Tag Archives | academic

Scientists for Global Responsibility- YES!

Scientists for global responsibility

How could one not be thrilled to find (via a message from activist and friend Linda Jansen) to find the UK- based group Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), whose priorities are so relevant to the needs of world citizens, and so on target with the protests going on all over the earth?

Here is a list of project categories from the website:

Corporate Influence on Science and Technology

Military Influence on Science and Technology

Nuclear Weapons Threat

Ethical Careers

Other projects- Population, Climate, Peace, etc.

What’s not to love?

There are currently about 900 members in SGR, and though the organization is UK centered, international members are welcome, according to Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director since 2003. Parkinson earned his bachelors’ degree in physics and engineering, but so many applications were military, with deep ethical implications, and he did his PhD work in climate change modeling. Even here there were ethical problems for Parkinson, as much funding for environmental work was from corporations, and their need to turn a profit was in conflict with preservation of the environment. SGR was a place where he could discuss these ethical issues with other scientists, something that unfortunately doesn’t occur in most scientific workplaces or training grounds.

To demonstrate the various pathways a scientist could choose to imbue life and work with ethical integrity, SGR put out a booklet, “Critical Paths: 12 inspiring cases of ethical careers in science and technology.”  The booklet can be downloaded as a pdf, or purchased as hard copy. Below is the list of scientists in the booklet, which the varied issues they’ve embedded in their life’s work. It would be great to have this booklet distributed in undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate programs, to be used for inspiration and discussion of options.

Critical paths


Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3

Elizabeth Martin………………………………………………………………………………………. 4

Discipline: geography
Issues: sustainable development; politics; corporations

Annie Brown……………………………………………………………………………………………. 6

Disciplines: mechanical and civil engineering
Issues: sustainable building; sustainable energy; corporations

Laurence Kenney …………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

Disciplines: mechanical engineering; biology Issues: the military; health

Dave Harper ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 10

Discipline: psychology
Issues: mental health; social justice; the military

Emily Heath …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 12

Disciplines: environmental and geo-sciences
Issues: environmental protection; politics; social justice

Caroline Smith…………………………………………………………………………………………. 14

Disciplines: chemistry; plant biology Issue: sustainable agriculture

Yacob Mulugetta……………………………………………………………………………………… 16

Disciplines: environmental sciences; environmental management Issues: international development; sustainable energy; corporations

Birgit Völlm ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 18

Discipline: medicine
Issues: animal experiments; health

Karl Brazier……………………………………………………………………………………………… 20

Disciplines: mathematics; IT; physics
Issues: the military; sustainable energy; social justice; corporations

Steve Dealler …………………………………………………………………………………………… 22

Discipline: microbiology Issues: food safety; politics

Wendy Maria Phelps………………………………………………………………………………… 24

Discipline: electrical engineering
Issues: the military; sustainable energy; social justice

Sue Mayer……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 26

Disciplines: biological and veterinary sciences Issues: the military; genetics; politics 










Biochemist Lynne Quarmby arrested at Burnaby Trans-Mountain pipeline

Q lab

Scientist and activist Lynne Quarmby mixes her research life (at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia) and her civic life straightforwardly, as shown on her website . A video of her labs’ work with Chlamydomonas is side by side with her Twitter posts (@LynneQuarmby) on the Burnaby protest against a tar sands pipeline. Quarmby, with dozens of other community members, was arrested today in the ongoing protests against the proposed Trans-Mountain pipeline from Calgary through Burnaby.

Kinder Morgan (KM), based in Texas, proposed a doubling of the oil sands pipeline that already runs under Burnaby, and wanted to test the feasibility of building a tunnel under the mountain.  Not only would this immediately disturb the local mountain environment, but the bigger picture- that the extraction of oil from tar sands and the burning of that oil contribute to carbon dioxide production and so, to global warming- was even more controversial. (This connection of government actions with the science of climate change is a message that Quarmby constantly communicated.) The announcement was met by protest by First Nations and other Burnaby citizens and then by a constitutional challenge by the town.

The National Energy Board (NEB) ruled the City of Burnaby couldn’t impede the project, and protests on Burnaby intensified after that October 24th decision.

