Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences condemned all atrocities against civilians and crimes against humanity and called for accountability and independent investigations into alleged war crimes in the world’s current conflicts.
“We are also calling for unrestricted humanitarian assistance, access to basic services for civilians and the lifting of sieges,” members said in a final statement.
“As scientists, we must not neglect the fundamental drivers of conflict and the role of science in the arms race,” they said, adding “that it is increasingly important for science to have peace as its goal.”
The statement, which was published on the Academy’s website, came after the Academy held its Sept. 8-10 plenary session on “Basic Science for Human Development, Peace and Planetary Health.” Dozens of experts—both academics and invited speakers—discussed how their specific area of expertise has contributed to “problem solving” and the advancement of human development, peace and health.
The final statement said: “The many ongoing armed conflicts, such as the Russian attack on Ukraine, the wars in Tigray/Ethiopia and Yemen and Syria, as well as many other armed conflicts within and between countries, cause us great concern because they cause great suffering for the civilian population, especially for women and children.”
Current “threats or actual attacks by powerful countries on their neighbors endanger the political order and human civilization,” the statement said. “At a time when science is so dominating culture, all scientific disciplines should consider their potential contribution to peace.”
Another concern, the academy members wrote, is the lack of “scientifically sound rational arguments” and the growing “scientific skepticism in sections of the general public, as well as in conventional and social media.”
The plenary session looked at some of the reasons for this neglect and the role that religion could play in fueling scientific skepticism or encouraging greater openness to science.
However, the Academy recognized that “there is also a well-informed, important skepticism about sometimes overlooked discrepancies between science, technology, and their impact on the real world” that can generate concern, distrust, or skepticism about science.
Academy members support adherence to “established ethics of science” and scientific discussion that is transparent and accessible to the general public, the statement said; Members were encouraged to “show how science is done and what can be achieved without neglecting the risks of misuse”.
Academy members called on public policy, society, and faith communities to recognize and “stronger support” the importance of basic science.
“Basic science always runs the risk of being marginalized when crises, wars and growing insecurity keep people busy and divert resources to deal with everyday problems, as is currently the case,” it said.
Scientific studies and advances can take decades, if not centuries, and supporting these efforts “requires continuity”.
At the same time, “science-based action on some of these challenges needs to be taken now,” it said.
But “huge payouts, which often come about in unpredictable ways,” are possible if science is supported, it said. An example “is the rapid development of the COVID vaccine thanks to developments in the decades-long studies of messenger RNA that were planned for very different purposes.”
“Curiosity-driven basic research needs to have a greater sense of urgency: we need more opportunities for curiosity among the younger generation, fostered by vibrant education systems that stimulate the imagination,” she said, emphasizing that many scientific advances are driven by curiosity and a become a sense of wonder, not some utilitarian goal.
The academy also said the resources needed to continue science and the fruits of its discoveries “need to be shared more equitably – particularly by the rich nations – with the low-income regions of the world.”
category: US and World News