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Science Blog Reports Obama to Name John P. Holdren as Science Adviser
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Past AAAS President and Chairman John P. Holdren, a widely recognized expert on global climate change and how to address it, will be named as science adviser to President Barack Obama, says a report from Science's Science Insider blog.
The Science Insider report, published Thursday afternoon, said that initial plans called for the president-elect to make the announcement during a weekly radio program to be broadcast on Saturday. Holdren flew to Chicago to meet with the transition team and prepare for the announcement, Science reporter Eli Kintisch wrote in Science Insider.
AAAS emphasized that the news report by Science's editorially independent news team had not been verified by an official announcement. However, the report was welcomed as another strong signal of the Obama administration's commitment to science and technology.
"This would be an enlightened appointment," said AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner, who also serves as executive publisher of Science. "John Holdren's expertise spans so many issues of great concern at this point in history—climate change, energy and energy technology, nuclear proliferation. He is widely respected in the United States and around the world as a science leader."
"John's appointment brings a strong intellect and deep commitment to science into the Science Advisor's office," said David Baltimore, chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors. "Not only is his knowledge of energy-related issues remarkable but his ability to translate science into approriate policy recommendations makes him an especially wonderful choice."
Also Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration has tapped former AAAS President Jane Lubchenco to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Though AAAS did not independently confirm the appointment, the Post cited several unnamed sources as saying Lubchenco was en route to Chicago for the announcement. An influential conservationist and marine biologist based at Oregon State University, she served as president of AAAS in 1997 and as chair of the Board of Directors in 1998.
Holdren served as president of AAAS from February 2006 to February 2007; he then served as chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors until February 2008.
He is director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and also serves as the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard. He served as a member of President Bill Clinton's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1993 to 2001. He also served as an adviser to the Obama campaign.
Trained in aeronautics, astronautics and plasma physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford, Holdren co-founded and co-led for 23 years the campus-wide interdisciplinary graduate degree program in energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley. His work has focused on causes and consequences of global environmental change, analysis of energy technologies and policies, ways to reduce the dangers from nuclear weapons and materials, and the interaction of content and process in science and technology policy.
Holdren is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In December 1995, he delivered the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; he served as chair of the Pugwash executive committee from 1987 to 1997.
As he prepared to assume the presidency at AAAS, he said: "I believe strongly in the power of partnerships, across institutions, sectors, and countries, for addressing the great challenges at the intersection of science and technology with the human condition—the challenges of poverty, disease, weapons of mass destruction, environmental impoverishment, climate change, terrorism, and more. I also believe strongly in the power of education—of students, of professionals, of publics, of policy-makers—in increasing the capacity of society to meet and surmount these challenges."
In an August 2006 commentary for the San Francisco Chronicle, Holdren and Leshner stressed the importance of energy conservation to address the threats posed by climate change.
"A prudent strategy must combine adaptation with effective measures to reduce the pace and magnitude of climate change," they wrote. "The best mitigation option immediately available is to accelerate the long-standing trend in raising the efficiency of energy use with the help of more efficient cars, trucks, planes, buildings, appliances and manufacturing processes. Between 1973 and 2005, the United States saved three times more energy through improvements in energy efficiency than through expanded supply. Those reductions in energy use also brought big reductions in what U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions otherwise would have been...
"The huge reductions in carbon dioxide emissions required to stabilize the climate will be attainable only if a strong push for increased energy efficiency is accompanied by an equally strong push to replace the predominantly fossil sources of fuel and electricity in today's world with some combination of renewable energy sources, nuclear energy and advanced fossil-fuel technologies that capture and sequester carbon dioxide rather than releasing it to the atmosphere."
In his presidential address to the AAAS Annual Meeting in 2007, Holdren said world leaders would have to address contemporary challenges by working on a range of fronts—economic, diplomatic and technological. He urged scientists and engineers to get personally involved in developing solutions, and he drew a standing ovation when he called on them to "tithe" 10% of their time to "to working to increase the benefits of science and technology for the human condition and to decrease the liabilities."
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), founded in 1848, is the world's largest general scientific society; it serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. It is publisher of the journal Science, which has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world and an estimated total readership of 1 million. AAAS is a non-profit organization, with membership open to everyone. It fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; communication and more.
18 December 2008