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84.09 Nuclear Winter

The recent report for Science magazine entitled “Global Atmospheric Consequences of Nuclear War”, the authors, R.P. Turco, O.B. Toon, T.P. Ackerman, J.B. Pollack and C. Sagon, have focussed attention on the prospect that the consequences of a nuclear exchange (even a “modest” one of 100 megatons detonated over urban centres) may well be extinction of the human and many other higher order species. If World War IV envisaged by some military planners is to be fought, it is possible that the only combatants would be insects.

Dust and smoke will diffuse over the whole surface of the globe and cause temperatures to plunge for several months to levels that would wipe out enormous stocks of vegetation and animal life, a daunting enough, prospect even without high levels of radiation, infernos, blast and noxious gases. The popular press have picked up the issue (New York Daily News Parade, October 30, 1983; Globe & Mail, December 17, 1983), and it appears that the message is getting through to policy makers, especially as Soviet and Western scientists are not at variance.

Scientists must now press ahead with informed lobbying to underline the urgency of the situation. Science for Peace and Physicians for Social Responsibility are keeping each other informed and hope to undertake joint initiatives. In the meantime, there are two PSR events members of S4P should be aware of:

Friday, March 9, 1984 “Physicians’ Responsibility in a Nuclear Age” Delta Meadowvale Inn, Mississagua (sponsored by the McMaster Faculty of Health Sciences group)

Saturday, May 5, 1984 “Human Survival” Manitoba (contact Dr. Ian Carr, president, PSR at (204) 237-2707)

The first event will not focus on nuclear winter. However, the second will attempt to establish the credibility of the nuclear winter model. In due course, PSR would like to compile a paperback book on the model.

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