Quarmby had been working with her community: marching, writing letters, contacting politicians, and protesting in the Burnaby park. She was, with others, arrested on October 25th.

On October 30, KM named 6 residents, including Quarmby, in a 5.6 million dollar lawsuit, saying that they were losing money every day of protest. Quarmby believes she was targeted because she was dangerous from a PR perspective as an outspoken professional willing to stand up and protest, not just about the pipeline, but about the link of the destruction on the mountain to climate change.

“”Maybe it’s because I’m reasonable and level and just speaking about the scientific realities of climate change,” she said . “I am writing and speaking at rallies, and maybe they feel like I’m starting to get people’s attention about this issue. They don’t want people to pay attention to climate change, that’s for sure.”

Quarmby and I were supposed to talk Thursday afternoon, but she asked if we could postpone the talk, as a call had gone out for supporters to come to Burnaby Mountain, where the police were arresting protesters in the park. Best reason to postpone I’ve ever heard!

And this morning, after a short and stirring speech, citizen and scientist Lynne Quarmby walked up the hill to the police line and was arrested again. She did not mince words before she left. She blamed Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the present conservative government of Canada for suspending environmental regulation in 2012. She linked the madness of expanding a pipeline in the face of the surety of climate change. She expressed her horror at the Canadian government for its dismissiveness to the First Peoples of the region, who were not even consulted about the pipeline project. She emphasized that the act of civil disobedience she was about to commit was the act of a citizen whose votes, testimonies, and data were ignored. Her three minute speech is a marvel of clear intention and love of community.

The court costs to face Kinder Morgan in the civil suit court are huge, and though Quarmby is prepared to lose her house, funds are being raised by two crowd-funding groups.

http://www.gofundme.com/gkxn9o  GoFund Me campaign

https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/legal-support-for-burnby-mountain-defenders  Legal support for Burnaby Mountain Defenders



Caucus at your professional organization meetings: Don’t waste a chance to build community

     In 2009 the American Public Health Association approved the policy statement, “The Role of Public Health Practitioners, Academics, and Advocates in Relation to Armed Conflict and War.” Despite the known health effects of war, the development of competencies to prevent war has received little attention. Public health’s ethical principles of practice prioritize addressing the fundamen- tal causes of disease and adverse health outcomes. A working group grew out of the American Public Health Association’s Peace Caucus to build upon the 2009 policy by proposing competencies to understand and prevent the political, economic, social, and cultural determinants of war, particularly militarism. The working group recommends that schools of public health and public health organizations incorporate these competencies into professional preparation programs, research, and advocacy. (Am J Public Health. 2014;104:e34–e47. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301778) 

       Within every organization there are specific interests that are shared among smaller groups at meetings. Make that official- or make it unofficial- but gather together to vote, to talk, to suggest resolutions that  guide the organization, to plan projects together.

     The Peace Caucus of the American Public Health Association has been advocating against war and its effect on public health for years. Their latest newsletter is posted below. From that group arose the Primary Prevention of War group, which believes that war, like disease, is best avoided than treated, and has suggested curricula that School of Public Health can use to teach the primary prevention of war (The Role of Public Health in the Prevention of War: Rationale and Competencies. Wrist et al, AJPH 2014:104, e34-e47- for a copy of the paper, email me at kbarkerbtb@gmail.com.)



Peace Caucus in Official Relations with the American Public Health Association


Newsletter • Fall 2014

Primary Prevention of War Group Needs Your Support !

The Public Health Working Group on Primary Prevention of War (PH-PPW) is growing in numbers – and is looking for your support! The group grew out of the APHA annual meeting in 2011, following a Peace Caucus session where
a paper was delivered documenting the general dearth
of coursework available on war and armed conflict within
Schools and Programs of Public Health (SPPHs). Based on a content analysis of curricular offerings of the top 20 SPPHs, the paper demonstrated that the narrow set of courses offered on war tend to be reactive, rather than advancing the concept of primary prevention. This tipped off the creation of this international, interdisciplinary Working Group of scholars and practitioners organizing to promote the primary prevention of war.

