By Andreas Toupadakis, PhD
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
“Science is a good piece of furniture for a man to have in an upper chamber, provided he has common sense on the ground floor.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
While millions of people around the world are fighting increased battles with cancer in physical and emotional pain, science is still being glorified for scientific progress. It is no secret that in hundreds of thousands of lives around the world every day, there is a lot of indignation and despair because of what the wrong practice of science has done to people.
The truth is that humanity will very soon have to ask itself the following question, if it is not already too late: Can it be that by trying to improve and lengthen our lives without being in harmony with natural laws, we are not only losing our lives but also our earth?
The human race has only one or perhaps two generations to rescue itself, according to the “2003 State of the World” report by the Washington-based World Watch Institute. According to the report “… Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 370.9 parts per million, the highest level for 420,000 years and probably for 20m years. Toxic chemicals are being released in increasing quantities, and global production of hazardous waste has reached more than 300m tones a year. There is only a vague idea of what damage this does to humans and natural systems.”
The report also says, “Bird extinctions are running at some 50 times the natural rate due to habitat loss and other consequences of human activity. Each day 5,500 children die from diseases linked to polluted food, air, and water, and the global rate of ice melt has more than doubled since 1988.” And these trends have only increased since this report was first published.
Michael N. Nagler, Professor Emeritus of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley correctly states in his new book Is There No Other Way? that “Science has every right to confine its attention to the physical, i.e. the outside world. It has no right to say, when it has done so, that it has given us the whole story.”
It is almost impossible to convince the unaware citizen of the violence of science. The late Anthony Standen puts it this way:
“Science has achieved so many things, and has been right so many times, that it is hard to believe that it can be wrong in anything, particularly for a layman, who does not have enough knowledge of the subject to be able to argue back.”
The magnitude of death that the wrong practice of science has brought on all of us is unbelievable. Silent Spring, the forty-year-old classic book in the environmental field by Rachel Carson, gave us a glimpse of the crime of science. It exposes the thoughtlessness of public institutions in spraying deadly chemicals like DDT on millions of acres of agricultural land. Also “Trade Secrets, a Moyer’s Report” on PBS revealed an unbelievable story involving many large American and European chemical industries. The following is from that report:
“The chemical industry long kept secret vital information about the potential health effects of some of its manufacturing processes and some of its products. When challenged by citizens’ initiatives to reveal those secrets, it mounted extensive – and expensive – campaigns to defeat them.”
Whether the propellants or other ingredients in products we use today are safe or not is simply unknown. In some cases consumers cannot even find out what the ingredients are because they are considered trade secrets. The chemical industry contributes millions of dollars to help elect senators, congressmen, and presidents.
Could it be possible that science as a total has done more harm than good? People are burying their loved ones at an unbelievable rate, but they fail to understand why this is happening. What is the terrible truth? Scientists today have created powerful drugs to heal cancer, for example, but we know by the number of funerals in our communities that the success rate is not very high. They never mention to people what else they are producing at the same time they are making these drugs. They do not admit, thus they cannot explain that during the process of making the drugs, they also unavoidably produce deadly pollution. It is ironic that while human beings try to save their lives, they are further endangering their own families and even themselves by doing so. In other words, even if the sick person is healed, there is a high probability that he will again become sick from some other disease because of the pollution created while the pharmaceutical industry was making the medicine.
Science claims that research is done out of concern for humanity’s needs and pain. Is this true? The citizens never asked for most of the materials that industry has produced. It is no secret that the chemical industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world, assisting other industries like the medical industry to gain astronomical profits out of the pain of the unfortunate people. In our industrial age, many large wars are fought for oil because for the most part, oil is the starting material of the chemical industry.
It is a well kept secret in the scientific community that no one knows how the body reacts to the hundreds of thousands of new chemicals that scientists have created, which never existed before in our environment. We know that there are chemicals, whether natural or man-made, that are deadly in a very small concentration. When we take medicine into our body, do we know what happens when it combines with so many other new chemicals in our food, water and air? There is an infinite number of combinations that can occur. All these chemicals can create new compounds in our bodies, and no one can ever know their effect on our health. All these facts are never mentioned.
