonstrate at length the emptiness of your arguments, because several persons who responded on July 16, including, for example Gerald Harbisson, have already utterly debunked them. I’ll just not a couple of glaring examples:

    1. A statement that the authors believe voluntary birth control and abortion would be a preferable method of population control than compelled is not a “rejection,” of the latter option, which the authors in fact argue would be acceptable. A despotic tyrant would surely prefer the people subjugate themselves to him voluntarily as well, but has no problem using force if they won’t cooperate, and the Ehrlichs and Holdren make clear they would not object to forced sterilization and abortion were the masses not sufficiently receptive to incentives for voluntary compliance.

    2. The implied argument that somehow Holdren’s “third author” status relieves him of responsibility for the books arguments is ludicrous. If he disagreed with the statements at issue, no one forced him to claim authorship. If he felt something else he contributed to the book was so important that association of his name with the outlandish assertions quoted was a price he was willing to pay, he could at least have insisted on a disclaimer, even in a footnote, saying he did not agree with these things. Other co-authors have straightforwardly acknowledged in the text their disagreement on certain points and simply laid out both sides for the readers’ consideration. Holdren did no such thing, so it must be assumed he fully concurs with all positions advocated in the book.

  11. GM

    Once again – why is it just assumed that such policies are unacceptable no matter what. What if they are actually a necessity? The position of the Ehrlichs of the world has always been that the best thing would be for people to agree and cooperate and we voluntarily cut down our numbers by simply not having kids. However, if people don’t cooperate (which will obviously always be the case because first, the evolutionary urge to reproduce is very strong, and second, people are scientifically illiterate, ignorant of the issue and indoctrinated into thinking that it is God’s will to have kids), then the only choice left is coercive methods such as forced abortions and mass sterilizations. This is still a lot more humane than the other two solutions – one is to start killing people, either in an organized way or in a global war over dwindling resource and the other to just go with the BAU and have nature does the nasty job for us, the unpleasant way.

    In other words, the forced abortions and mass sterilizations are actually the most humane policy available to us. So why are we crucifying someone for stating this 30 years ago and why are we not crucifying politicians for completely ignoring the issue??

  12. GoldHelpUs

    GM, I’ll tell you why such policies are unacceptable no matter what – because every individual has a set of basic human rights that are not to be violated by any do-gooder, collective, “planetary regime” or arrogant scientific dictatorship. There are very good reasons for this – because throughout human history – clerics, scientists (look at Nazi Germany) bishops and kings – have all pronounced that they have higher understanding and knowledge and must force their will on human society for the “greater good” leading to disastrous outcomes.

    There is no absolute scientific consensus on population and there never can be. Because scientists are not infallible, they can not predict the future and how society naturally adapts to dwindling resources and overcomes these problems with technology and development.

    Scientists can not even reach consensus on global warming, or climate change or is it global cooling this week? And the whole “climate change” movement is a clear example of how “science” and scientists can be compromised by business and political interests.

    Free markets and free societies adapt to their environment and reach equilibrium in the same way that natural ecosystems do. Prices determine the cost of resources and as supply dwindles the cost of these resources will rise. This is the basic law of supply and demand and it shows that there is no Malthusian event – free markets and free societies naturally adapt.

    But the main point is that no scientific authority or any other “authority” can claim to “know what’s best” and violate these basic human rights and freedoms because that door opens a Pandora’s box of abuse against mankind.

  13. GM

    Another denialist

  14. GoldHelpUs

    Don’t give me that denialist crap, GM. It is clear that it is the SUN not human development that is the overwhelming driver of climate and there are many true scientists that back me up.

    The fact that you need to stoop so low to call me a “denier” for disagreeing with you makes it clear to me that “climate change” is a religion to you not a science.

  15. GM

    There is so much wrong with your post that it isn’t really worth the effort to answer. As I said at this point we are pretty much irreversibly in overshoot mode and barring a miracle (where by a miracle it is understood something like immediately reducing the TFR all over the world to 0.5 or lower) nothing can save us; so maybe the best policy is to just shut up about it and encourage consumption and births so that the crash comes sooner and due to a less fundamental reason such as PeakOil; that way we minimize the long-term destruction unless we are even dumber than I think and we end up using the nukes.

