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John Holdren, professor of environmental policy at Harvard University and director of the Woods Hole Research Center, will bring a principled, reasoned approach to the White House as science adviser to President-elect Barack Obama. Holdren, who also serves as co-chair of the independent National Commission on Energy Policy, is expected to be named to the post tomorrow, according to a <a href="http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/18738/harvard_kennedy_schools_john_p_holdren_to_be_named

Kevin Ferguson

December 19, 2008

2 Min Read

John Holdren, professor of environmental policy at Harvard University and director of the Woods Hole Research Center, will bring a principled, reasoned approach to the White House as science adviser to President-elect Barack Obama. Holdren, who also serves as co-chair of the independent National Commission on Energy Policy, is expected to be named to the post tomorrow, according to a Harvard Kennedy School official Web site.Holdren has his point of view, make no mistake: He pointedly criticized the Bush administration for its energy policy in the October issue of Scientific American:

"Unfortunately, the Bush administration has wasted the last eight years. It should have been taking decisive action but engaged instead in systematic understatement of the danger: it has made ridiculous assertions that the U.S. should not do anything that China does not agree to do and has stubbornly insisted that no action should be taken to improve climate change 'if it hurts the economy.' This last rationalization translates into 'if it costs anybody any money' and is roughly akin to saying that the country should not defend itself against terrorism because that costs money." But as a former grad school student of Professor Holdren, I can tell you that he listens to all sides of an argument and has a staggeringly deep understanding of the related issues of energy, the environment, and nuclear power (both as weaponry and an energy source). He is a man of science, first and foremost. He kept politics out of the classroom, while maintaining his science-based argument that climate change is real. (And he makes it a point to call it "climate change" and not "global warming," because the latter implies a steady, uninterrupted climb in temperatures, rather than increasingly erratic weather patterns within that climb.) "John Holdren is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to science -- and climate science in particular," Betsy Boyle, a manager at CERES and a Holdren classmate of mine, wrote when she heard the news. "He sees both the forest and the trees when it comes to causes of, and solutions to, climate change. As science adviser to President-elect Obama, he will provide both the perspective and the facts that will help create forward-thinking policies." For those of you not familiar with Professor Holdren, here are some links to his background: -- His C.V., posted on the Woods Hole Research Center's Web site. -- Holdren's biography and link to his publications at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs -- Holdren speech at Harvard Kennedy School, titled "Global Climate Disruption: What do we know? What should we do?" I expect him to bring the same reasoned, scientific approach as science adviser to Obama.

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