The truth is that herbal medicine served the native people of every culture of the earth for thousands of years for FREE. When man started to make his own medicine with profit in mind, people started to die because of new diseases. Is there no other way? Greed and fear become barriers to our imagination in finding ways to use science without hurting nature, and ourselves.
Eminent scientists have the impudence to give lectures with titles like, “Biodiversity is threatened” when at the same time their very work is what threatens biodiversity. They will not admit their contradiction.
Life on our planet is threatened with extinction, not by the work of the farmers, shepherds, or the fishermen, the house builders or the clothes makers, but by the work of those who practice science for great profits, power, and prestige. How can we protect biodiversity when at the same time we are destroying it? This question needs an answer for the sake of our loved ones who are dying every day by the millions because of the unethical practice of science and technology.
Militarism has exploited science and many times scientists are the pillars of great deceptions. Fortunately, scientists of conscience have several times exposed the scientists of deception. In his commentary titled, “Media Are Sadly Misguided in Missile-Defense Tests,” in the Aug. 26, 2001 issue of The New York Times, Thomas A. Halsted writes:
“For years, the Pentagon and its Ballistic Missile Defense Organization have engaged in a continuing effort to delude the public and Congress into believing the United States is well on its way to developing a workable defense against ballistic missiles.”
MIT scientist-professor Ted Postol spoke about this fraud on the CBS program “60 MINUTES II” in an interview, saying:
“When I talk fraud, I’m being careful about the use of the word. I’m not saying there are people who have made a mistake, and I disagree with them. . . . I’m saying that there are people who know that this system will not work and are trying to cover it up. That’s what I’m saying here. So I am making a serious charge; I know that.”
Many of our scientists have reached a point of great immorality and absurdity. Large multinational corporations send their scientists to different countries to talk to the native people about medicinal herbs. They take that information back to their labs and make the same or similar chemicals to the ones in these plants. Then they patent those drugs in order to gather astronomical profits by selling them to the people of the world who are in pain. They even have the audacity to buy the politicians to make laws so that the native population does not have the right to use and grow these same plants which they had been growing for thousands of years.
Furthermore, scientists have created seeds that cannot reproduce themselves, and all this in the name of profit, under the pretext of serving humanity. Not many scientists would criticize this evil because most of them depend on a corporate paycheck. Science could benefit humanity only if it were practiced for serving others, not when it is practiced in secrecy and for profit and prestige.
As Gandhi said, “Science without humanity is a blunder that leads to violence.”
The Responsibility of Scientists for the Survival of the Human Species
The following is from a speech given by Andreas Toupadakis at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in New York, May 3rd, 2000.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my fellow Earth Companions,
From nearly every nation of the world we have gathered here for a single reason. Many of us have realized that the human species has become an endangered species. We are running out of time. What should each one of us do? How many more times will we be able to gather here together to reassess the progress we have made towards peace?
More than 55 years ago a physicist, Sir Joseph Rotblat, a member of the Manhattan Project, faced the same question, ‘What should I do?’ The project he was working on was intended to build something new, never invented before, and it would be so powerful that it would be able to bring about unthinkable destruction and suffering. The instant killing of about 200,000 innocent people and the suffering of even more to this day, had not taken place yet. But the question kept coming back to him. What should I do?
Today we know that he resigned, and he was not a part of the slaughtering and suffering of the subsequent mass murder. For his act and his tireless work for peace, he was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. He is the only survivor of the eleven signatories of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955. Its words are well worth recalling today:
“We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death. The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, has not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. People can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly.”
There are a number of people worldwide who have followed Dr. Rotblat’s example since 1945. Some are well known, but there are probably many more whose names we’ll never know. Two of the better-known examples are Dr. Theodore Taylor from the USA and Dr. Lev Feoktistov from Russia, former leading nuclear weapons designers from Cold War enemy nations who recognized the potentially disastrous consequences of their occupations, and who now devote their energies to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
At the dawn of the new millennium, I myself faced the same question, as a member of what should be called the “Manhattan Project #2”. While many people were celebrating the dawn of the new millennium, I was going through the most agonizing time of my life. What should I do? I had a wife with a part time job with no insurance, and two children. What should I do?