    I will just briefly comment on one thing that should illustrate the lunacy of free market democracy:

    Free market believer: “The market is omnipotent and omniscient. It will solve all problems of resource supply. The fact that prices have not gone up means that there is no resource problem”
    Rational person: “The fact that prices have not gone up means that the market isn’t good at sensing resource scarcity because in the whole human history we have produced exactly zero barrels of oil, zero grams of high-grade metal ore, etc.. We have extracted all of those from the finite stocks which the planet has. This means that supply has been going down exponentially with exponential increases of extraction. In the same time, demand has (and is still increasing) also gone up exponentially. However, prices have not climbed up as much as one would expect. The logical conclusion is that the market only sees the very short term and is completely ignorant about long-term supply availability. Therefore, we should stop believing in the omnipotence and omniscience of the market.”

    Who sounds more convincing?

    One of the views is based on pure belief in a pseudo-scientific (in fact political) theory that is failing all the time, the other is based on the laws of conservation of matter and energy which, as far as we know, always apply.

  16. Erasmussimo

    GodHelpUs, you do make an error of fact when you assert that:

    Scientists can not even reach consensus on global warming

    The National Academy of Sciences has declared that anthropogenic climate change is real and that it presents a significant threat to our society in the future. The national academies of science of other nations have issued similar statements. There is a very solid consensus on the matter.

  17. GoldHelpUs

    Guys, this is the kind of unfounded hysteria I’m talking about that makes scientists with God complexes so dangerous. You two are the perfect examples. GM talks about some impending crisis of peak oil and disasterous climate catastrophy Malthusian event which is simply a fantasy that loons like Holdren have been promoting for over 30 years. I put a whole lot more faith in free market forces than chicken little here.

    As for consensus, how can you claim there is consensus when 30 years ago it was global cooling, 10 years ago it was global warming and now it’s climate change! And with a consensus you wouldn’t have top climate scientists disputing the claims of anthropogenic climate change. It should be a clear and indisputable fact but it is not. It’s hype and hysteria driven baloney by the likes of Al Gore and GM here.

  18. GoldHelpUs

    This article shows that there is clearly no consensus when 700 prominent scientists discredit the concept of anthropogenic climate change.


  19. Erasmussimo

    As for consensus, how can you claim there is consensus when 30 years ago it was global cooling, 10 years ago it was global warming and now it’s climate change!

    Ah, you are struggling with some misconceptions. That bit about how “30 years ago it was global cooling” — that’s one of those conservative urban myths that has no foundation in fact. Time and Newsweek ran some stories in the 70s to that effect. There were a couple of scientists who raised the possibility of global cooling. Most scientists saw no evidence in favor of global cooling, and the National Academy of Sciences released a report saying that there was not enough evidence to support any hypothesis regarding global temperature changes. I can provide a link to a detailed explanation of what actually happened, if you’re interested.

    The difference between “global warming” and “climate change” is that the latter is the more precise term. Both labels apply to the same phenomenon. Another term is “AGW”, for “anthropogenic global warming”. The fact that people use different terms for the same phenomenon doesn’t mean that they have changed their mind or don’t know what they’re talking about. A car is still an automobile.

    And with a consensus you wouldn’t have top climate scientists disputing the claims of anthropogenic climate change.

    No, with a consensus you wouldn’t have a significant number of top scientists disputing the claims of anthropogenic climate change. There are a handful of top scientists who dispute climate change. But that’s why we have institutions like the National Academy of Sciences: to give the public and policymakers a clear basis for figuring out what’s what when it comes to science.

    It’s hype and hysteria driven baloney by the likes of Al Gore and GM here.
    Would you mind pointing out the hype and hysteria-driven baloney in the NAS publications on the subject?

    You can find that NAS brochure here:


  20. Erasmussimo

    This article shows that there is clearly no consensus when 700 prominent scientists discredit the concept of anthropogenic climate change.

    You’re the victim of a nasty deception. The list to which you refer was concocted by Marc Morano, a political operative, and is full of falsehoods. Some of the people on the list are not scientists. Some of the people on the list do not object to AGW and demanded to have their names removed from the list. That list has been thoroughly debunked.

