President's Message

On 8 May, immediately preceding the Annual General Meeting, those present were fortunate to hear David Parnas’ address, concluding his long term of office as President of Science for Peace. It was a talk that will long be remembered and that will be made available in written form to people vho could not attend the AGM.

We bid farewell to him as President sadly. We will continue to need his skills and profound knowledge, experience and insights. We thank him for his service and hope he will remain near at hand.

We also bid a sad farewell to Phyllis Creighton as Secretary of Science for Peace. Though she served only one year, she was previously President of the Toronto Chapter, and her advice, profound knowledge and skills had often been available to us before that. We thank her for her long and valued service and hope she too will remain strongly involved.

It is time now to look forward and consider what Science for Peace could and should be doing in the very complex world left over from the Cold War years of the eighties, especially in view of the present trends in world politics and economics, and the changes within the UN itself. The disarmament issues that our past presidents have often emphasized are no less relevant today, but now all the peace issues are more widely understood to be linked and interwoven into the fabric of life. There is a link between the injustice to a single individual imprisoned without cause, and injustice to millions through despotism. Neglect of the environment and neglect of the human race go hand in hand. And militarism, especially as it is coupled to the arms trade, impedes progress on all fronts: justice, economic justice and the environment.

As a scientist I want to distinguish between important problems where the survival of an ordered human society is concerned, and equally vital problems that are, in addition, urgent. Of these the disappearance of the ozone layer is an example of the urgent class of problem and it is one that in principle can be solved — if we haven’t left it too late. It is a scientific and technical problem as well as human and political. There are many other urgent problems that do not appear quite as tractable, but that are eating into the Earth’s fragile life-structure, for example, the civil wars now being fought in many areas. Yet solutions to these problems must also be found.

Science for Peace will continue its quest for peace in the long term, toward a liveable and just world. But we may have to divert our attention from time to time to matters that are urgent.

I am aware that members of Science for Peace in places remote from our central office often have the impression that their membership subscription vanishes, with little to show for it. How can I convince you of the reality? With six working groups active, four having produced papers or a book last year, and with nine of our own books in print plus another in preparation, the office at University College always has much more to do than routine mailing. Your support, wherever you are, is absolutely vital to us. Please keep it up, increase it.

We also want your participation in our ongoing activities or your initiation of new ones.

Lastly I implore you to sustain the momentum gained toward peace in the eighties. Approach your friends and acquaintances and bring them in as new members of Science for Peace.