Nuclear Winter transmittal letter

This really belongs with the post but I only just located it.


DATE: May 8, 1986

Chemistry Division


The enclosed document, NUCLEAR WINTER: THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF HUMAN SURVIVAL, may be of interest to you as a professional in [public communication] [or public policy] . These proceedings result from an invited session of the American Anthropological Association annual meetings held in Washington, DC, December 6, 1985. The scientific session was an interdisciplinary discussion among senior anthropologists, a physical scientist involved in global climate modelling, and myself of the contributions anthropology can make to the scientific discussion of the long-term consequences of nuclear war.

Current scientific discussions of the long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war only partially evaluate the impact on human existence and continuity. Anthropologists are generally not participants in the institutional communities or other sciences which provide the scientific and technical advice on issues of national defense. Anthropology can contribute its expertise concerning the cultural and biological adaptability of humans and the comprehensive nature and evolution of human existence.

An audience of approximately 100 anthropologists and others participated in the discussions. This session is the first and remains the only discussion of Nuclear Winter to focus explicitly on impacts to humans. Other discussions have focused on the non-human environment or on limited aspects of human society which can result in misleading or inaccurate conclusions about effects on human biological and cultural systems.

Discussion also ranged over whether such matters should be discussed at all, the roles of science and policy in contemporary US society, the nature of uncertainty, the need for anthropological models of nuclear winter comparable to the physical models, and the value of anthropological assessment and input to discussions of nuclear war.

We consider our discussions beginnings, not conclusions, to an anthropological assessment of Nuclear Winter. There are as yet no formal, integrative studies of the long-term consequences of Nuclear Winter for humans by public or private agencies.

If you wish further information on this topic, please contact the authors.


M. Pamela Bumsted

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