  21. GM

    GM talks about some impending crisis of peak oil and disasterous climate catastrophy Malthusian event which is simply a fantasy that loons like Holdren have been promoting for over 30 years.

    That’s insane

    First, as I said, it should be clear what we’re in for from some very simple reasoning based on the laws of thermodynamics which say that you need a positive negenthropy/energy balance to keep yourself alive and an even more positive balance to sustain a complex society and the laws of conservation of matter and energy that tell you that once you have burned the oil it is gone forever and once you have mined the concentrated ore, extracted the metal, made stuff out of it and thrown it in the ocean, it is impossible to make new ore out of nothing and prohibitively energetically expensive to keep extracting below the mineralogical barrier or from the ocean.

    Second, it should be even more obvious what we’re in for when you take a look at the history of mankind and realize that with very few exceptions having to do with some special truly characeristics of the environment, each and every civilization that has ever been collapsed due to self-inflicted destruction of the environment. And it usually ends up in a very ugly way with bones having teeth marks being dug out by archeologists centuries later. None of those civilizations, however, had market capitalism and the never seen before predatory attitude towards nature that comes with it, neither they had nuclear weapons.

    It is epistemically impossible to prove what will happen in the future, but it is possible to make predictions with high certainty. Based on some general principles and historical examples, it is absolutely certain that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible and it is pretty much certain that if it is not AGW, then Peak Oil (and Peak Resources in general but oil looks like the one that will see the Liebig’s Law of the Minimum in action in our case) will cause the end. Most likely it will be a very ugly combination of both.

    I have yet to see you saying anything of substance other than “I believe in the free market” and “You are crazy”.

    If you can somehow show that it is possible to make matter and energy out of nothing, then we can grow forever, and there is a Nobel prize (possibly more than one) waiting for you to go and pick them up. If not, then you are the loon

  22. GoldHelpUs

    Is this consensus?

    And there are many more studies like it that for some reason never get the same amount of publicity as the doom and gloom climate scientist industry produced studies.

    As for you GM, throwing a bunch of crazed assertions about capitalism being the root of all evil and Peak Oil leading to the collapse of society is not an argument and just shows how poorly you understand what free market capitalism is. Societies throughout history have collapsed for many reasons not simply resource depletion and “self-inflicted destruction of the environment”. That’s a complete fallacy.

    Peak oil is more hysteria like Y2K and “climate change”. When we do reach that point of severe oil depletion society will adapt. You will see the price of oil ramp up over time as we get closer to that point of complete depletion and what will people do? They will naturally lead more localized lifestyles because the cost of driving long distance and importing goods from the other side of the planet will be simply too expensive. We don’t need some arrogant scientist with totalitarian socialist leanings like yourself to force us to adjust our lifestyles.

    Market capitalism is as old as human interaction. It’s a very simple concept that people like you confuse with monopolization, fraud and environmental destruction. When an apple farmer trades his apples with oranges from the neighboring orange farmer – that’s capitalism.

    I agree that we should be kind to the environmentbut I don’t agree that destroying civilization by throwing out a concept as basic as capitalism and installing some totalitarian socialist system with population controls is the answer. Those systems are typically prone to the most horrendous forms of abuse all for the “greater good” of course.

  23. Erasmussimo

    GodHelpUs, your citation demonstrates that one man by the name of Nasif Nahle disagrees with the scientific consensus. Mr. Nahle is a biologist, not a climatologist. The objections of a nonprofessional surely do not compromise the consensus that has been determined by the relevant scientists at the National Academy of Sciences.

    And there are many more studies like it that for some reason never get the same amount of publicity as the doom and gloom climate scientist industry produced studies.
    Yes, but most of those studies are either:
    1. Not reliable, because they were not published in a peer-reviewed journal.
    2. Not antithetical to the general consensus because they criticize fine points within the overall structure of climate change science.
    3. Not the work of scientists trained in the appropriate field.

    Now, if you can cite a paper that appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, was written by somebody with training in the relevant field, that fundamentally challenged the AGW hypothesis, and was not later shown to be flawed, I’d love to see it. But I don’t think you can.

