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A Nuclear Winter's TaleScience and Politics in the 1980s$
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Lawrence Badash

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012720

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012720.001.0001

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Inside the Beltway, 1984

Inside the Beltway, 1984

(p.125) 10 Inside the Beltway, 1984
A Nuclear Winter's Tale

Lawrence Badash

The MIT Press

During the summer of 1983, the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) responded to the possibility that nuclear winter might be a real phenomenon in a prompt and honest manner. Like other government agencies, the DNA could not avoid some political overtones. On behalf of the Department of Defense, it also had to reflect the administration’s view of the national interest at heart. Carl Sagan was criticized by those who disagreed with his liberal views on combating the nuclear arms race. While this was normal politics, the critics picked up and used the scientific issues under debate. The nuclear winter debate led to a flurry of congressional hearings before the Joint Economic Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Finance, and Security Economics. The hearings were conducted by Senator William Proxmire, vice chairman of the subcommittee.

Keywords:   nuclear winter, government agencies, Defense Nuclear Agency, William Proxmire, Carl Sagan, politics, congressional hearings, nuclear arms race

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