This is the second of a three-part series of articles exploring Obama administration science czar John P. Holdren’s self-acknowledged intellectual debt to geochemist and early ecological alarmist Harrison Brown. In the first part, WND reported Brown recommended pumping carbon dioxide into the global atmosphere to promote the food production needed to prevent starvation resulting from overpopulation. In the third part, WND will examine Brown’s call for global government.
In the 1950s, geochemist Harrison Brown – a member of the Manhattan Project who supervised the production of plutonium – advocated the use of government-mandated eugenics to prevent overpopulation from ecological disaster that could cause civilization to “revert to a way of life not unlike that which existed in Europe in the seventeenth century or that which exists in China today.”
“Is there anything that can be done to prevent the long-range degeneration of human stock?” Brown asked on page 104 of his 1954 book “The Challenge of Man’s Future.”
Answering his question, Brown wrote: “Unfortunately, at the present time, there is little, other than to prevent breeding in persons who present glaring deficiencies clearly dangerous to society and which are known to be of a hereditary nature.”
He continued: “Thus, we could sterilize or in other ways discourage the mating of the feeble-minded. We could go further and systematically attempt to prune from society, by prohibiting them from breeding, persons suffering from serious inheritable forms of physical defects, such as congenital deafness, dumbness or blindness, or absence of limbs.”
Lamenting that “man’s knowledge of human genetics is too meager at the present time to permit him to be a really successful pruner,” Brown suggested that within another 10 or 15 generations, “understanding of human genetics will be sufficient to permit man to do a respectable job of slowing down the deterioration of the species.”
Brown mentored Obama science czar
In 1986, Obama science czar John Holdren co-edited a scientific reader, “Earth and the Human Future: Essays in Honor of Harrison Brown.”
In one of his introductory essays for the book, Holdren acknowledged he read Brown’s “The Challenge of Man’s Future” when he was in high school and that the book had a profound effect on his intellectual development.
Holdren acknowledged Brown’s book transformed his thinking about the world and “about the sort of career I wanted to pursue.”
Holdren further commented in a glowing fashion that Brown’s book was a work “that should have reshaped permanently the perceptions of all serious analysts about the interactions of the demographic, biological, geophysical, technological, economic and sociopolitical dimensions of contemporary problems.”
Holdren specifically lauded Brown’s “insights from anthropology, history, economics, geochemistry, biology, and the study of technology” when he endorsed Brown as a mentor.
Nowhere in the 1986 book written to celebrate Brown does Holdren separate himself from Brown’s enthusiastic endorsement of eugenics.
“Thirty years after Harrison Brown elaborated these positions, it remains difficult to improve on them as a coherent depiction of the perils and challenges we face,” Holdren stressed in his 1986 introduction, commenting he includes himself among those “who have been restating his [Brown's] points (usually less eloquently) in the three decades since he first made them.”
As recently as 2007, Holdren gave a speech to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in which his last footnote included Brown as one of the “several late mentors” to whom he was thankful for “insight and inspiration.”
In the first slide of this presentation, Holdren acknowledged, “My preoccupation with the great problems at the intersection of science and technology with the human condition – and with the interconnectedness of these problems with each other – began when I read ‘The Challenge of Man’s Future’ in high school. I later worked with Harrison Brown at Caltech.”
Brown openly advocated eugenics
On page 105 of “The Challenge of Man’s Future,” Brown advocated the implementation of eugenics in a two-step process.
“First, man can discourage unfit persons from breeding. Second, he can encourage breeding by those persons who are judged fit on the basis of physical and mental testing and examinations of the records of their ancestors.”
Brown then commented “a small step” has been made “in the cases of childless couples where the male is sterile and artificial insemination is utilized to impregnate the female.”
This prompted Brown to suggest, “It is quite likely that artificial insemination will be used with increasing frequency during the coming decades, and increasing care will be taken to insure the genetic soundness of the sperm.”
He further speculated, “If civilization survives, it is likely that in the long run we will be able to slow down and perhaps even to halt the deterioration of the species.”
Brown was less optimistic humans could breed for desired characteristics, writing: “We can carry out selection processes satisfactorily with sheep, cows, horses, and dogs, for in all cases we are able to examine the animals objectively and decide upon desirable characteristics.”
Brown expressed doubt human beings could consider themselves equally objectively.
“We cannot hope to carry out a planned evolution of our species for the simple reason that we haven’t the slightest idea of what we want, and no mechanism is available that will permit us to determine what we want,” he wrote.
“A ‘super-race’ of men or a panel of gods could examine us objectively and plan a wise pattern,” he continued on page 106. “But in the absence of either, we will probably remain as we are for hundreds of thousands of years.”
Still, on page 103, Brown remained concerned “it does appear that the feeble-minded, the morons, the dull and backward, and the lower-than-average persons in our society are outbreeding the superior ones at the present time. Indeed, it has been estimated that the average Intelligence Quotient of Western population as a whole is probably decreasing with each succeeding generation.”
Brown recommended abortion and sterilization to control overpopulation.
Earlier, on page 86, Brown had recommended controlling overpopulation by a combination of the following methods:
- Restriction of sexual intercourse;
- Sterilization; and
- Fertility control, “either through the practice of coitus interruptus or through the use of chemicals or devices designed to prevent contraception”.
While he lamented the Catholic Church’s disapproval of contraception measures, Brown was encouraged in 1954 that the future development of a “perfect contraception” would “offer man the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of public health and at the same time to create a stable population.”
Assuming contraception would not control the problem, Brown contemplated that government-mandated rules for a eugenics program utilizing artificial insemination and forced abortion could be imposed.
“Priorities for artificial insemination could be given to healthy women of high intelligence whose ancestors possessed no dangerous genetic defects,” Brown wrote on page 263. “Conversely, priorities for abortions could be given to less intelligent persons of biologically unsound stock.”
Despite expressing concerns that humans possessed the foresight and intelligence to apply eugenics to shape a ‘super-race,’ Brown appeared in the conclusion to his 1954 book to be enthusiastic about the project.
“A broad eugenics program would have to be formulated which would aid in the establishment of policies that would encourage able and healthy persons to have several offspring and discourage the unfit from breeding at excessive rates,” he continued on page 263.
“Precise control of population can never be made completely compatible with the concept of a free society; on the other hand, neither can the automobile, the machine gun, or the atomic bomb,” he wrote on the next page.
“Just as we have rules designed to keep us from killing one another with our automobiles, so there must be rules that keep us from killing one another with our fluctuating breeding habits and with our lack of attention to the soundness of our individual genetic stock.”
WND reported Holdren, in a 1970s college textbook he co-authored with Malthusian population alarmist Paul Ehrlich, argued involuntary birth-control measures, including forced sterilization, may be necessary and morally acceptable under extreme conditions, such as widespread famine brought about by “climate change.”