Presented by Professor Joseph Rotblat
20th Annual Student Pugwash Conference
University of California—San Diego
June 28–July 4, 1999
It is now 23 years since I retired from my University Chair and became a “gentleman of leisure.” In my case leisure meant working full time on matters that are essentially of a moral and political nature, such as, the elimination of nuclear weapons and the abolition of war. But the first five decades of my adult life were spent on scientific research—first in nuclear physics and later on its applications to medicine. In this lecture I want to go back to science, to discuss its past role in society, and the role it should play in the future, a role that may affect the lives of generations to come.
We are now at the threshold of a new millennium. This is an appropriate time to reflect on the legacy we are handing down from the past, especially from the century that is now coming to an end. There can be no doubt that the 20th century has been a unique century, with more momentous changes than in any previous century: changes for better, changes for worse; changes that have brought enormous benefits to human beings, changes that threaten the very existence of the human species. The world today is completely different from the world into which I was born in the first decade of this century.
Many factors have contributed to these changes, but in my opinion the most important factor—the dominating factor—has been the progress made in the natural sciences.
I was five years old when the First World War broke out. My formative years—when as a young child I began to comprehend the world around me—were spent in utter poverty and hardship. At that time I began to develop a great passion for science, science pursued not only to satisfy our thirst for knowledge, but as the means to alleviate the miseries of life that I experienced every day: death and destruction; hunger and cold; squalor and disease; degradation and cruelty. I fervently believed that science could, and would, put an end to these evils. It was this dream that sustained me in those terrible years during and immediately after the war.
Now—as a nonagenarian, looking back at this dream of a child—I am glad to note that much of the dream has come true. On the whole, the world is much better off at the end of the century than it was at its beginning. And most of the betterment is the consequence of the progress made in the natural sciences.
Infectious diseases that killed so many in infancy and young age, are now a thing of the past. The average life-span has generally increased dramatically. Greatly improved techniques in agriculture have made it possible—at least potentially—to provide food for the world population, even though the world population has been growing very fast as a result of better health and hygiene. New industrial technologies applied in factories and mines have largely removed the drudgery and mindlessness of labour, as well as reducing working hours and increasing safety standards. The products of the new industrial technologies have also lessened the chores of day-to-day life, such as housing amenities, food preparation and materials for clothing. The fantastic progress in communication and information has given more and more people access to the great cultural achievements—to books, concerts, museums, as well enabling them to keep in touch with current events via radio, television and the Internet. All this has made it possible for them to be more actively involved in the life of the community, whether at local, national or world-wide level. Altogether, people nowadays are much healthier, more affluent, better educated and informed, and thus more disposed to live in peace with one another, than at the beginning of this century. And, as I said, all this came about mainly as a result of the application of science to day-to-day life.
Sadly, however, I have also to note many negative applications of science. Firstly, the benefits of science are not enjoyed by all people to the same degree. One result of this is that, in relative terms, there is now a much wider gap between the industrialized and the developing nations, as well as between the upper and lower strata within individual nations. This has created new social tensions which may lead to strife and military confrontation.
Furthermore, the better-off nations—and the affluent strata within nations—do not seem to be satisfied with their high standards of living. They want ever more luxuries; greed, the hallmark of the capitalist system, is a driving force. The result is excessive consumption of energy and squandering of natural resources. These excesses, in a world with an ever increasing population, may lead to a catastrophic degradation of the environment. We are poisoning ourselves with our own affluence. Unless drastic steps are initiated soon to deal with the ecological problems, we may be heading for global disaster and the destruction of many species, including the human one.
Above all, the use of science and technology to develop and produce weapons of mass destruction, has created a real threat to the continued existence of the human race on this planet. This is already the case with nuclear weapons. Although their actual use in combat has so far been confined to the destruction of two Japanese cities, during the four decades of the Cold War obscenely huge arsenals of nuclear weapons were accumulated and made ready for use. The arsenals were so large that if the weapons had actually been detonated, the result could have been the complete extinction of the human species, as well as of many animal species. To a very large extent this was due to the work of scientists. Many of them did it not because of any credible security requirement—arsenals a hundred times smaller would have sufficed for any conceivable need for deterrence—but simply to satisfy their inflated egos, for the intense exhilaration experienced in exploring new scientific concepts. This is a complete perversion of the lofty ideals of science. It is a terrible but warranted indictment of members of a highly respected group in society.