  24. GoldHelpUs

    PS – We just had one of the coldest winters on record and you’re still trying to sell this BS?

  25. GoldHelpUs

    Erm, what happened to global warming?

    Oh, it’s global cooling now!

    I guess my simple feeble peon mind can not grasp the complexity of anthropogenic global warming cooling climate change. I need to submit to hysterical “climate science experts” and have my rights and more taxes extracted from me.

  26. Erasmussimo

    OK, GodHelpUs, let’s go through your list of items:

    1. This is an opinion piece by a columnist for the Telegraph, a newspaper in the UK. Do you believe that he constitutes a more authoritative scientific reference than the hundreds of scientists in the National Academy of Sciences? I don’t.
    2. This is a political story, not a scientific paper. Here’s a quote from it:

    The National Academy of Sciences and most major scientific bodies agree that global warming is caused by man-made carbon emissions. But a small, growing number of scientists, including D’Aleo, are questioning how quickly the warming is happening and whether humans are actually the leading cause.

    With Joseph D’Aleo, you have found one more scientist who objects to AGW. But why should you take the word of one scientist over the judgement of hundreds of the best scientists in the country (the NAS)? Do you believe that Mr. D’Aleo is smarter than those other scientists?

    3. Here’s a third scientist you’ve gotten. That’s three. Do you know how many scientists there are in the world? You could gather ten times as many scientists and still have way less than 1% of the total of qualified scientists. Suppose that I were to present you with ten people who are getting rich this year. Would that lead you to conclude that the economy is doing just great?

    4. Actually, this link to the March conference is useful because it really demonstrates just how little real opposition there is to AGW. This was the big opportunity to show off all those scientists who oppose AGW. And what did they get? I suggest that you download their conference program, which includes biographies of all their speakers. Here’s the breakdown of their speaker list:

    80 speakers total, out of whom the following appear to have the proper qualifications to be counted as scientists who know something about AGW:

    Akasofu, Carter, Cotton, D’Aleo, Easterbrook, Goldenberg, Gray, Keen, Legates, Lindzen, Loehle, Lupo, McIntyre, Michaels, O’Brien, Patterson, Singer, Soon, Spencer, Taylor, Theon.

    The remainder are economists, policy analysts, newspaper columnists, TV weather presenters, and so forth. That’s a grand total of 21 qualified scientists who appeared at the prime conference representing denialism. Contrast that with the roughly 3,000 scientists whose work appears or is referenced in the IPCC AR4 report. We’re talking about roughly 100:1 ratios of AGW proponents to deniers. To put it another way, this analysis suggests that maybe 99% of qualified scientists support AGW. And you say that ISN’T a consensus?!?!?

    PS – We just had one of the coldest winters on record and you’re still trying to sell this BS?
    Weather is not climate. Climate is how things change over a period of at least 30 years. And for the last 30 years, the record shows strong increase in global temperatures.

    Erm, what happened to global warming?
    Oh, it’s global cooling now!

    This sounds like a personal fantasy of yours. Would you care to rephrase your idea in more objective terms?

  27. GoldHelpUs

    OK, you’re right. I give up. I guess I’m just an evil climate change “denier” and I deserve to be rounded up and imprisoned. That’s some scientific debate you’ve got there. Claim every opposing viewpoint is unqualified and you have a consensus.

    Looks like it’s time to buy me some stocks in Goldman Sachs.


    Keep on saving the world for us, guys.

  28. GM

    @ #22

    You still have to provide something more of an assertion that “everything will be fine” against the basic fact that the planet’s resources are finite while we are consumption of those resources is growing exponentially.

    The fact that you claim that oil prices will ramp up when oil declines shows how little you understand about the issue. Peak Oil is already there (most likely we will never see the production number of August 2008 again) yet the price has fallen down because of the recession. Why is that? Because the market which is comprised of some very short-sighted, thermodynamically and in general, scientifically illiterate people who completely fail to appreciate the should-be-obvious-to-everyone-but-somehow-it-sin’t long-term threat of resource depletion.

