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The author is professor of biology, University of California, Santa Barbara.
This article is based on a presidential address presented before the meeting of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at Utah State University, Logan, 25 June 1968.
At the end of a thoughtful article on the future of nuclear war, Wiesner and York (1) concluded that: "Both sides in the arms race are ...
confronted by the dilemma of steadily increasing military power and steadily decreasing national security.
If the great powers continue to look for solutions in the area of science and technology only, the result will be to worsen the situation." I would like to focus your attention not on the subject of the article (national security in a nuclear world) but on the kind of conclusion they reached, namely that there is no technical solution to the problem.
An implicit and almost universal assumption of discussions published in professional and semipopular scientific journals is that the problem under discussion has a technical solution.
This is what most adults do.) The class of "No technical solution problems" has members.My thesis is that the "population problem," as conventionally conceived, is a member of this class.How it is conventionally conceived needs some comment.Because of previous failures in prophecy, it takes courage to assert that a desired technical solution is not possible.Wiesner and York exhibited this courage; publishing in a science journal, they insisted that the solution to the problem was not to be found in the natural sciences. ." Whether they were right or not is not the concern of the present article.