The PH-PPW Working Group meets every other month by conference call and has undertaken a number of activities, all aligned with APHA’s Policy Statement, The Role of Public Health Practitioners, Academics and Advocates in Relation to Armed Conflict and War (1). In 2013, the group published its findings on SPPH curriculum in Public Health Reports (2). In 2014, the group published a framework for public health prevention of war in AJPH, including a set of

continued on page 4


2014 Victor W. Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace

Recipient – Nancy Stoller, PhD

Please join us in honoring Dr. Stoller for her tremendous contribution to peace and health for all Tuesday 6:30 PM
APHA Public Health Awards Reception and Ceremony (Session

Film Festival: “Within the Eye of the Storm.” Monday at 6:30 and 8:30 PM

The Medical Care Section is sponsoring showings of “Within the Eye of the Storm” at 6:30 and 8:30 pm (session 3356.1) http://withineyeofstorm.com/. The film runs about 1 hour and tells the real-life story of two men – one Palestinian and one Israeli – each previously dedicated to fighting a faceless other, and each of whose daughters were killed in the conflict, who then committed to work to- gether to humanize the enemy and interrupt the vicious cycle of retaliation. Each showing of this inspiring film will be accompanied by a discussion to which the director, Shelley Hermon, has been invited. Check the program for the location.

Are you a member ?

Peace Caucus Program November 15 – 19, 2014 New Orleans, LA



10:30 AM — Exploring Social Justice Across Cultures and Professions
Jane Lipscomb, PhD, RN, Corey Shdaimah, PhD, Roni Strier, PhD, Susan Leviton, JD and Jody Olsen, PhD

10:45 AM — Voices Through Walls: How Walls Undermine Human Rights, Humanity, and Peace Steven Gilbert, PhD, DABT and Saherea Bleibleh, PhD

11:00 AM — Politics of Deteriorating Health in Palestine Dima Qato, PharmD, MPH, PhD

11:15 PM — Conflict, Peace, and Public Health in Syria: Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis Noah Gottschalk, Meredith Larson and Sarah Kalloch

11:30 AM — Academic researchers’ and publishers’ role in addressing health issues in Palestine Amy Hagopian, PhD, MPH

11:40 AM — Discussion

Endorsed by: LGBT Caucus of Public Health Professionals, Public Health Nursing, Socialist Caucus CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)


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12:30 -2:00 PM MCC, 220

12:30 PM — Health Care Access and Host-Refugee Relations in Uganda Joshua Rodd, MPH, MS, PhD (ABD)


12:42 PM — Afghan peace volunteers: Nonviolent resistance to war in Afghanistan Patrick Kennelly, MLS and Emily Malloy, RN, CNM

12:54 PM — From theory to practice: Public health practitioners, academics, and advocates in relation to armed conflict and war

Emily Malloy, RN, CNM, Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD and Ellen Kennelly, BS, RN, FNP 1:06 PM — Health pathway across all levels after the Gulf War

Charles W. Cange, PhD, MSc 1:18 PM — Using music to create peace

Barry S. Levy, MD, MPH and Victor W. Sidel, MD 1:30pm Discussion

Endorsed by: Public Health Nursing, Socialist Caucus CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

TUESDAY (4253.0) Distinguishing health study findings from public policy goals promotes peace, justice and health

12:30 -2:00 PM MCC, 223

Discussants: Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc. and David Tuller, DrPH


12:30 PM —Assessing the public health impacts of industrial farm animal production (IFAP) – Steve Wing, PhD
12:45 PM —Exposure to ionizing radiation from Fukushima: The collision of science and public policy – Robert Gould, MD 1:00pm — War, public health and institutional conflicts of interest – Shelley White, PhD, MPH and Wesley Epplin, MPH 1:15pm Discussion

Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Educa- tion Specialist (MCHES)

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Page 2 APHA Peace Caucus Fall 2014

Peace Caucus Program

Patrice Sutton, MPH and Eleni Tolma, PhD, MPH Program Planners

TUESDAY (4352.1) Integrating competencies for the prevention of war into public health curricula: Primary prevention of war work group roundtable