On several occasions during the Cold War we came very close to the ultimate catastrophe. Each time we were saved at the last moment because the leaders concerned were sane people; but can we be sure that we will be so lucky next time? According to Robert McNamara: “The indefinite combination of nuclear weapons and human fallibility will lead to a nuclear exchange.”
That human society is capable of being led to extreme inhumanity is exemplified by another gruesome event of this century. I am referring to the holocaust. Millions of people—literally millions—were put to death for no reason other than that they were members of certain ethnic groups. And this genocide was carried out not in a spontaneous act of frenzy; not in some ritualistic fight between primitive tribes; not as a last resort in the face of extermination. It was carried out in cold blood, in a systematic fashion, in a carefully prepared plan; it was executed with scientific precision, using a chemical “zyklon”, which was invented by a scientist, a Nobel Laureate. It was perpetrated by one of the most civilized of nations.
These two events—the holocaust and the nuclear arms race that began with the Hiroshima bomb—are in my opinion the worst chapters in the 20th century, a very violent century by any measure, with some 160 million people estimated to have perished in various conflicts. Although having different causes and consequences, these two events demonstrate the degree of lunacy to which our minds can descend, the depths of depravity to which our society is capable of sinking. These evils must never be forgotten. Future generations must be constantly reminded that there is no limit to the evil that can be perpetrated by Man on Man. Every country should set up—as part of its millennium commemorations—museums of the holocaust and of the atom bomb.
William Shakespeare had said: “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” My brief review of the application of one strand of human activities, science, seems to bear out this adage. But does it have to be so? Must ill always co-exist with good? To be more explicit: are we biologically programmed for aggression and war?
I am no authority in genetics, but from my readings and life-long observations, I see no evidence that we are genetically condemned to commit evil. On the contrary, on very general grounds I would venture to say that we are destined to do things that are of benefit to the human species, and that the capacity for aggression was acquired as a transient requisite in the struggle for survival. In other words, I start from the assumption that Man is inherently good. This has been my basic philosophy since my youth, and all the terrible events of this century that I have mentioned—including personal tragedy—have not shaken this belief.
I would like to expand on this philosophy as part of my attempt to outline the future role of science in relation to human values, although it is not a necessary part of my argument.
I mentioned the goodness of Man. By doing this I entered into the field of ethics, which for most people is linked with religion. I do not quarrel with people who seek ethical guidance in religion, as long as they do not insist on imposing their religious doctrines on others; when this happens, religion becomes a highly negative, even dangerous element in society. As a scientist, I try to derive ethical concepts on rational grounds, in terms of the laws of nature, mainly the laws of physics.
The laws of physics seem to be able to explain the evolution of life from inanimate matter to simple living organisms, and thence to plants, to animals, to Man. The human species is the outcome of a continuous, inexorable process that has led, through random mutations influenced by environmental factors, to the emergence of systems of ever better adaptation, thus safeguarding their continuity. In animals, this has led to the evolution of species with increasing intelligence, climaxing in the human species, which has acquired the ability of original thinking. I believe that this marks a very important phase in evolution: the first time that Man was able to take charge of his own destiny.
The acquisition of the power of original thinking has added a new dimension to the process of natural evolution: a much faster cultural evolution. It has resulted in huge strides in all aspects of civilization—in the arts, in literature, in medicine, in technology, above all, in science, which is at the forefront of the expansion of the human intellect. However, these very advances in science have led to our acquiring the capacity for self-destruction, to the development of the means to destroy the human species itself.
As I have shown, this has already happened in one area, with the development of nuclear weapons. But other means of wholesale destruction, perhaps more readily available than nuclear weapons, may result from further scientific research, if it is allowed to go on without any restriction.
We are thus faced with a daunting dilemma. As part of cultural evolution, science should be allowed to develop freely, with no restrictions put on it. But can we afford the luxury of uninhibited research—which may lead to an even greater potential for total destruction—in a world in which war is still a recognized social institution?
