The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. at their annual meeting at the end of April 1982 in Washington passed by an overwhelming majority of the more than 200 members present a resolution which called upon the U.S. Congress, the President and other world leaders to intensify efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear war. The resolution’s preamble explains that the action recognises that “science offers no prospect of defence against the threat to humanity posed by nuclear war”. It also warns that “any use of nuclear weapons, including use in so-called `limited wars’, would very likely escalate to general nuclear war, which could kill hundreds of millions and destroy civilisation as we know it”. The statement concludes with a call to “avoid military doctrines that treat nuclear explosives as a normal feature of international conflict.
The Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada at their annual meeting early in June 1982 in Ottawa, in response to an appeal initiated by Science for Peace, endorsed this resolution of N.A.S. and informed Prime Minister Trudeau and the Canadian delegation of UNSSODII of their decision.
A resolution without follow-up action may seem singularly ineffective, but we should be encouraged since such expression of concern by scientists at the core of the establishment is quite unprecedented. When the situation is so dangerous that even the establishment begins to be alarmed there is hope for change.