2:30 PM-4:00 PM Moderators: Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD and Neil Arya, MD MCC, 243

In 2009 the APHA adopted the policy “The Role of Public Health Practitioners, Academics, and Advocates in Relation to Armed conflict and War.” This was one of 35 related policies the APHA has adopted, including those advocating the banning of specific types of weapons, criticizing military budgets, and opposing military recruiting in public schools. Some of those policies, including the 2009 policy, have specifically recommended that schools of public health develop curricula on war and peace and prepare students to address the causes of war. However, research has shown that schools of public health include little about the prevention of war in their curricula. Therefore, in June of 2014 an article to initiate that curriculum development, written by the Working Group on the Primary Prevention of War, an outgrowth of the Peace Caucus of APHA, was published in the American Journal of Public Health. The article delineated 60 competencies in five domains (Militarism, International Peace Work, Peace Advocacy, and Peace Research) for use in developing courses, incorporation into existing courses and conducting workshops to prepare public health workers in the prevention of war. The Working Group disseminated information about the competencies to Deans of schools and programs of public health to help initiate adoption of the competencies and stimulate greater faculty involvement. In addition to the appendices to the AJPH article, the Working Group also has resources available on two Web sites to assist faculty in developing course content. Participants in this roundtable will discuss additional ways to foster the integration of the competencies into the public health education curriculum. Individuals from schools of medicine, nursing, allied health, and the behavioral and social sciences, in addition to faculty and students of schools and programs of public health, are encouraged to participate in the roundtable.

Session Objectives: To identify ways to foster the integration of the competencies about the prevention of war into the public health education curriculum.

Organized by: Peace Caucus Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus

TUESDAY (320.0) Peace Caucus Business MeetinG

6:00 – 7:00 PM MCC, 241

Please note: We will have a brief business meeting beginning at 6 PM and at 6:30 PM we will go to the APHA Awards ceremony in order to celebrate Nancy Stoller as the recipient of the Victor Sidel and Barry Levy Award for Peace.


10:30 PM-12:00 PM Ann Hirschman, RN-C, FNP, MPH, ModeratoR MCC, 223
10:30am Military events leading to the Christmas truce (July-December 1914): The start of a military revolution

Stephen Trynosky, JD, MPH, EMT, MMAS (cand.)
Lasting Legacy of War – Susan Schnall, RN, FACHE
Right to Heal – Maggie Martin, MA
11:06amCommunity Based Rehabilitation Model for Individuals with War-Related Disabilities: Could This Work in the United

States? – Carole Baraldi, Ed.D, RN 11:18amLegacy of War: What is it Good For?

Paul Cox, Civil Engineer, Vietnam Veteran, Board Chair Swords to Plowshares

Endorsed by: Public Health Nursing, Socialist Caucus CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

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Fall 2014 APHA Peace Caucus Page 3

2014 Health Activist Dinner! Sunday November 16, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m

Hoshun Restaurant 1601 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans Buffet Dinner and Cash Bar
(1.2-mile walk or 5-minute taxi from New Orleans Convention Center)
The Health Activist Dinner is a 30+ year tradition that celebrates activism for social justice in the field of health with an event that brings together progressive physician leaders and health activists from across the country. Register at:
http://activistdinner.eventbrite.com $55 (Students: $35)
Registration at the door: $60 (Students: $45)

Sponsoring Organizations: American Medical Student Association, APHA Peace Caucus, APHA Socialist Caucus, Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, Doctors Council SEIU, Doctors for Global Health, Health- Begins.org, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, National Physicians Alliance, Physicians for a National Health Program, Physicians for Human Rights, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Project for Nuclear Awareness, and RxDemocracy.

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continued from page 1

Tuesday November 18, 8 PM- 12 midnight Occupational Health Section Dance Party!

Fund Raising Social, Party, and Dance All welcome!!!!
Location: The Attic at Lucy’s

Primary Prevention of War Group Needs You!

teaching and learning competencies (3).

