In an on-the-fly interview with CNSNews.com, White House Office of Science and Technology Director John P. Holdren explained what he meant when he wrote in his 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions that "A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States."
In that book, co-authored with Paul and Anne H. Ehrlich, Holdren also calls wealth redistribution (both within and among nations) "absolutely essential" in order to provide a decent life for everyone.
CNSNews.com: "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: "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."
When asked how this would be achieved, Holdren responded, "Through the free-market economy."
Holdren has long worried about population overgrowth and what might happen should our current environmental and economic state not be able to support the world's inhabitants. In Human Ecology, CNS News points out, he also calls for "political," "legal," and "boycott" action in order to make sure that resources and wealth are distributed evenly:
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.
H/T: CNS reporter Nicholas Ballasy