The scientific consensus as settled on the pages of SCOPE-28 was a snapshot taken from a dynamic research process. Shortly after the second edition, the Cold War ended, and modeling the climatic response to massive smoke injections was terminated just when it had reached more firm grounds. The theme was picked up not before another recent revision using the GISS model. Questions like that of the 1975 NAS study on climate relaxation remain unanswered as yet. Summarizing the status of the smoke source term discussion in their last common paper, though, TTAPS had shown that figures which were finally used in the climate model studies of the 1980s remained in the vicinity of earlier assumptions - a consequence of mutually balancing changes in detail. It has been learnt, for example, that smoke consists of fractal aggregates which have little in common with the earlier picture of largely spherical objects. This reduces the rate at which their short-wave absorptivity decreases and prolongs the direct radiative forcing of climatic effects. The debate about nuclear 'winter' or 'fall' occupied the community but did not fundamentally change the perspective as well. A detailed study of atmospheric coastal flow fields did not even confirm a mitigating oceanic impact on the surface air temperature drop over land.
We do not mirror and discuss the points here that have been made with due justification concerning the political response to nuclear winter. Science itself is the addressee ofa disturbing question: Was there a potential to substantially influence public and strategic thinking by timely, deliberate inquiry? A 'doomsday potential' was inherent to nuclear deterrence since the 1960s, at the latest, and it may be questioned that the 'policy war' between MAD and NUT was predicated to end at the terms of the war-fighting strategists. Game theory was abused to justify NUT, risky nuclear weapons tests were conducted, and the Cuban missile crisis made humankind totter at the brink ofits ultimate catastrophe. Though lately a result of the arms race, MAD was a vulnerable and immoral posture. Remarkable activities of the 1960s notwithstanding, though, did nuclear deterrence and nuclear war become great themes for the general scientific community only during the 1980s. A largely unmonitored evolution toward 'wars of the twenty-first century' is likewise a risky habit. It has 'tradition' in military politics to occupy gray zones ofknowledge, and in scientific 'surveillance' to lag behind the arsenals and strategies of war.
Was this article helpful?