In a video interview this week, White House Office of Science and Technology Director John P. Holdren told CNSNews.com that he would use the "free market economy" to implement the "massive campaign" he advocated along with Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich to "de-develop the United States."
In his role as President Barack Obama's top science and technology adviser, Holdren deals with issues ranging from global warming to health care.
"A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States," Holdren wrote along with Paul and Anne H. Ehrlich in the "recommendations" concluding their 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions.
"De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation," Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote.
"Resources must be diverted from frivolous and wasteful uses in overdeveloped countries to filling the genuine needs of underdeveloped countries," Holdren and his co-authors wrote. "This effort must be largely political, especially with regard to our overexploitation of world resources, but the campaign should be strongly supplemented by legal and boycott action against polluters and others whose activities damage the environment. The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge. They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided for every human being."
CNSNews.com asked Holdren about this passage on Tuesday after he participated in an Environmental Protection Agency forum celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act.
CNSNews.com asked: "You wrote ‘a massive campaign must be launched to restore a high quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States' in your book Human Ecology. Could you explain what you meant by de-develop the United States?"
Holdren responded: "What we meant by that was stopping the kinds of activities that are destroying the environment and replacing them with activities that would produce both prosperity and environmental quality. Thanks a lot."
CNSNews.com then asked: "And how do you plan on implementing that?"
"Through the free market economy," Holdren said.
CNSNews.com also asked Holdren to comment on the declaration he made in 1995 along with co-authors Paul Ehrlich and Gretchen Daily of Stanford University that mankind needed to "face up" to "a world of zero net physical growth" that would require reductions in consumption.
"We know for certain, for example, that: No form of material growth (including population growth) other than asymptotic growth is sustainable," Holdren, Ehrlich and Daily wrote in an essay for the World Bank titled, "The Meaning of Sustainability."
"Many of the practices inadequately supporting today's population of 5.5 billion people are unsustainable; and [a]t the sustainability limit, there will be a tradeoff between population and energy-matter throughput per person, hence, ultimately, between economic activity per person and well-being per person," Holdren, Ehrlich and Daily wrote. "This is enough to say quite a lot about what needs to be faced up to eventually (a world of zero net physical growth), what should be done now (change unsustainable practices, reduce excessive material consumption, slow down population growth), and what the penalty will be for postponing attention to population limitation (lower well-being per person)."
Holdren would not comment Tuesday about this statement, saying he had to get to another engagement.