Holdren's Pugwash Nobel Acceptance Lecture

by Robert Sanders

John Holdren, vice chair of the Energy and Resources Group at Berkeley and Class of 1935 Professor of Energy, delivered one of two acceptance lectures for the Nobel Peace Prize at the Dec. 10 ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

The 1995 Peace Prize was split between the founder of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, physicist Joseph Rotblat, and the organization itself. Rotblat delivered one lecture, while Holdren, who has chaired the executive committee of the Pugwash organization since 1987, delivered a second.

The Pugwash organization dates back to the late 1950s when scientists responded to a "manifesto" issued by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein to "assemble in conference to appraise the perils that have arisen as a result of the development of weapons of mass destruction." From that beginning evolved a continuing series of meetings at locations all over the world. To date, there have been more than 200 Pugwash conferences, symposia and workshops with a total attendance of more than 10,000.

The Nobel Committee announced its decision on Oct. 13, applauding Pugwash for its work and highlighting the need for world leaders to intensify their efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Holdren said that the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize award gives the Pugwash Conferences "the highest form of recognition for the efforts, on behalf of arms reductions and peace building, of all of the thousands of scientists and public figures from more than 100 countries, who have taken part in Pugwash activities since the first meeting in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, nearly 40 years ago."

Emphasizing the difficult problems of nuclear weaponry and international conflict that remain to be solved, he went on to say that "all of us regard this prize less as a reward for past efforts on behalf of peace than as encouragement and reinforcement for the continuing efforts that are still required--from the Pugwash Conferences, from the many other non-governmental organizations committed to building peace and international cooperation, from governments and, indeed, from every individual who cares about the future of our civilization.

"Those who complacently believe that the danger of nuclear destruction is now completely under control have simply not surveyed the new landscape of insecurity that the post-Cold War dawn has revealed," Holdren said.

He listed six specific security issues commanding the world's attention in the years ahead:

* Reducing the dangers from the thousands of nuclear weapons still deployed;

* Avoiding stagnation and reversal of recent arms-reduction efforts;

* Preventing further proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

* Accelerating the dismantling of surplus nuclear and chemical weapons and the disposal of their active ingredients;

* Strengthening international mechanisms for abating regional conflicts;

* Addressing global problems of environment and development, which he said are closely linked to international security.

Holdren argued that not even the richest nations would be able to escape the consequences if global problems of development and environment are not solved.

"We live under one atmosphere, on the shores of one ocean, our countries linked by flows of people, money, goods, weapons, drugs, diseases and ideas," he said. "Either we will achieve an environmentally sustainable prosperity for all, in a world where weapons of mass destruction have disappeared or become irrelevant, or we will all suffer from the chaos, conflict and destruction resulting from the failure to achieve this."

Holdren's Nobel Lecture, entitled "Arms Control and Peace Building in the Post-Cold War World," was approved by the organization's executive committee as a statement on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences.

Holdren was appointed the first professor of the Energy and Resources Group in 1973. He has been a leader in the multidisciplinary study of international security and global environmental problems since the early '70s. His 1971 book "Energy" foreshadowed the subsequent evolution of today's energy debate. His teaching and research have focused on energy technology and policy, risk assessment, global environmental problems and links among resources, development, environment and security.

Holdren also chairs the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy Sciences and is a member of the President's Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
Comments? E-mail berkeleyan@pa.urel.berkeley.edu.