Letter

The following letter was sent to Science for Peace, dated December 18, 1990:

I’m glad that you are infinitely forgiving when it comes to ignoring letters concerning membership renewal; however, I probably shouldn’t try to test your definition of infinity. I have been more than ignoring your letters. I have been trying to decide whether I should, in fact, continue my membership. For what does membership really mean to a member outside of the Toronto/Vancouver centres? It means paying dues and reading a Bulletin that is largely concerned with the activities of a few in those two centres.

When I joined Science for Peace, I had hoped that it would encourage and support scientists like myself to use our talents in exercises such as the Nuclear Winter calculations. I had hoped that the Bulletin would contain the type of articles such as appear in the Bulletin of Nuclear Scientists where facts are presented and conclusions argued in a logical rational framework. Instead much of it is the usual rhetoric and emotion that I read in the newsletters of Project Ploughshares and the now departed Operation Dismantle.

If I were in Toronto or Vancouver, then I would have likely shown up at several of your meetings and pounded the table and tried to make a change. But outside academia and outside of Toronto/Vancouver I was planning to slip out of your organization as quietly as I slipped in a few years earlier; unnoticed by anyone except for the treasurer.

I had not really decided when I began this letter whether it would be a letter of explanation about why my renewal was late or a letter of resignation of my membership. It is the latter since I can neither say that your organization contributes to society more than many other organizations which are asking for my charitable dollars or see that I can effectively work through your organization to help society better understand the scientific and technical realities behind the decisions that they and their elected representatives must make.

Concerning this last point, I was particularly disappointed in the proposal to study the hazards associated with Nuclear Power. The provided documentation seemed to show no familiarity with the vast body of material available on this subject from the UN and its agencies. Many scientists such as myself have been asked over the years to sit on international panels and to review the evidence on all aspects of the nuclear power cycles. In spite of going into these exercises often with the hearts and emotions of the environmental movement, most of us leave believing the industry is honestly discussing the risks involved.

In spite of the fact I am leaving you, I would like to leave you with my best wishes, I really do hope that I will read of your activities in the magazines and newspapers over the coming years.

— R. Allyn Clarke Halifax, Nova Scotia

The editor replies:

We are naturally very sorry to hear that you are leaving Science for Peace as it appears that you have much to offer this organization in terms of ideas and expert experience. By way of commenting, it should be noted that the Board and the Executive are keenly aware of the limitations imposed by the main concentrations of our active membership being in Toronto and Vancouver. This just happens to be an historical and geographical reality that we would be very happy to overcome by way of massive increases in membership from elsewhere in Canada. Have you any concrete recommendations on how we can correct this shortcoming?

Not only do Science for Peace members in Southern Ontario agree with you that projects such as Nuclear Winter would be highly appropriate for the organization to consider, we have tried to do something along such lines by means of the ‘Retreat to Discuss Science for Peace Activities’ which was held in early November 1989. The account of this retreat was given in Vol. 9, No. 3 of the Bulletin (pages 22- 26). As many projects as can be are being pursued with the present interested membership.

Your criticisms concerning the proposed nuclear power project may be valid. Why not let Science for Peace have the benefit of your experience in this matter?

As for your feelings about the Bulletin I am limited by my own experience and competence in commenting on whatever aspects of science and technology that bear on the central tenets of our organization. Other than this, I am limited by the scope and relevance of the articles, reviews, letters and other materials people send me and which I decide are appropriate for publication. It is from critics like yourself, with expertise and points of view on Science for Peace questions, that articles and reviews, suggestions for projects and the like could add greatly to the repertoire of the activities of the organization and the qualities of the Bulletins.

There are, in fact, a number of active members in the Maritimes. If they could find ways to associate with one another or recruit additional members, perhaps some of your understandable feelings of being marginalized might be overcome.

I hope that you will either reconsider your decision to leave Science for Peace, or at least not lose track of us in case you should find our activities become more to your liking in the near future.

— Alan H. Weatherley, Editor

TITLE: Editorial Matters
AUTHOR: Alan Weatherley
DATE: 1991/11/01 12:00:00
PRIMARY CATEGORY: bulletin-199102