The group is also developing website content that will compile faculty resources for teaching on war and health (4). This year, the group has been doing ongoing advocacy targeting the IOM’s recent report “Preventing Psychological Disorders in Service Members and their Families,” which made no mention of preventing war itself. There will be a presentation at APHA on the IOM report, titled “War, public health and institutional conflicts of interest” (#4253, Tuesday 12:30).

The group has also recently reached out to Deans of SPPH to alert them to the group’s work and encourage expanded curricular offerings, as well as to recruit interested faculty to join the group’s efforts. At the upcoming APHA meeting, the PH-PPW will be holding a session “Integrating Competencies for the Prevention of War into Public Health Curricula” (#4352.1, Tuesday 2:30) that will focus on the competency framework recently published in AJPH. This working round table session will engage all attendees
in visioning expanded curricular offerings and academic strategies for promoting the primary prevention of war. We invite all to contribute! For those not attending and interested in learning more about this Working Group, please contact Shelley White at

1. American Public Health Association. 2009, November 10. The Role of Public Health Practitioners, Academics and Advocates in Relation to Armed Conflict and War. Policy Number 20095. Available on-line at:http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1391 2. White, Shelley K.; Lown, Bernard; and Rohde, Jon E. 2013. “War or Health? Assessing Public Health Education and the Potential for Primary Prevention.” Public Health Reports 128(6). Available on-line at: http://www.publichealthreports.org/issueopen.cfm?articleID=3036
3. Wiist, William; Barker, Kathy; Arya, Neil; Rohde, Jon; Donohoe, Martin; White, Shelley; Lubens, Pauline; Gorman, Gerry; Hagopian, Amy. 2014. “The Role of Public Health in the Prevention of War: Rationale and Competencies.”American Journal of Public Health 104(6): e34-e47. Available on-line at: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301778
4. Faculty Resources for Teaching War and Public Health. Available at: http://phsj.org/war-and-peace/

Fall 2014 APHA Peace Caucus Page 4

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Speaking out on Gaza in the Lancet: Utilizing the power of a journal.



When should a journal use the enormous power it has?

It can sometimes be hard to say. Scientists act as though science means a lack of subjectivity and freedom from politics. We expect our journals to be objective, publishing only data free from bias. Journals and readers ignore the implicit bias of accepting mainstream political explanations.

As of July 30, 1,330 Palestians have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s latest assault, at least 3/4 of them civilians, according to the UN, and 1/3 of them children, according to UNICEF. 1 in 8 people are homeless.

3 civilians (2 Israeli, 1 Thai) and 53 Israeli soldiers have been killed.

This is not only an attack and a war, but a huge humanitarian crisis that is targeting Gaza civilians. And a humanitarian crisis is the time for a medical journal to spend the capital it has earned, and to make its own political and philosophical links to societal issues.

The Lancet did so, publishing on July 23, 2014 “An open letter for the people in Gaza,” written by a group of physicians and scientists. The letter points out the asynchronous deaths and injuries of the current attacks, and the appalling circumstances that Gazans having been living in after 8 years of blockade by Israel and Egypt.

An Open Letter for the People of Gaza   http://www.thelancet.com/gaza-letter-2014

by Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert, and Swee Ang on behalf of 24 signatories

We are doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives. We are also informed people; we teach the ethics of our professions, together with the knowledge and practice of it. We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.

On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel.

We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called “defensive aggression”. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people.

We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008. Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose.

This action also terrifies those who are not directly hit, and wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation. Our condemnation and disgust are further compounded by the denial and prohibition for Gaza to receive external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances.

The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.1

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”2

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited.3 Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade.3 They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),1 as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

Weaponry known to cause long-term damages on health of the whole population are used; particularly non fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs.45 We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children and we constantly see that so-called intelligent weapons fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives.

We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s wellbeing.

Israel’s behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade.

This “defensive aggression” of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity must be stopped.

Additionally, should the use of gas be further confirmed, this is unequivocally a war crime for which, before anything else, high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe.

As we write, other massacres and threats to the medical personnel in emergency services and denial of entry for international humanitarian convoys are reported.6 We as scientists and doctors cannot keep silent while this crime against humanity continues. We urge readers not to be silent too. Gaza trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated modern military machines. The land is poisoned by weapon debris, with consequences for future generations. If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so and take a stand against this war crime, we are also complicit in the destruction of the lives and homes of 1·8 million people in Gaza.

