Holdren Chairs Group That Shares in Peace Prize

by Jacqueline Frost

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has a strong campus connection. The Nobel Committee on Oct. 13 awarded the prize to the Pugwash Conferences on Sciences and World Affairs and its founder, British physicist Joseph Rotblat.

Berkeley Professor John Holdren is chair of the group's executive committee.

The Nobel committee commended the group's "efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms."

"It may be hoped that the award will also serve as a reminder that the work to reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons is not finished, in a broader sense than just the matter of nuclear testing," said Holdren, who will take part in the Nobel ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10.

"Too many people believe that the end of the Cold War has meant the end of the nuclear threat.

"But there are still tens of thousands of nuclear weapons in the world," said Holdren, an international expert and adviser on energy policy and the environment.

He serves on President Clinton's Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology.

At Berkeley, Holdren is the Class of 1935 Professor of Energy and chair of Berkeley's campuswide interdisciplinary graduate program in energy and resources.

He first participated in the Pugwash Conferences in 1973 and has served as chair of the group's executive committee since 1987.

He has also chaired or co-chaired the U.S. Pugwash Committee, based at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass.

"Although the danger of a global nuclear conflagration has certainly diminished sharply with the passing of the Cold War, the danger has increased that nuclear weapons will come into the possession of individuals less restrained about their use than the leaders who have had control over them until now," said Holdren.

The international group of scientists, scholars and public officials held its first conference in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, in 1957.

The most recent meeting took place last year in Hiroshima in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of that city.

Operating outside official circles, members of the group attended the annual conference as individuals--not representatives of their governments or institutions.

This private forum allowed for greater candor and flexibility among participants during the heightened tensions of the Cold War.

"The award of the Nobel Peace Prize will be a significant boost to the Pugwash organization as it continues its efforts to shrink the role played by nuclear weapons in world affairs, as well as its efforts related to chemical, biological and conventional weaponry, conflict prevention and other aspects of international security," said Holdren.

Holdren, the author of some 275 articles and reports, is also a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, faculty consultant at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chair of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences among numerous other professional and academic activities.


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