For the preservation, and continuing enhancement of the human species, we need to learn to live with one another in peace and harmony. But this learning process has been slow and arduous, and is far from being complete. In the distant past, under the harsh conditions in which primitive Man lived, he often had to kill for survival, in competition for food or for a mate. Later on, when communities were formed, groups of people were killing other groups of people for the same reason, and war became part of our culture. But now such motivation is no longer valid. Thanks largely to the advances in science and technology, there is no need for people to kill one another for survival. If properly managed and distributed, there could be enough food and other life necessities for everybody, even with the huge increase in world population. But as already mentioned, the problem is that the resources are not distributed evenly, and thus many people are still starving, many children are still dying from malnutrition. We have still much to do before the basic cause of war is removed in practice.
Apart from the basic cause, survival, other causes of war, based on tribal, cultural, religious or ideological differences, have arisen in course of time and resulted in terrible carnage. Most of these causes are derivatives of the basic cause, and they too are becoming obsolete. The increasing interdependence of nations, and the rapidly growing means of communication, such as the Internet, which enable people to talk to each other directly, is instrumental in removing prejudice and mistrust which mostly stem from ignorance.
Indeed, there are signs that we are learning the lessons of history and are moving towards a war-free world. In the two World Wars of this century, France and Germany were mortal enemies. Young people of these and many other countries were slaughtered by the millions. But now a war between France and Germany seems inconceivable. The same applies to the other members of the European Union. There are still many disputes between them over a variety of issues, but these are being settled by negotiations, by mutual give-and-take agreements. The members of the European Union have learned to solve their problems by peaceful means.
The same is beginning to take place in other continents. Military regimes are on the decline; more and more countries are becoming democracies. Despite the terrible bloodshed still taking place—the recent tribal genocide in Rwanda; the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo—the number of international and internal wars is decreasing. Slowly and painfully we are appreciating the folly of war and learning how to resolve conflicts without resorting to military confrontation.
However, we are not there yet. We are still not organized for a war-free world. In the meantime, the human species may be brought to an end by the use of the tools of destruction, themselves resulting from science and technology.
In my opinion, the problem has to a large extent arisen from the uneven advancements in the different areas of human activities, in particular, the discrepancy between the progress made in the natural sciences—which include the physical and biological disciplines—and that made in the various social sciences: economics, sociology, political science, psychology. There is no doubt that there has been much faster progress in the natural sciences than in the social ones.
Why have the natural sciences, especially the physical sciences, advanced so much faster than the social sciences? Two main reasons come to mind. One, the social sciences became recognized as scientific disciplines much later than the physical sciences; indeed, even now there are many who doubt whether the social sciences can be classified as such. Related to this is the second reason, that the subject matter of the social sciences is much more difficult to master than the physical sciences. Physics, for example, deals with highly intricate matters, but the laws of physics are immutable, they apply everywhere, on this planet or everywhere else in the universe. They are not affected by human reactions and emotions, as the social sciences are.
Indeed—if I may digress for a moment—it is these very characteristics of the physical sciences that have led to the “ivory tower” mentality of the natural scientists, to their assertions that science is neutral, that it has nothing to do with politics, and should be allowed to be undertaken for its own sake, without regard to the ways it may be applied. In its extreme form, it was this attitude that enabled the scientists in the military establishments on both sides of the iron curtain, in Los Alamos and Livermore, in the Chelyabinsks and the Arzamases, to use their ingenuity to keep on inventing new, or improving old, instruments of destruction during the Cold War, and has led to the build up of the huge nuclear arsenals with the capacity to destroy the human species. It is this frame of mind that currently enables scientists working in genetic engineering to propose experiments that could play havoc with our genetic make up.
How can we tackle this unevenness in the rate of progress of different areas of science? The two alternatives are: accelerate the rate of progress in the social sciences, or slow down the rate of advancement of the natural sciences in some areas.
Clearly, the former is preferable by far. What we would like to see is faster progress in the social sciences, leading to the establishment of a social system that would make war not only unnecessary but unthinkable; a system in which the existence of old, or the invention of new, weapons of mass destruction, would not matter, because nobody would dream of using them; a system which Victor Weisskopf described succinctly: “nuclear weapons, who cares?”
How long will it take to achieve this ideal state? Considering that it would require an educational process to develop and nurture in us a feeling of loyalty to mankind, transcending national boundaries, it may be a long time coming. Earlier than this much progress can be made by initiating a comprehensive programme of political measures, aiming at enhancing confidence in relations between nations; increasing adherence to international law; and strengthening the peacekeeping and peace-enforcing instruments of the United Nations. Eventually it would mean setting up a system of global governance.
