A Path Where No Man Thought

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Like Paul Ehrlich’s and others’ earlier THE COLD AND THE DARK: THE WORLD AFTER NUCLEAR WAR, Carl Sagan and Richard Turco’s lengthy study, A PATH WHERE NO MAN THOUGH: NUCLEAR WINTER AND THE END OF THE ARMS RACE, investigates evidence that suggests that severe changes in the earth’s climate would occur following an all-out nuclear war. Sagan, Turco, and the many other scientists whose work they present believe that such a nuclear war would create dense dust clouds that would remain in the earth’s atmosphere for an extended period of time, blocking out the sun.

In addition to reducing the amount of light available to sustain plant life, such an event would also lower the planet’s average temperature significantly enough to destroy the earth’s complex ecosystem.

But A PATH WHERE NO MAN THOUGHT does not simply outline what Sagan, Turco, and many other scientists have been predicting could happen since the early 1980’s. Sagan and Turco use the evidence as a persuasive tool to argue for large-scale reduction in the number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both the United States and the Soviet Union to a point where national security could be ensured but to a level whereby nuclear winter would be averted.

They contend that arsenals should contain no more than three hundred, rather than the current fifty thousand nuclear armaments, a proposal that provokes considerable skepticism. Nevertheless, Sagan and Turco discuss the science behind the theory in accessible terms and present their argument in a cogent way. Even if their perspective represents one that some readers will disagree with vigorously, A PATH WHERE NO MAN THOUGHT will provide a better understanding of why respected scientists such as Sagan and Turco feel so strongly that nuclear arms must be reduced if the planet is to survive.