Science For Peace Renewal

For three sunny days and four nights (July 7-11, 2005), 13 Science for Peace members attended a retreat on Wasan Island in Lake Rosseau, Muskoka, as guests of the Breuninger Foundation.

“There are many radical changes that we need to make to save the planet, but we are not likely to make them until we have changed ourselves.” What is needed is nothing less than “a transformation of consciousness.” — Jim George, Asking for the Earth, p. 21.

Identifying and Prioritizing Global Issues

The discussions were preceded by warm congratulations to Julia Morton-Marr who is one of only nine Canadian women to be nominated with the thousand women for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Helmut opened the discussions with an overview of value systems. Derek described the Global Issues Project (GIP). The first plan of GIP is to organize roundtables to connect not only to government but also the grass roots. John emphasized the need to achieve a “multiplier effect” through the grass roots.

Reference was made to Derek’s paper presented at the 2003 Pugwash conference to the interdependent factors which could bring about collapse of civilization: population, agriculture, forests, water, fisheries, energy, climate change, disease, war, inappropriate myths and faulty social structures. These are the concerns to which the GIP will direct its attention. It was noted that ocean fisheries have already been decimated.

Supranational and UN Solutions

The group came up with the following goals for the UN Reform Working Group:

  1. to support Resolution 1325 of the Security Council on gender equality;
  2. to support plausible and beneficial reforms of the UN
  3. to support continued recognition of the “global commons”

It was also agreed by consensus to prepare a statement to be sent from SfP to all 191 member states of the UN promoting these and possibly other initiatives. [Adrian is preparing the draft.]

Hanna spoke of the idea of a Peoples’ General Assembly to balance the present General Assembly of states. This concept was discussed in a chapter of UN Reform (eds. Hanna Newcombe and Eric Fawcett, Science for Peace 1995).

Ensuing suggestions for Canadian policy included Canada working more with Nordic countries, using our bargaining power of water, oil and gas with the US. Science for Peace should work more with KAIROS, a church coalition, and try to mobilize Canadian academics.

What Canada can Contribute to the Betterment of the World

Rose described the work of Canadians Concerned About Violence in Entertainment (C-CAVE) and gave the example of an increase in car theft directly related to the introduction of a video game of car theft into the community.

Rose will be proposing the making of a video on media literacy as a Science for Peace project.

Phyllis addressed the question of what Canada can contribute for the betterment of the world. Since we are interdependent for air, water, and land we must listen to each other and look for opportunities and a critical mass. We can:

  1. Respond to corporate partnership plans. The impact of research is not addressed, e.g., biotech leading to biowars.
  2. Work to delegitimize war.
  3. Support nuclear conferences, e.g., the Southern Hemisphere Conference where 80% of nations are nuclear-free.
  4. Increase the number of Mayors for Peace already in 110 countries.
  5. Support the Convention on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons by 2020. A poll shows 93% of Canadians want Canada to lead in the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“Moveon.org” was recommended as a good way to raise funds and mobilize support. Phyllis asked for more leadership from Science for Peace on nuclear and space issues. Nuclear-weapons-free zones are increasing, specifically, five former USSR countries in Central Asia, and we should press again for Canada to be a NWFZ.[This topic is also on the agenda of the 1 October Joint Forum of Science for Peace and the Pugwash Group.]

Updating and Redefining the Science for Peace Mandate.

Joan led a discussion on our mandate. It includes sustainability and justice. We need a statement for our own use emphasizing our resistance to the war on the poor and on the environment.

Science for Peace should rejuvenate itself. This means recruiting numerous scientists (adopting the broadest definition of “scientist”) into our membership from the university faculties. The urgency and importance of this step was emphasized — the step is inescapable.

Our constitution states that 60% of our members should be scientists. Letters to 600 prospective members have been sent out. We need to support the Student Science for Peace organization. Students should be invited into our Working Groups (WGs

How to Vitalize and Rejuvenate Science for Peace

Julia and Rose elicited the following comments using mind maps:

  1. Rejuvenate Science for Peace,
  2. Email “moveon” on how to ask people to do actions and contribute money
  3. Use ads, notices in papers
  4. Create a strategy,
  5. Revive Science for Peace lectures
  6. Use mind maps
  7. Do a test run and evaluate actions
  8. Use the Ottawa Process – work around the US
  9. Multiplier effect is more likely in ecological issues
  10. Identify our partners, e.g., Conservation Council of Ontario.
  11. Use a cultural funnel. What do people want to hear? Our priority is to improve humanity’s chance of survival.

Methods include: letter writing, roundtables, papers, speeches and modeling conflict resolution. Our website should ask people to do things.

We need to nurture columnists, editors, secretaries, gatekeepers, TVO Great Ideas, Vision TV, CPAC, radio, etc. Contact and research the success of “moveon.org”.

Work with the government where possible, examine current legislation, build relationships with the diasporas during conflicts. Recreate SfP’s Speakers’ Bureau.

One participant suggested that we ought to hire a full-time Executive Director, having knowledge of the media and excellence in advertising and publicity. The idea found much favour with participants, but there was no discussion of how SfP might raise the necessary funds.

Another suggestion was that the SfP office should construct web links for important institutions, such as the Suzuki Foundation, which has published numerous reports of vital topics, recently on Climate Change.

Julia also hoped that video conferencing might extend beyond the Sustainabilty Education WG, the only WG to have used it so far.

We need to foster national outreach and have greater transparency.

Joint Projects of Science for Peace and the Breuninger Foundation

Helga Breuninger outlined the beginning of the Foundation and described its current purpose and method of working. She is facilitating a paradigm shift from domination to partnership and cooperation and the development of a global consciousness.

She advocated we try the “Wisdom Council” circle at a Board meeting where people dialogue until a solution is found. All organizations need this, she said.

Helmut led a discussion on how we might cooperate with the Foundation. We have many common goals: betterment of the human condition, interdisciplinary methodology, systemic knowledge and access to scholars and institutions.

We could cooperate with the Breuninger Foundation at the World Peace Forum in June 2006 in Vancouver, in a joint project. The Foundation would contribute the expenses and Science for Peace the content.

In addition, Helmut suggested cooperation between the Breuninger Foundation and the Canadian Pugwash Group in CPG’s outreach program to corporate leaders. The purpose of the program is to convince such leaders that promoting security is in their own self-interest since wars and terrorism can destroy their assets. (This is a project being pursued by Adele Buckley and a few other members of the Canadian Pugwash Group).

Closing

The Retreat ended in a circle connecting the energy of the whole group.

Present at the retreat were Renate and Helmut Burkhardt, Phyllis Creighton, Rose Dyson, Shirley Farlinger, Antoinette and Adrian Kuzminski, John McRuer, Joan Montgomerie, Julia Morton-Marr, Hanna Newcombe, Derek Paul and Herschel Stroyman.

Contact sfp@physics.utoronto.ca for the full report on the Science for Peace Retreat on Wasan Island.13