|ISSUE 55 SUMMER 2007
|militarism and science|
- conscience in cold storage
military science marginalises environmental programmes
SGR's briefing argues that government policies, which emphasise the application of military technology in dealing with complex international crises, are driving the continued expansion of military R&D in the USA, UK and elsewhere, despite obvious major shortcomings of such an approach - not least in current conflicts such as the Iraq war.
The briefing documents how government funding for military R&D dwarfs that spent on social and environmental programmes across the industrialised world. For example, in 2004, governments in industrialised countries spent a total of $85 billion on military R&D, but only $50 billion on R&D for health and environmental protection, and less than $1 billion on R&D for renewable energy technologies essential for tackling climate change. A similar imbalance can be seen in UK spending.
Dr Chris Langley, lead author of the briefing, said: "This briefing updates our earlier research which highlighted the way that the UK military sector - including government departments and major corporations - has disproportionate influence over science and technology. That this military influence is being extended is all the more disturbing in the light of ongoing corruption investigations into top UK arms corporation, BAE Systems."
Dr Stuart Parkinson, Director of SGR and co-author of the briefing, said: ‘Gordon Brown, in his recent speech at the UN, said that we should put science and technology at the heart of efforts to tackle social and environmental problems. Yet, it is clear that current UK science policy allows the military far too much influence in the sector, undermining that aspiration. We urge Mr Brown to put his money where his mouth is and force a shift in current R&D spending to prioritise social and environmental concerns.’
Dr Philip Webber, Chair of SGR and co-author of the briefing, said ‘In David Milliband's first speech as Foreign Secretary he talked about the need for changes in the way that the UK engages in the international arena. But can the government really be serious about changing its approach to foreign policy while pursuing major new military technology projects, such as replacing its nuclear weapons system and building new aircraft carriers, at a time when science and technology skills are so urgently needed in areas such as renewable energy?’