I followed the highest call, the call of my conscience. I saw the omnicide which is about to be committed against all forms of life on our planet. On January 31st of this year , I resigned from a permanent, highly paid position in the Stockpile Stewardship Program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where I was working on the long-term maintenance of nuclear weapons. My act was an act of love for all humanity, all life.
Great thinkers of the past have commented on the meaning of life. “An unexamined life is not worth living”, said Socrates. Einstein the physicist said: “Only a life lived for
others is a life worth while”. Since my resignation I have been poor, but happy. We do not know how we will make ends meet, even with my wife and I teaching part time in four different colleges between us. But I believe that I have found my calling: to inform scientists and the public about the deceptive ways new scientists are lured into weapons work; to remind people that nuclear weapons are the perfect tool for humanity to commit suicide; and to call on each person to do his or her best to prevent that from happening.
My resignation has already created a great response. Many newspaper articles have appeared here and in Greece. Some articles even called me a hero. I’ve been interviewed on numerous radio shows, and have received invitations for speaking engagements across the country and around the world. Individuals I’ve never met have written to me from many nations to express their support and gratitude for my act. I believe that this excitement shows the aspiration of the human soul, which cries for peace despite the terrible plans of a few. Preparing for war in order to have peace is not the will of humanity.
Trusting in bombs instead of the Creator is not the will of the people. Preparing for peace in order to have peace is the will of humankind.
“Science without virtue is immoral science”, Plato said, yet, the scientists are at the heart of the new arms race. Therefore, I appeal to all scientists worldwide whose work supports the war machine to give up their jobs as I did, to follow my example. I also appeal to every secretary, technician, custodian, engineer, and any other person whose participation supports the world war machine. We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren. Every citizen must see to it that life will go on without unnecessary suffering. Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear scientist and prisoner of conscience, has warned us: “Stop the train. Get off the train. The next stop: nuclear disaster.”
Today I am appealing to you not as a scientist to scientists, but as a human being to human beings. Upon leaving this conference, I beg you to “remember your humanity and forget the rest”; to go back to the leaders of your countries and speak to them with determination and sacrifice. We have paid the price for war for too many years. Let us become willing to pay the price for peace.
Previous articles by Andreas Toupadakis:
- Glorifying Peace Instead of War
- Creating Your Future – Arise Great Warrior, Arise!
- Unifying The Global Peace Movement – Challenges and Solutions
- The Real Face of The Empire
- Science, Secrets and Corporate Slavery
- Crisis in Science: Scientists’ Responsibility for the Survival of the Human Species
- Awaken Students! Education is for Self-Awareness and Inner Growth
- Quitting the Nuclear Labs – a Scientist’s Plea for World Peace
- Civilization Is for Making Peace, Not War
- Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action
About the author:
Born on the beautiful island of Crete in Rethymno, Greece, Andreas Toupadakis received his B.S. in Chemistry from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki. He has lived in the U.S. since 1978, and received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1990. Following a career in industry, academia and two US Government laboratories, in 2001 Dr. Toupadakis resigned from a classified government position maintaining nuclear weaponry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to actively contribute to the peace movement.
Since 2005, Dr. Toupadakis has been teaching at UC Davis, including courses in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry for Life Sciences. A proponent of the Socratic dialogue method, he was the winner of the 7th annual ASUCD Excellence in Education Award as UC Davis’ educator of the year in 2009. He is also the author of three chemistry study guides, and teaches two popular freshman seminars at UC Davis every quarter: “From Self-Awareness to Personal Growth for True Success in and After College” and “World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-Discovery”.
Besides teaching chemistry at UC Davis, Dr. Toupadakis has taught chemistry at several other colleges and universities in the U.S. and in Greece, and has also given lectures and written articles on life planning through wise career choice, career change and career satisfaction, and sustainable living across campuses in the U.S., Greece, Japan and recently in India.
His personal website, TheLifeCurve.com, is devoted to student success during and after college. Dr. Toupadakis spends a great deal of his free time with his students at his organic garden plot, which is provided by the Experimental College Community Garden of UC Davis. He also encourages his students to have their own garden plots.