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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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Politics and Policy

Politics and Policy

(p.287) 20 Politics and Policy
A Nuclear Winter's Tale

Lawrence Badash

The MIT Press

In March 1986, the General Accounting Office submitted a report to Congress detailing the technical uncertainties surrounding the long-term effects of nuclear war. Titled “Nuclear winter: Uncertainties surround the long-term effects of nuclear war,” the report was drafted by a committee headed by Alan Hecht of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and comprised of several scientists. The GAO report was reviewed by other government agencies involved with nuclear winter, including the Defense Nuclear Agency. In May 1986, the Department of Defense issued its own report to Congress. Five years later, nuclear winter theory gave way to experiment when most of Kuwait’s 1,250 oil wells were torched in the wake of the Persian Gulf War. This chapter examines the politics and policy issues surrounding the nuclear winter debate.

Keywords:   nuclear winter, General Accounting Office, Congress, Department of Defense, Kuwait, oil wells, nuclear war, Alan Hecht, policy issues

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