An organization consisting of some 850 members, the United Kingdom-based Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) was formed in 1992 from the merger of three groups: Scientists Against Nuclear Arms; Electronics and Computing for Peace; and Psychologists for Peace. These organizations were originally established to campaign against the use of science and technology for military purposes, and to work for the abolition of weapons of mass destruction from the earth. With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the groups formed a single entity and expanded the scope of their work to include also environmentalism, with particular emphasis on the development of renewable energy sources.
Characterizing military-related spending as a siphon that unjustifiably draws money away from worthier projects, SGR laments the fact that annual world military spending is nearly $800 billion, and alleges that the U.S. budget alone accounts for nearly half that amount. Spending some of this money on environmental and social issues could prevent many international conflicts, says SGR. The organization claims that American military spending is motivated not by the nation’s desire to protect itself against external threats, but rather by its imperialistic ambitions and its desire to control Middle Eastern oil reserves. Moreover, SGR disparages the environmental impact of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby echoing its denunciations of the 1991 Gulf War.
Stating that it is “deeply concerned about the likely major impacts of human-induced climate change,” SGR says that “[c]utting fossil fuel use will clearly have to form part of any response to global warming.” The organization adds that even “[i]f the world was to completely halt all carbon emissions tomorrow, it would still take decades upon decades for our planet to repair itself.”
SGR is also waging a campaign against the genetic modification of crops, a technology which it believes may cause “significant and irreversible impacts on the environment and on animal and human health.” It is also wages this campaign because of suspicion of the motives of the biotechnology industry and “the increasing control of the food chain held by a small number of multinational corporations.”
As a means of advancing its agendas, SGR organizes regular conferences (approximately one per year) on topical issues in science and technology. Moreover, it publishes a semi-annual newsletter and numerous additional publications. Lobbying aggressively on the issues with which it is principally concerned, it replies to UK government consultations and makes submissions to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology.
Hostile to capitalism and free markets, SGR was a signatory to a recent “Our World is Not for Sale” campaign opposing the World Trade Organization (WTO) specifically, and globalization generally.
Affiliated with the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), SGR is funded largely through membership subscriptions and donations from private individuals and like-minded foundations and organizations such as the Cobb Charity, the Network for Social Change, and the Science and Society Trust, which are British leftist/pacifist organizations. SGR states that it does not accept any funding from the military, government defense ministries, or military corporations.