Immediately following, the authors evaluated regulatory options that would be available to government if sterilizing capsules were implemented.
“Economist Kenneth [Boulding’s] proposal was to issue to each woman at maturity a marketable license that would entitle her to a given number of children — say 2.2 in order to have [a National Replacement Rate of zero],” says page 787.
Working around the 2.2 figure, Holdren and the Ehrlichs discussed a child-trading scheme similar to the “cap and trade” carbon exchange system.
“Some couples might be allowed to have a third child if they purchased “deci-child” units from the government or from other women who had decided not to have their full allotments of children or who found they had a greater need for the money,” says page 787.
In addition to weighing the capsule implanting approach, the authors addressed another startling method of forced sterilization.
“Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control… To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective… it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets or livestock,” says pages 787-788.
While Holdren and the Ehrlichs envisioned difficulties in the implementation of drinkable and edible sterilants, they said obligatory abortions constituted a more feasible method of population control.
“Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society,” says page 837.
The authors’ interest in regulating population, however, did not merely transcend the Constitution; it extended worldwide.
In the final pages of Ecoscience, Holdren and the Ehrlichs pondered the possibility of “a Planetary Regime — sort of an international superagency for population, resources, and environment” (page 943). “The planetary regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits.”
Though the book discussed in detail many ways to significantly reduce global population, Holdren’s office said these strategies are merely previously stated policies options and not the suggestions of the authors.
Director of Communications for the Office of Science and Technology Policy Rick Weiss said that Holdren does not promote the policies he wrote about in Ecoscience.
“Dr. Holdren has never been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive means of limiting population,” Weiss said. “The book notes that some have suggested the use of coercive contraception, but the authors themselves note the obvious moral objections to such approaches.”
Holdren’s co-author, Anne Ehrlich, echoed Weiss’s response to questions about some of the shocking depopulation ideas addressed in the textbook.
“If you read the population chapter carefully, you [will find] that we clearly did not endorse any of those suggestions but indicated that we favored voluntary birth control,” Ehrlich said.
Paul Ehrlich did not reply to request for comment.