What can be done to accelerate progress in the various disciplines of the social sciences? I do not know enough about these sciences to offer specific suggestions. But it seems to me that social sciences would benefit from the adoption of some of the methodology of the natural sciences. In the first instance, by greater reliance on fact than on opinion; on a rational approach in place of precedents; on objective analysis rather than on preconceived ideas. This may reduce somewhat the very wide divergence of views that is now apparent in the social sciences.
George Bernard Shaw had said: “If you take all economists in the world and lie them end to end, you would still not get agreement on a single idea.” This was said a long time ago, and by now this may no longer be true. Economics is now recognized as a respectable discipline, with the prospect of a Nobel Prize for its luminaries.
However, even with much greater effort, it will take a long time to achieve the objectives that I have outlined. Meanwhile the threats now hanging over our heads could become a reality, should there occur a major military conflict. We have therefore to consider, in addition, the alternative approach, namely imposing some restraint on research in the natural sciences.
At first this sounds unimaginable, a limitation on scientific research is almost a contradiction in terms. How can thinking be muzzled? How can one control the ideas that come into one’s head? We still remember the political regimes that tried to do this, and nobody wants to bring them back. Moreover, scientific research is very likely to bring huge further benefits to us all, and we should not do anything that may hinder such outcomes.
But given that unlimited research may also lead to grave dangers, as I have described, the prevention of these dangers should, in my opinion, have priority, even if it means that, temporarily, science does not have a completely free run. After all, we do not need to do everything; we don’t have to pursue every idea that comes into our heads. In exercising our intellectual powers we can afford to be selective, and the basis for the selection should be responsibility for the consequences of our work.
This responsibility has not yet been fully recognized by the scientific community. Despite the enormous impact of science on the world community, many scientists still cling to the “ivory tower” mentality. Their logic rests on the distinction between pure and applied science. It is the application of science that can be harmful, they say. As far as pure science is concerned, the only obligation on the scientist is to make the results of research known to the public. What the public does with them is their business, not that of the scientist.
Actually, the distinction between pure and applied science is a remnant of the distant past when scientific research was completely divorced from day-to-day life, and practical applications that could have resulted from academic research were remote in time and space. It would take decades before an application was found, and then it would have been taken up by different people, mostly engineers, in polytechnics or industrial laboratories.
Nowadays, the distinction is hardly discernible. Practical applications often follow immediately after scientific discoveries, and are pursued by the same people. University scientists are encouraged to do applied research, to enable them to be financially self-sufficient.
The amoral attitudes of the advocates of the laissez-faire policy for science is actually highly immoral, because it eschews personal responsibility for one’s actions.
We live in a world community with ever greater interdependence; an interdependence largely due to technical advancement arising from scientific research. An interdependent community offers great benefits to its members, but by the same token it imposes obligations on them. Every citizen has to be accountable for his/her deeds. We all have a responsibility to society.
But the need for such responsibility is particularly imperative on scientists, mainly because scientists understand the technical problems better than the average citizen or the politician. And knowledge brings responsibility.
In any case, the scientists do not have a completely free hand. The general public, through elected governments, have the means to control science, either by withholding the purse, or by imposing restrictive regulations harmful to science. Clearly, it is far better that any control should be exercised by the scientists themselves. It is most important that science improves its public image, that it regains the respect of the community for its integrity, trust in its pronouncements. Scientists must show by their conduct that it is possible to combine creativeness with compassion; letting the imagination roam with caring for fellow creatures; venturing into the unknown yet being fully accountable for one’s doings.
The prominent role of modern science in society has made it necessary for scientists as individuals to adopt a self-imposed code of conduct, and for organizations of scientists to take measures to implement it.
An ethical code of conduct for physicians has been in existence for nearly two and a half millennia, since the days of Hippocrates. In those days—and still today—the life of the patient was literally in the hands of the doctor, and it was essential to ensure that the doctor would wield his power responsibly, the care of the patient being his foremost duty. Hence the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors when they qualify.
Nowadays, scientists can be said to have acquired a somewhat similar role in relation to humanity. The time has thus come for some kind of Hippocratic Oath to be formulated and adopted by scientists. A solemn oath, or pledge, taken when receiving a degree in science, would, at the least, have an important symbolic value, but might also generate awareness and stimulate thinking on the wider issues among young scientists.
