News: AAAS News & Notes
24 September 2004
Science and Society
Óscar Arias: War Drains Natural and Development Resources
War and military spending are draining resources from efforts to fight poverty and restore the environment, former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Óscar Arias Sánchez said 7 September at AAAS. Two days later, his country's government asked to be removed from a U.S.-directed coalition seeking to disarm Iraq.
"Something is not economically right when a liter of water in this country costs as much as a liter of gasoline," Arias said during the Robert C. Barnard Environmental Lecture at AAAS. Even small steps toward demilitarization can improve quality of life as reduced military spending liberates resources for human development and environmental conservation, he said.
In 2002, for example, $800 billion, or 2.5% of the world's gross domestic product, was dedicated to military expenditures worldwide, the United Nations
Human Development Program reported. Only 5%, or $40 billion, would have been enough to pay for basic advances in education, health care, nutrition, water quality, and sanitation for the entire world, Arias said. "In other words," he said, "it would take only a modest shift in global priorities."
Arias witnessed demilitarization benefits firsthand in 1987, when five Central American presidents signed a peace accord calling for a disarmament policy with respect for national sovereignty. As a result, the United States withdrew funding for Contras in Costa Rica. Today, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency facilities are campsites and research stations, secret landing strips are reforested, and more than 2500 students annually learn biology in protected parks.
A world where millions endure extreme misery will never be secure, he said, and as people, diverse viewpoints, and cultures move rapidly around the globe, values must follow suit. He urged political leaders, especially those in the industrialized nations, to face challenges such as rising carbon-dioxide levels and to implement corrective policies based on sound science.
The Robert C. Barnard Lecture is delivered each year during orientation for AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows-scientists and engineers who serve a year in U.S. Executive Branch agencies. This year's lecture was timely: On 9 September, Costa Rica "sent a diplomatic note asking the United States to remove it from an Iraq 'coalition,' " the Associated Press reported. Endowed by the international law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, the Robert C. Barnard Environmental Lecture honors its namesake, counsel to the firm, for his contributions to environmental and public health law.
Neuroscience and the Law
Book Explores Legal Riddles
Fashion heir Maurizio Gucci was killed in 1995. His widow, Patrizia Reggiani, was sentenced to 26 years in jail. But the case was reopened 9 July after lawyers said new imaging techniques may reveal how tumor-related lesions in her brain drove her to murder. Did her brain make her do it? Such legal riddles are the focus of Neuroscience and the Law: Brain, Mind, and the Scales of Justice, a new book from AAAS and the Dana Foundation that raises questions about free will, cognitive enhancement, behavior prediction, and lie detection. Public interest in what brain science tells us about behavior is on the rise. On 9 September, book contributor Stephen J. Morse, University of Pennsylvania, spoke to the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics. Personal responsibility will likely always trump brain-related explanations of behavior, he said. To order, see www.aaas.org/spp/neuroscience. For a free summary, see www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/projects/neuroscience/Summary.pdf.
The next meeting of the AAAS Council will take place in the Delaware Ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel at 9:00 a.m., 20 February 2005. Individuals or organizations wishing to present proposals or resolutions for possible consideration by the Council should submit them in written form to the AAAS Chief Executive Officer, Alan Leshner, by 1 November 2004 to allow time for consideration by the Committee on Council Affairs at its fall meeting. Items should be consistent with AAAS’s objectives and be appropriate for consideration by the Council. Resolutions should be in the traditional format, beginning with “Whereas” statements and ending with “Therefore be it resolved.” Late proposals or resolutions delivered to the AAAS Chief Executive Officer before the February 2005 Open Hearing of the Committee on Council Affairs will be considered if they deal with urgent matters and are accompanied by a written explanation of the failure to comply with the November deadline. The Committee on Council Affairs will hold its open hearing at 2:30 p.m., 19 February 2004, in the Harding Room, Marriott Hotel.
Ballots for the 2004 election of the AAAS president-elect, Board of Directors, Committee on Nominations, and section officers were mailed to AAAS members who were active as of 13 August. Return your marked ballot by 15 November. Ballots postmarked later will not be counted. If you do not receive a ballot by mid-October, contact Linda McDaniel via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax, 202-371-9526.
AAAS members can nominate candidates (including themselves) for president-elect and the Board of Directors for election in fall 2005 for terms beginning February 2006. For a list of candidates, see the 25 June News and Notes column; for a list of current Board members, see the Science masthead. Please send nominees’ curricula vitae no later than 30 October to Gretchen Seiler, AAAS Executive Office, 1200 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20005. Nominations will be considered by the AAAS Committee on Nominations at its fall meeting.
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