    Your assumption that we will somehow “adapt” is only viable as long as you are not aware of the extent of our dependence on oil and how there are really no viable substitutes for it. The 7 billion people alive today are alive only because we still have oil, natural gas and phosphate fertilizers and fossil aquifers to throw at the soil and power our heavy agricultural equipment. All of these things are peaking/have peaked/will peak very soon.

    The only viable solution is to cut down our numbers to something like 500 millions at most so that those people can live off organic agriculture, renewable energy and recycled materials in a sustainable manner almost indefinitely.

    The label “socialist” (which for some unknown for me reason is a derogatory word for you; apparently you don’t realize that half of Europe’s governments describe themselves as such, and those are countries where people live much better than in the US) does not apply to people like me, because socialism and communism share the same basic flaw with capitalism – they put man in the center of the world and disregard the environment.

    Anyway, it is unlikely that you will be convinced, because you apparently belong to that group of people who will never change their beliefs (and “beliefs” is the right word here) no matter how much factual evidence, data and logical reasoning you throw at them. Because they are “immune” to those things.

    Just one thing you should at least think about – if we fail to make it, that’s it for this planet and for our species in general. The next civilization to try to rise from the ashes, whether it is humans or something else that will evolve in the future will inherit a planet with no concentrated sources of energy and no concentrated ores to be able to even reach our modest level of development, in other words, there will be no such civilization once this one collapses

  29. GM

    * First sentence should read:

    You still have to provide something more than an assertion that “everything will be fine” against the basic fact that the planet’s resources are finite while our consumption of those resources is growing exponentially.

  30. Erasmussimo

    No, you’re not evil. You extended your political beliefs into the realm of science. Political beliefs are personal and subjective, and I won’t challenge your political beliefs. However, when you distort science to fit your political beliefs, I feel an obligation to publicly declare the falsehood.

    Let me point out something for your consideration. You have now raised a number of points that I have demonstrated to be false:

    1. Your claim that there’s no scientific consensus in favor of AGW.
    2. Your claim that 30 years ago scientists thought that the earth was cooling.
    3. Your claim that 700 scientists signed a declaration against AGW.
    4. Your claim that a cold winter contradicts AGW.

    Now, if you were a purely rational person, you would say, “Gosh, maybe I had this wrong. I think I’ll go study this some more.” But you didn’t do that. Your statements are every bit as self-assured as they were at the outset of this discussion. Why is that? I think it’s because I never once addressed the true factors behind your opposition to AGW: your political beliefs.

    Now, here’s the ironic thing: you really do have a basis for a robust debate about AGW. Combatting AGW is going to be expensive; doing nothing will also be expensive. And there’s a fundamental question that we as a republic must answer: how much do we owe the future?

    These are serious issues and they need to be addressed. But you conservatives are playing right into the liberals’ hands by fighting a battle you’re sure to lose. When the time comes to make the real decisions, you deniers are going to be ignored because you’ve been spouting anti-rational nonsense.

    Wise up!

  31. GoldHelpUs

    GM, you are a freaking self righteous lunatic and as I’ve said before you are the perfect example of why no “authority” (scientific or otherwise) should be granted the power to violate basic human freedoms for the “greater good” or the good of the Earth or any other good.

    Hitler was smug and self assured that his belief in eugenics principles was good and would lead to the perfection of mankind and we all know where that turned out.

    The fact that the price of oil is not astronomical shows that we are not near any kind of crisis point. It’s simple market dynamics that you are disputing here which I find astounding and it completely destroys your credibility.

    We already have the tech to surplant oil as an energy. Nuclear and other natural sustainable sources of energy will become more economically attractive as fossil fuels dwindle and rise in cost. Fossil fuel supplies will not vanish overnight and cause a cataclysm. You really think that’s going to happen? Then you really are deluded.

    Europe has socialist policies sitting on top of a capitalist market. They are not socialist systems.

    Anyway, I’m growing tired of this. Clearly we have “climate deniers” and we have “climate fanatics”. Then we just have psuedo-intellectual psychopathic eugenicists like you, GM.

  32. GoldHelpUs

    Of course, I meant supplant, not surplant. Damn Iphone.

  33. GM

    Once again, I am waiting for you to provide substantial agrumentation in support of the thesis that infinite growth is possible in finite environment.