Various professional groups have proposed different formulations for oaths or pledges, to suit specific desiderata. For young scientists, and if to be taken on graduation, the text of the pledge adopted by the US Student Pugwash Group seems to me highly suitable. The Pledge reads:
“I promise to work for a better world, where science and technology are used in socially responsible ways. I will not use my education for any purpose intended to harm human beings or the environment. Throughout my career, I will consider the ethical implications of my work before I take action. While the demands placed upon me may be great, I sign this declaration because I recognize that individual responsibility is the first step on the path to peace.”
Apart from the individual expression by scientists of their social responsibility, there is a need for organizations of scientists to articulate this collectively. In the first instance, the national academies of sciences (or corresponding bodies in countries where there are no academies), which usually are the highest authorities on scientific matters, should explicitly include ethical issues in their terms of reference. The charters of some academies already contain clauses that allow them to be concerned with the social impact of scientific research. But I would like to see those clauses made mandatory: there should be explicit statements that ethical issues are an integral part of the work of scientists.
A specific task for the academies should be the setting up of ethical committees to review research projects—another practice to be borrowed from medicine. In many countries, a research project that involves patients has to be approved by the ethical committee of the hospital, to ensure that the investigation will not put the patient’s health and welfare to a significant risk. This practice should be extended to research work in general, but in the first instance, perhaps, to genetic engineering, an area of research that has a direct bearing on the health of the population.
I suggest that ethical committees, composed of eminent scientists from different disciplines, should be set up for the task of examining potentially harmful long-term effects of proposed research projects. The ethical committees should work under the aegis of the national academy of sciences in the country, but it would be essential for the criteria used in the assessment of projects to be agreed internationally by academies of sciences, so that the same standards are applied everywhere.
I believe that these proposals, if accepted by the scientific community and backed by public opinion, would go some way towards reducing the adverse effects of science, without diminishing its beneficial potential.
On many issues of public concern, non-governmental organizations play an ever-increasing role. Academies of science often are formally or indirectly part of the governmental establishment and this limits their freedom of action. There is, therefore, also a need for completely independent organizations of scientists to be concerned with the ethical issues arising from scientific research and its applications, functioning in a way that is complementary to the activities of the academies.
Many such organizations are in existence. Among those familiar to me I would mention the Federation of American Scientists, the Forum on Physics and Society of the American Physical Society, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Scientists for Global Responsibility. Above all, our own, the Pugwash Movement, often described as the social conscience of scientists, has a good track record; this applies both to the seniors and the student Pugwash organizations, particularly the Student Pugwash Group in the United States.
I spoke earlier about the code of conduct for scientists. This applies, of course, to Pugwashites, but I believe that something more is expected from them. I talked about this on another occasion, in an address to a Pugwash Conference.
We are a bunch of individuals, engaged in scientific work, or in preparing for a scientific career. What links us is that we all have a social conscience; but, in addition, we want, through our activities, to set an example to other scientists. In calling on others to heed their social conscience, we must take care that we are doing it in a responsible way. Pugwash should always be avant-garde, not afraid of being unconventional; we should have vision, imagination, originality. But we should not become divorced from reality. We should be modernizers but also moderate; pioneers but also pragmatic; radical but also realistic. Our work should be a combination of idealism and practicality. We should have long-view objectives but not neglect short-term measures. Expressed colloquially, what we want is to be able to hold our heads high, above the clouds, but at the same time keep our feet firmly on the ground. And this, of course, is not at all easy.
Pugwash desires to be progressive, to foster new ways of thinking and encourage pioneering ideas. This may bring us into conflict with the establishment; make us non-conformists, radicals, dissidents. Dissidence can be said to be part of our ethical code.
Bertrand Russell, the great dissident of this century, has said: “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, because every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” We cannot be bystanders when the establishment behaves in a hypocritical manner. We cannot but protest against the manipulation or suppression of facts, particularly in areas in which we have expert knowledge. Our protests can often take the form of “whistle-blowing”; bringing to the notice of the public attempts by governments, or industrial firms, to mislead by giving false information, or by concealing misconduct.
But in this too, things are not always simple. What are the criteria that determine whether an act of whistle-blowing is responsible or foolhardy? What is the difference between an idealist and a crank?
