Rapid development can't guarantee a peaceful world

Bangkok Post, Home - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Rapid advances in sciences which promise better health and life cannot guarantee a peaceful world, whose 'future is greatly threatened', says the 1985 Nobel laureate for chemistry. In an hour-long speech at Chulalongkorn University yesterday, American scientist Jerome Karle said, "The future is more and more threatened with a deterioration of the quality of life and the proliferation of social inequities."

Mr. Karle, who was awarded the honour for his work in crystal structure analysis, said various factors, including degraded environment and struggling competition in economies, have contributed to the threat.

He urged scientists, governments and people to take serious corrective action.

Polluted air, waterways and oceans, ravaged lands and deforestation were so evident that they are "by now either common experience or common knowledge".

Meanwhile, economic competition due to limited resources and markets could lead to warfare, which he believed would be predominated by economic motivation.

But Mr. Karle disagreed with the notion that the sciences had, in many cases, contributed to violence as seen through the use of highly destructive weapons.

He said scientific knowledge alone did not bring about problems, but that it was man who used it in the wrong way.

He said scientists could help make a better society by educating people of the many hazards to the environment such as global warming.

Mr. Karle was among 22 Nobel Laureates who have been invited to lecture here on the theme "Bridges Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace".

The event, which has been held for the past two years, is co-organised by the International Peace Foundation, Kasikorn Bank and Chulalongkorn University.

Ranjana Wangvipula