    You are getting an “F” grade for your debate skills right now

  34. GoldHelpUs

    Who said we need “infinite growth” and what does that mean anyway? If you had been paying attention you would have noticed that I have not been talking about “infinite growth”. I’ve been talking about equilibrium and natural market dynamics.

  35. GM

    I already told you why there is and there can be no such thing as “equilibrium reached through market mechanisms”. The market does not operate on the same time scale as the crisis that we’re facing so relying on it to fix the problem is sheer lunacy. If it had the power to do that, we would have stopped growing our population and consumption no later than the middle of the 20th century.

    And all of what I said completely ignores the evolutionary psychology and biobehavioral factors that will always make sure that unless EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL understands the common cognitive deficiencies and evolutionary urges we all share and modifies its behavior accordingly, the natural course of things is towards a Malthusian crash.

    Hard to imagine this happening when the vast majority of the population thinks it was made in the image of God and the rules that apply to every other organisms on this planet do not apply to them.

  36. GoldHelpUs

    OK, GM, well that’s where the fundamental disagreement lies doesn’t it. You see Malthusian cataclysm and I think there’s absolutely no basis for that belief. The market adapts to whatever time scale is necessary. I just don’t see humanity incapable of adapting to dwindling fossil fuels. You can’t even understand the most basic law of supply and demand so I don’t expect you to “get it”.

    Will society change as it naturally moves from fossil fuels to sustainable enegy sources. Absolutely. But the Malthusian event is hysteria.

  37. GM

    The market adapts to whatever time scale is necessary

    One of the reason why I think there is no hope for us is that people are simply too dumb to understand and you demonstrate it very well here.

  38. GoldHelpUs

    What on Earth are you talking about? Let me give you a simple, recent example of the dynamic I’m talking about. The recent hike in gas prices which was due to market manipulation (not Peak Oil) lead to people dumping gas guzzling SUVs and large cars and increased sales in hybrid autos. That’s just a microcosm of the rapid changes that occur when gas prices rise.

    So I can point to real world examples and all you can do is call me dumb and say my debating skills are weak. OK, whatever, buddy. I think enough has been said on this topic and you simply want to believe in your impending doomsday scenario.

  39. GM

    You are definitely dumb if you think that the increase in sales of hybrids that we saw in the last years is an adequate change. You would be still dumb if you think that replacing all cars with hybrids is possible and it will solve our problems. Ecological illiteracy runs just as deep as the problems we’re facing

    Take the time to watch this movie


  40. GoldHelpUs

    I’m not going to change the viewpoints of any of the hardcore enviro-fascists, climate fanatics or neo-Malthusians here but for anyone casually reading you should take note that you and your family are guinea pigs in this criminal depopulation agenda too.

    See the excellent Corbett Report (episode #94) for more information:


  41. SLC

    Re GoldHelpUs

    Mr. GoldHelpUs cites a petition signed by some 700 scientists who dissent from the scientific consensus on global warming. I am totally unimpressed.

    1. There is also a petition distributed by the Discovery Institute with more then 700 signatures which dissents from the scientific consensus on the Theory of Evolution.

    2. There is another petition signed by at least 135 scientists that dissents from the scientific consensus about the big bang.

    3. There is yet another petition with numerous signatures that dissents from the scientific consensus that HIV is the cause of AIDS.

    I also find it amusing that Mr. GoldHelpUs cites a report from the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is a shill for the energy companies, just as it was originally formed to shill for the tobacco companies in denying a relationship between cigarette smoking and cancer.

    I further find it amusing that Mr. GoldHelpUs is impressed by people like Roy Parsons, a young earth creationist and Fred Singer, a cigarette smoking/lung cancer denialist and CFCs/ozone depletion denialist.

    However, the best is post #42 where he cites the Corbett Report. The Corbett Report is the web site of one Mr. James Corbett who among other things is a 9/11 troofer and an anti-vaccination activist. In other words, Mr. Corbett is a super nutcase and a crank of monumental proportions. This is, of course, typical of denialist whackjobs like Mr. GoldHelpUs as birds of a feather flock together.