The judgement of where the balance lies is highly subjective, and is influenced by many factors. This explains why even in Pugwash, where we all share the same ultimate objective, there are considerable differences of opinion about the ways to achieve it. Some believe that we should speak out in public when a threat to world security appears. Others feel that by being more circumspect we will have more credibility among decision-makers and thus be able to influence them in the right direction. For the same reason, some people stay in government posts even if they disagree with official policy. In Pugwash we have former ministers, past scientific advisers to government, retired generals, ex-ambassadors. They feel free to express their real view only after retirement. On the whole, they have probably done more good by staying in their posts than by resigning in protest and being replaced by hawks.
These observations, a sort of an addendum to the code of conduct for scientists, apply both to senior and to student Pugwashites, although the roles of the two groups differ in some respects. The seniors are often in a position to talk directly to decision-makers and thus facilitate the implementation of our objectives. On the other hand, the students in Pugwash have opportunities to influence the new recruits to science, a most important task since our future depends on the responsible attitude of the young generation. SPUSA is doing a magnificent job, through its many chapters, in providing advice about careers. It is vital to make students think on ethical issues and social responsibilities, so that they will not be lured by siren calls of rapid advancement and unlimited opportunities.
The SPUSA Pledge is highly relevant to this. I hope that the campaign to promote its application—and to persuade more universities to incorporate it as part of the degree ceremonies—will be pursued with even more vigour. The campaign would be helped if universities could be persuaded to run courses of lectures on the ethical aspects of science in undergraduate curricula. In this connection I would like to see SPUSA taking on yet another task, a task that would be a reversal of tradition, namely, students educating the teachers. There are still members of science faculties who do not see any necessity for scientists to be concerned about the social impact of science; indeed there are some who are actively opposed to such ideas and discourage their students from becoming involved in these issues. SPUSA might have a go at persuading them to change their attitudes, by arranging discussion meetings with those teachers. It would be a worthy exercise. To quote George Bernard Shaw again: “It’s all that the young can do for the old, to shock them and keep them up do date.”
Referring back to the differences between the natural and social sciences, Pugwash—young and senior—has played a significant role in narrowing the gap, by providing an opportunity for both groups to meet and discuss problems of mutual concern.
When Pugwash began, the participants in the Pugwash Conferences were mainly physicists, some of whom had worked on the Manhattan Project: in those days the technical aspects of nuclear weapons and the effects of nuclear warfare figured prominently on the agenda. But gradually, with the debate becoming focused on arms control measures, social scientists were brought in in increasing numbers so that nowadays their participation exceeds that from the natural sciences.
This change also reflects the radical change in the political climate. When Pugwash came into being, at the height of the Cold War, its outstanding feature was the provision of a channel of communication between scientists from both sides of the iron curtain. At that time there were hardly any such channels in existence; now there are plenty. Nowadays, the noteworthy feature of Pugwash is that it provides a forum for collaboration between social and natural scientists, while retaining the methodology of the natural sciences.
Since the end of the Cold War Pugwash has concentrated its efforts on the elimination of nuclear weapons, because their very existence is a threat to mankind. As long as nuclear weapons are deemed to be a vital element of national security, sooner or later they will be used, and once used there is danger of escalation, with the dire consequences that I have described. We have to keep on drawing attention to this danger, until we convince the decision makers of the logic of our arguments. I believe that the combined intellectual power of the natural and social scientists will prevail. But the elimination of nuclear weapons is only part of our goals. These weapons cannot be disinvented: we cannot erase from our memories the knowledge of how to make them. We will have therefore to go on to achieve the main objective, the creation of a war-free world. This should be our clear goal at the start of the 21st century.
The establishment of a war-free world would enable science to remove the temporary restrictions, and to resume in full its roles of advancing the frontiers of knowledge and bring further benefits to people and society.
What these further benefits will be we do not know. By the very nature of scientific research, its long-term outcome is unpredictable. But on the basis of past performance, we can be sure that the benefits will be immense. And if scientists fully accept their social obligations, if they include ethics into their paradigms, and take steps to ensure that their work does not lead to harm to human beings or the environment, then the outlook for humanity in the new millennium is very good, not only for survival but for a peaceful, equitable and prosperous world.
In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, scientists issued the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. It concluded with the grim warning:
“There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings, to human beings: remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot there lies before you the risk of universal death.”
Now, at the end of this violent century, the risk of universal death is still with us, but the chance of avoiding it is much better, and the prospect of a new Paradise shines brighter.
To ensure this always keep in your mind the plea of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto: “Remember your humanity.”