We register with dismay that only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza. We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre.

Paola Manduca:  New Weapons Research Group and University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy

Iain Chalmers: James Lind Library, Oxford, UK

Derek Summerfield: Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London, UK

Mads Gilbert: Clinic of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway, Tromso, Norway

Swee Ang:  Barts and the Royal London Hospital, London, UK

On behalf of 24 signatories.


1 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza emergency situation report (as of 21 July 2014, 1500 hrs). http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_22_07_2014.pdf. (accessed July 22, 2014).

2 Webb-Pullman J. Dignity or death—we cannot give up now. http://gaza.scoop.ps/2014/07/dignity-or-death-we-cannot-give-up-now/. (accessed July 22, 2014).

3 Gilbert M. Brief report to UNRWA: The Gaza Health Sector as of June 2014.http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/final_report_-_gaza_health_sector_june-july_2014_-_mads_gilbert_2.pdf. (accessed July 22, 2014).

4 Naim A, Al Dalies H, El Balawi M, et al. Birth defects in Gaza: prevalence, types, familiarity and correlation with environmental factors. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2012; 9: 1732-1747. PubMed

5 Manduca P, Naim A, Signoriello S. Specific association of teratogen and toxicant metals in hair of newborns with congenital birth defects or developmentally premature birth in a cohort of couples with documented parental exposure to military attacks: observational study at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza, Palestine. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2014; 11: 5208-5223. PubMed

6 Ma’an News Agency. 4 killed, over 50 injured as Israel targets al-Aqsa hospital.http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=715087. (accessed July 22, 2014).


There has been outrage in response to the letter, with 2 examples being  The Lancet’s Latest Abuse of Medicine for Political Ends , and When Anti-Semitism Strikes Science and Medicine .

First author Paola Manduca, a geneticist at the University of Genoa who worked in Gaza in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, has gone further than the Lancet article in a follow-up interview. For example, she is forthright about the tunnels to Israel, pointing out that these are not just roads for weapons, but are the main way any food or medical supplies get into Gaza past Israeli blockade. Dismayed that so few Israeli academics signed an appeal to the Israeli government about Gaza, she mentions the Israeli group “Physicians for Human Rights” and what a small minority they are in Israel: even though academics know full well that Palestinians cannot even participate in research freely, they still act as though Palestianians have the same rights as Israelis in Israel.

This is not the first time the Lancet has published letters and articles about Palestine as a humanitarian crisis. For example, in 2009, The Lancet launched a series of articles on “Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” , written by a team of health scientists in Palestine, as well as by people in WHO, the UN, and academic institutions in the USA, UK, Norway, and France. There was a follow-up series in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

The Lancet editor Richard Horton wrote one of the opening articles of the series, “The occupied Palestinian territory: peace, justice, and health,” framing the healthcare issues as a direct consequence of the Israeli occupation.  He has visited Gaza, and has not only addressed the healthcare and humanitarian crisis by his own article authorship, and the editorial article choice in The Lancet, but by speaking out and writing in other forums. He is constantly attacked personally richardmillett.wordpress.com/tag/dr-richard-horton/ for his activism, with the charge of being anti-Semitic, and evangelical.

Horton speaks publicly on many other issues besides Palestine, for example, on GM food safety , the rationing of funds for science , and the need for scientists to engage with citizens .

Horton uses his power.

Here in the USA, which funds Israel weaponry, the carnage is still labeled as self-defense on the part of Israel.  Despite a growing lack of support for Israel government policy in Gaza, the US Senate voted unanimously to support Israel.

We need the Meducas and the Hortons of the scientific world to speak out, to realize that no scientist or health worker exists in a vacuum. There are avenues in which scientists as citizens can act to help in Gaza:

Resolutions in professional societies.

Letters to the editor.

Divestment and boycott campaigns.


Neuroscientist and author Sam Harris has tried to look dispassionately/“scientifically” at the Israel-Palestine situation, seeing the present massacre as being a shame but a predicable and acceptable outcome. This is, in the face of the massacre that is occurring, is not acceptable.