  42. GoldHelpUs

    SLC, Corbett’s information is well documented and well researched. You don’t have to accept his belief system in total to appreciate the research:


    Let’s try to avoid the ad hominem attacks and stick to fact. I’m not “impressed” by any of the individuals you mention, I’m simply providing opposing and dissenting views.

    The climate-fanatic/eugenicist/depopulation movement is hardly free of “whack-jobs” and con-men.

  43. SLC

    Re GoldHelpUs

    Mr. GoldHelpUs has quite a crust accusing me of ad hominem attacks. In comment 42 he called those who disagree with him enviro-fascists. In comment 33, he called GM a “freaking self righteous lunatic”.

    Mr. GoldHelpUs, it’s very simple. 9/.11 troofers are nutcases. Anti-vaxers are not only nutcases but are highly dangerous and deluded individuals who will be responsible for the return of infectious diseases such as polio, tetanus, diphtheria, etc. which will kill or maim millions as they used to do before the advent of vaccination. Mr. Corbett is a dangerous liar, just like Jenny McCarthy, David Kirby, Andrew Wakefield and their ilk. I suggest that Mr. GoldHelpUs peruse Dr. Oracs’ web site where he will be introduced to these miscreants.


  44. GoldHelpUs

    SLC, you assume yourself and your ilk like GM to be the final arbiters of universal truth.

    9/11 truthers are not “nutcases”. Some of them may be but many raise vitally important questions about 9/11 and simply want a proper investigation. Hardly a nutty proposition when so much of US foreign and domestic policy rests on 9/11. I guess you still believe Osama Bin Laden is out there plotting his next attack? But don’t get me started on 9/11. That’s a whole other kettle of fish. But you can keep on believing the Bush-Cheney version of events all you like.

    Questioning the safety of vaccines is hardly nutty when newborn children are pumped full of vaccines known to contain dangerous compounds and are usually injected with multiple shots in one visit. Especially when we already have studies that link thimerosal and neuro-toxicity:


    And that is just one of the dangerous compounds found in vaccines.

    These aren’t black and white issues. Nobody is saying all vaccines are evil.

    All you can say is “Mr Corbett is a dangerous liar”. Are you saying his references are all dangerous lies too? Did he fabricate them himself? Because his references are interesting in their own right but I’m sure you will dismiss those as nutcase as well.

  45. GoldHelpUs

    SLC, I suggest you watch this:

    BBC : The Great Global Warming Swindle

  46. GoldHelpUs

    Look guys, this doesn’t have to be complicated. It is the SUN the overwhelming driver of climate people! This is what we learn in kindergarten and you people still can’t grasp it!!

    The film from the BBC : The Great Global Warming Swindle shows very clearly how ridiculous this whole “man-made global warming” concept is. Believe it or not, it has REAL SCIENTISTS!!

    You can either watch it and move on to real environmental issues like GMO food and toxic chemicals in the environment, food and water supply or you can keep drinking Al Gore’s Carbon Credit Kool-Aid and making him very wealthy in the process.

    Here’s the film:


    Case closed.

  47. SLC

    Re GoldHelpUs

    Real scientists who are not identified. A video whose auspices are not identified. I am totally unimpressed.

    Let me inform Mr., GoldHelpUs what the real problem with his claim is. The premise of Mr. GoldHelpUs’ view is that the scientists who claim that global climate change is occurring are not just wrong, they are part of a giant conspiracy to delude the public for reasons of personal gain. I have a flash for Mr. GoldHelpUs. If Jim Hanson was in this for personal gain, he could make a lot more money by quitting his Government job, reversing his position on global climate change, and selling his services to Exxon and the other energy companies for consulting fees running into several hundred bucks/hour. As it is, he is just a Government employee making a modest salary from the taxpayers and is forbidden from raking in consultant fees from non-governmental entities, unlike folks like Richard Lindzen who is perfectly free to consult with anybody who will pay his fees.

    It’s a free country and Mr. GoldHelpUs is perfectly free to associate himself with clowns like Roy Parsons and James Corbett. The rest of us prefer the Jim Hansons of the world.

