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As the end of the century approaches, humanity is seeking a broader, deeper sense of security. In this context the voice of the international scientific community must be clearly articulated in order to provide scientific judgment and advice to public policy makers: for example, from the likely global catastrophic effects of a major nuclear war to the resolution or avoidance of conventional conflicts; from the control of pollution and the effects of acid rain to the wider consequences of global warming; from the mounting strains that will arise from the world's growing population to the needs for more reliable methods and arrangements for food supply, health, education and sustainable development. The protection of the global environment is the responsibility of, and in the mutual interest of, all nations.

In the light of these concerns, the Myrdal Foundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences invited an international group of scientists to consider the specific issue of the environmental consequences of nuclear war and to evaluate the 1988 United Nations report on the subject.