GiIbert F. White
to analyze the possible impact of nuclear war. Have you been involved in any
A: Yes. I was president of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the
Environment for six years and active in its founding in 1969. This is under
the International Council of Scientific Unions and it's made up of
representatives from 36 national academies of science and about 15
international scientific unions. It functions by selecting a few problems on
which it organizes international collaboration among scientists in the
environmental field. The problems must be, one, of large international
significance, two, interdisciplinary (if they weren't interdisciplinary they'd be
handled by a particular union), and, three, ones for which we can recruit first-
rate scientific personnel. We've never had a problem getting money. If we
could satisfy the other criteria we could get the money. SCOPE has made
pioneering examinations of environmental risk assessment, global
biogeochemical cycles, and ecotoxicology.
At our general assembly in Ottawa in 1982 we decided that we ought to look
into the environmental effects of nuclear war and, according y, organized a
study group. It took us a year to get it organized because we decided we
shouldn't do it unless we had both U.S. and Soviet participation. The Soviets
finally came in on it. Since then we have put together a report which will be
made public in Washington on the environmental consequences of nuclear
war. The first volume will be on atmospheric consequences, and the second
on biological, ecological, and agricultural consequences.
We explicitly are not trying to deal with the full human consequences of
nuclear war because the World Health Organization has a partial report on
that, and because it seemed a step beyond what is already a very speculative
kind of analysis. We've had more than 200 scientists working on it. People
from over 30 countries participated. We've followed a plan of holding
workshops in different countries so as to reach the scientists in those countries
but also to assure a global view of the problem. Our first planning meeting
was in London. The next was in the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.
Then a major workshop in New Delhi, another in Leningrad, one in Paris.
This year we've had workshops in Hiroshima, Tokyo, Toronto, Melbourne,
Q: Have you attended all of these workshops?