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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, 1985

Inside the Beltway, 1985

(p.157) 12 Inside the Beltway, 1985
A Nuclear Winter's Tale

Lawrence Badash

The MIT Press

Through 1983 and well into 1984, research on nuclear winter was primarily financed by “discretionary” funds from various government agencies such as the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. As revealed by the private Natural Resources Defense Council, however, the government’s response to nuclear winter remained largely ad hoc. This prompted Congress to call for an organized response, which actually began in February 1984, when John Byrne and Alan Hecht, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and director of NOAA’s National Climate Project Office, respectively, received orders from George Keyworth, the presidential science advisor, to formulate a plan. The following year, the DoD released a report which emphasized the significant uncertainties in estimates of climatic responses to nuclear explosions. Congressional hearings were held to discuss the DoD report, first in the House in March 1985, then in the Senate in October 1985.

Keywords:   nuclear winter, research, Department of Defense, congressional hearings, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nuclear explosions, John Byrne, Alan Hecht, George Keyworth, Congress

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