Follow- up and activism- April 2015

There has continued to be enormous criticism of Richard Horton and The Lancet. A petition, initiated by British academics, scientists, and physicians, is currently requesting signatures. See http://handsoffthelancet.com/.



Notoriety pays: Cliff Mass

Cliff mass 1 Influenced by mentors Carl Sagan and Steve Sneider, University of Washington atmospheric meteorologist Cliff Mass has always happily considered himself to be an activist. As a university professor, he already saw himself as more than a scientist in being an educator. His list of outreach activities- and especially, his very public firing by radio station KUOW – has made him quite well known in Seattle.

The reasons Cliff was fired are political and comical.

For 15 years, Cliff had a segment on public radio station KUOW, where he gave the weather forecast and discussed Pacific Northwest weather, climate, and education-related topics. His show had a large following, and audience response to his descriptions of the need for coastal radar played a large role in the establishment of that system. But then Cliff made a big mistake- he spoke about math.

Through the years, he had notice a diminution of math skills in the K-12 schools and in entering freshman at the university, which he blamed partially on the discovery math curricula that was recommended by many Schools of Education, including the University of Washington School of Education. The problem here was that the University of Washington School of Education was a big donor to KUOW. So KUOW issued a no-math warning.

Cliff complied reluctantly, having other avenues (such as a popular blog) where he could discuss math. But on another show, a Seattle Times article about the rejection of in-state A student applicants (the University of Washington is a state university) in favor of higher-paying out-of-state students came up. As a faculty member who was an undergraduate advisor with colleagues on the admissions committee, Cliff knew this urban legend to be untrue, and said so. And the next day, he was fired, primed by speaking out about math. You can read Cliff’s account of this here. http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2011/05/no-more-weather-on-kuow-weekday.html

Another radio station, KPLU, picked up Cliff’s segment, and there he enjoys free rein of expression and a larger audience. Another windfall is that many people cancelled donations to KUOW, sending them instead to Cliff, for his lab, or to KPLU. He is yet better known, and this notoriety can be very, very useful.

True citizen, Cliff is constantly involved in one civic issue after another, often controversial. As part of his crusade for better math education, Cliff has worked on the elections of 3 pro-math Seattle Public Schools board member elections, and has seen all 3 candidates win despite money poured into opponents’ elections by business interests in town.

He is also activist in his field, speaking out publicly on science issues. Early in his career he began advocating for better weather prediction in the USA, which was seen as criticism of NOAA. On April 1, H.R. 2413, The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act passed a vote in the House of Representatives and has gone to the Senate, a gratifying and long-coming result.

While a believer in anthropogenic climate change, Cliff is outraged that many people, including scientists, overhype and overstate data, and has publicly dissected scientific literature that exaggerate the data. He is particularly annoyed at scientists and media who attribute specific weather events to long term climate change. (See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/15/texas-tall-tales-and-global-warming/ on the Texas heatwave and  http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2011/06/scary-snowpack-stories.html on snowpack association with climate change.)

“Careers are made and lots of research money comes to the ‘right’ position,” he says. “And the media loves global warming. But if you don’t know the facts, you can’t fight it. It isn’t worth it to do the right thing with the wrong information.”

An unfortunate side of Cliff’s responses to exaggeration is that climate change deniers quote him to demonstrate lack of scientific consensus on climate change, or even as a disbeliever. But being as honest and accurate trumps the occasional misuse of words.

(This is a very important point, and I like Cliff’s take on it. Many scientists refuse to speak with media representatives, as they fear being misquoted. This is a shortsighted fear of little actual significance. Your credibility can ultimately be more hurt by staying silent.)

Still, Cliff says, you have to protect yourself, and you can’t let activism get in the way of developing your career. He advises academics to get tenure before taking on too much controversy. Universities can, as Cliff’s did, put pressure on a faculty member because of their own vested interests, and won’t always protect their faculty in public conflicts.

Update: On June 3rd, Cliff’s choice for elementary school curriculum was voted in by the School Board, throwing over the District choice.