“What happened to the unanimous desire for peace?” John Polanyi discusses the dream of disarmament.

November 10, 2023 by Alyx Dellamonica

In a recent Globe and Mail opinion piece, "We cannot give up on the dream of nuclear disarmament," Professor John Polanyi shares his perspective on nuclear disarmament and the arms race, offering the experience of decades spent grappling with what he calls the central debate of the age.

Polanyi has been engaged in this conversation for 62 years, and talks of seeing the debate move through defeatist phases and optimistic periods, through the Cuban Missile Crisis, moments of complacency, the collapse of the Soviet Union and beyond. Though there are many causes for concern at the present moment, he points out that the 2011 New Start Treaty is still in effect, and analyzes the ramifications of other international factors, including the potential influence of artificial intelligence.

Polanyi’s essay on the future of disarmament appeared in the Globe and Mail on November 6th, 2023. It is an adaptation of a talk he gave at Revitalizing Nuclear Disarmament After the Ukraine War, a round table discussion in Ottawa.

John Polanyi is a Professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, and won the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry. The Department of Chemistry has plans to honour his contributions to science and the university with a special display in the Lash Miller Building late in 2023.