Union of Concerned Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is a nonprofit alliance of some fifty thousand scientists and citizens across the United States. The group's stated goal is to combine rigorous scientific analysis with committed citizen advocacy in order to build a cleaner environment and a safer world. The group focuses on issues such as global warming and the environmental impact of vehicles and various energy sources.
The UCS was formed in 1969 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where a number of faculty members and students banded together to protest what they saw as the abuse of science and technology for military purposes. The new group called for greater emphasis on the application of scientific research to solve social and environmental problems. In its early years, the organization issued statements urging an end to the nuclear arms race and a ban on space weapons research. In recent years, the group has focused more on environmental issues.
In 1992, seventeen hundred of the world's leading scientists, including many Nobel prize winners, issued an emotional appeal through the UCS. Their statement, titled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity," noted that "human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources." It urged the world community to take action by moving away from fossil fuels and giving high priority to more efficient use of natural resources such as water.
In 1997, the UCS issued another statement at the Kyoto Climate Summit in Japan. This statement, which addressed the threat of global warming, was signed by more than fifteen hundred scientists from sixty-three countries, including sixty U.S. National Medal of Science winners. UCS efforts helped set the stage for the adoption of an international treaty on climate change. Such joint appeals are influential, because they show world leaders that there is growing agreement among scientists on key issues.
In the United States, the UCS has been a force for social change as well. For example, in California, the UCS and other environmental and public health groups helped convince the state to begin requiring sport utility vehicles, light trucks, and diesel cars to meet the same tailpipe emissions standards as gasoline-powered cars. In Connecticut, the UCS and its allies helped persuade the legislature to pass a law that included strong support for clean, renewable energy sources. In short, the UCS continues to be a powerful voice for concerned scientists and citizens.
Brown, Michael, and Leon, Warren. (1999). The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices: Practical Advice from the Union of Concerned Scientists. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Union of Concerned Scientists. "World Scientists' Call for Action" and "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity." Available from http://www.ucsusa.org .
Linda Wasmer Andrews