    I find it interesting that Mr. GoldHelpUs, like all the other denielists invokes Al Gore. Whatever Mr. Gores’ negatives are, he is far and away better then the likes of morons like James Inhofe and Joe Barton, who exemplify the deniers on Capitol Hill.

    Mr. GoldHelpUs, why don’t you go back to Marc Moranos’ web site where you came from and post your stupid comments there where they will be more appreciated.

  48. GM

    You completely fail to understand that we are facing a number of converging crisis.

    If Climate Change turns out not to be that serious of a problem, it will be Peak Oil that will get us. If it is not Peak Oil it will be some other limiting resource, whether it will be the fact that we’ll pass the mineralogical barrier or that we deplete the fossil aquifers on which we rely for agriculture or that we run out of enough farm land due to the sheer expansion of human population, or something else.

    Even if we assume that we will find an unlimited source of energy, which would allows to synthesize our food, make metals through radioactive reactions, etc. the calculation has been done and it shows that we will cook the planet through the thermal heat released by our energy consumption, if it is to grow with the same speed it has grown so far, in several
    hundred years.

    There is something called The Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, i.e. the limiting factor for the growth of any population is the one that is in the least abundance.

    It is pretty clear at this point that all of the factors I listed above are sufficient on their own to wipe out civilization. You are denying all of them, in fact, you are denying the existence of limits itself.

    Which you must be a real lunatic to do

  49. GoldHelpUs

    GM, I never claimed there were no limits to growth. Of course there are limits. The question is what are the limits?

    My entire point is that we don’t face impending doom or a Malthusian cataclysm because markets naturally reach equilibrium. If we are hitting the limits of fossil fuels or whatever the market and society will adapt. Prices will rise, we will adjust our lifestyles possibly even drastically.

    I welcome the adjustments we need to make to our lifestyles. Local organic farming, clean energy and less manufacturing of useless plastic trinkets from China. At the same time I understand that the third world needs cheap fossil fuels to develop their societies to the point where cleaner energy becomes feasible.

    I’m also ardently opposed to draconian, forced measures imposed by those that think they know best or authorities (scientific or otherwise) and totalitarian governments (communist, socialist or fascist). The point is that scientists are not perfect and above political or ideological influence. Anyone familiar with 20th century history understands that the cause of most Malthusian events have been totalitarian governments. Lenin and Stalin’s collectivist famines, Hitler’s eugenics movement and Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” to name a few.

    As for you SLC, you’re not interested in debate you’re simply a sycophant that attaches more importance to “authority” rather than truth.

  50. GM

    LOL at totalitarianism being the cause for Malthusian events. Mao’s policy of encouraging births may count (with its effects being felt today), but the things you refer to were not even Malthusian evens to begin with, because they were not examples of population hitting the limits of the environment.

    For the n-th time – the market is not going to solve the problems because “adjusting our lifestyles” and everything that goes with that will take decades while the prices signal will come when we have mere months to several years to do it. And we will not have the resources to adjust when that happens, because retooling the infrastructure requires enormous amounts of them. We are also lacking the qualified people to do that – even if we decided to replace all our fossil fuel power plants with nuclear power plants starting tomorrow, we can’t do that because there are only so many people who know how to build and maintain them and training more takes, again, decades. All of that is not even taking into consideration the fact that only a complete idiot can believe the statement that “we will always be able to find a substitute to a resource that’s been depleted”. There is no substitute for energy and in the end our energy budget is 1.6kWh per square meter of Earth surface a year. That’s it. The market is completely blind to this reality because the market is only as good as the ability of the people who play on it to understand these problems. Which is zero in most cases. The market isn’t a deity in which one should have blind faith.

    To compound the problem with the limits to growth, we have a monetary system which is only viable when the economy is growing. There is absolutely no way the current monetary system, the world economy and the intimately linked to them way our society is organized can be preserved.

  51. 23. Erasmussimo Says:

    July 17th, 2009 at 5:03 pm
    GodHelpUs, your citation demonstrates that one man by the name of Nasif Nahle disagrees with the scientific consensus. Mr. Nahle is a biologist, not a climatologist. The objections of a nonprofessional surely do not compromise the consensus that has been determined by the relevant scientists at the National Academy of Sciences.

    I have credentials on climatology, as well in physics.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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