Several months ago John Holdren, President Obama’s chief science advisor, offered to answer the public’s questions, particularly about the science behind the administration’s call to make the vast majority of fossil fuel use illegal over the next several decades. From the Press Release:
Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wants to answer any questions that you have about climate change — what it means, how bad it actually is, and what we can do to fight it.
I was glad to see this. John Holdren and other climate catastrophists—those who believe not in some man-made climate impact but catastrophic climate impact that justifies fossil fuel famine—certainly have a lot of questions they need to answer. As I document in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, they’ve been making breathtakingly bogus predictions of catastrophe for over 30 years. In 1985 Holdren predicted a billion deaths from climate-related famine by the end of this decade. Since then, famine has plummeted and billions have longer life expectancy thanks to fossil fuel-powered industrialization and agriculture.
So I like many others submitted questions on Twitter, following the White House’s instructions to tag them#AskDrH. (I guess the title is supposed to turn Holdren from doomsday Luddite who demanded we embark on a ‘massive campaign’ to ‘de-develop the United States,’ into Dr. H the accessible oracle.)
But Dr. H has not answered any of our questions. Instead, he continues to use his position to make statements like this one on Letterman:
What I can tell you for sure is that it gets more and more difficult to cope with the impacts of climate change the higher we go [in CO2 emissions].
But you can’t tell us “for sure” something that is categorically false. Here is a graph of CO2 and climate-related deaths—those from extreme heat, extreme cold, storms, drought, and wildfires. Notice how the higher CO2 emissions are, the fewer climate-related deaths there are.
Sources: Boden, Marland, Andres (2013); Etheridge et al. (1998); Keeling et al. (2001); MacFarling Meure et al. (2006); Merged Ice Core Record Data, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; EM-DAT International Disaster Database. Graph originally appeared in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
What explains this, and why Holdren and others have been dead wrong? Here’s my take, from Chapter One of my book.
Why did so many predict increasing climate danger when the reality turned out to be increasing climate safety as we used more fossil fuels? … they didn’t think big picture— they seemed to be looking only at potential risks of fossil fuels, not the benefits. Clearly, as the climate-related death data show, there were some major benefits—namely, the power of fossil-fueled machines to build a durable civilization that is highly resilient to extreme heat, extreme cold, floods, storms , and so on. Why weren’t those mentioned in the discussion when we talked about storms like Sandy and Irene, even though anyone going through those storms was far more protected from them than he or she would have been a century ago?
Suffice it to say, it is unethical for John Holdren to claim to be willing to answer questions but to not answer the real, tough questions about his horrendously bad track record.
So, in case you missed them Dr. H, here are 12 questions you owe us an answer to before you claim that it is scientifically justified to take away our cheapest, most plentiful, most reliable source of energy.
- Why does the White House ignore and deny the dramatic decline in climate-related deaths?
- In the 80s you predicted 1B climate-related deaths by 2020…why should we listen now?
- What have you learned from all your false predictions of catastrophic resource depletion?
- What is your stance on the population control policies advocated by your mentor?
- Which is more important, maximizing human well-being or minimizing human impact?
- Do you regret your 1980s opposition to the fossil fuels that brought billions prosperity?
- You want to deny my freedom to use the best energy sources–would it be fair to call you an Energy Denier?
- How in Gaia’s Name can you claim to care about CO2 emissions and not vigorously support nuclear?
- Have you read the resource creation literature that refutes the primitive notion of carrying capacity?
- If solar and wind are practical why don’t you take the moral lead and boycott fossil fuels?
- Without using Google, what was the number of climate-related deaths last year according to EM-DAT? [<30,000, less than 1/100 of the 1930s record even though today’s population is 3X bigger]
- Is our environment better or worse than it was pre fossil fuels?
And my final question: Would you be willing to debate a member of the opposition? If so I volunteer.