Cover image for Reason enough to hope : America and the world of the twenty-first century
Reason enough to hope : America and the world of the twenty-first century
Morrison, Philip.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xv, 210 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
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JZ5675 .M67 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Two eminent scientists offer a global approach to issues of security and development.

In this "blue-sky" effort to rethink humanity's basic challenges, Philip Morrison and Kosta Tsipis--both eminent scientists with deep expertise in arms control issues--sketch the broad outlines for a global approach to the problems of security and development. Their goal is to set priorities for feasible action, and their focus is threefold: war and particularly the continuing dangers of nuclear weapons, population and the promotion of increased levels of human well-being, and the threat of environmental degradation.Although their topics are global, the authors focus on the actions of the United States. In their discussion of nuclear options, for example, they argue that reducing American military expenditures can be a catalyst for lowering the world's nuclear risk, establishing a policy of "common security" in response to conventional war, and freeing resources that will allow substantial steps toward "common development." In their discussion of human needs, the authors emphasize the fact that the rate of annual growth in the world's population peaked between 1967 and 1970 and has declined steadily ever since; we can therefore now project what the near steady-state level might be. This topping off of population growth should give us a new baseline from which to address both development and environmental issues.

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Booklist Review

Jerome Wiesner (JFK's science advisor, MIT president in the '70s) inspired this book and collaborated on it until his death in 1994. Retired MIT physicists Morrison and Tsipis continued the project, analyzing "what is possible within the broad objective constraints that delimit our options." The new century will be deeply affected, they argue, by "the near-coincidence of two major end points in human history . . . the invention and recent retreat of nuclear weapons, and the start of a steady decline in the rate of increase of the global population." To address this new situation's major perils (large-scale nuclear war; "the unmet daily needs of billions of people"; and global environmental degradation), Morrison and Tsipis sketch international approaches they dub Common Security and Common Development that would reduce total military expenditures and improve living standards in less-developed countries. Focusing on broad trends rather than year-to-year political battles, the authors offer a hopeful case that nations can learn to cope with the next century's challenges. --Mary Carroll