“Big Bang” event is arms company PR not science education, say critics

By agency reporter
February 28, 2009

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) have jointly condemned the sponsorship of a youth science event by the UK's largest arms company - saying it promotes weapons sales that endanger people and planet.

Arms manufacturer BAE Systems is a major sponsor of “The Big Bang”, a science and technology education event aimed at young people. CAAT and SGR say that BAE's involvement is entirely inappropriate and the sponsorship deal should be immediately withdrawn.

They compare BAE's involvement to allowing Darth Vader to demonstrate his light sabre at a children's party.

The Big Bang – apparently BAE does not see the irony in the title, note the groups – is to be held at the QE11 Centre at Westminster during National Science Week on 4-6 March 2009.

Organisers say that 10,000 students and teachers are expected to attend.

BAE claims that it is sponsoring the Big Bang to encourage cooperation between government, industry and engineering institutions and to “inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists in the UK.”

SGR and CAAT say that BAE's supports science education in order to recruit more young people into its sphere. However, BAE makes its money by selling weapons worldwide, including to some of the world's most dangerous countries. Rather than more weapons, the world needs a green energy revolution and major investment in sustainable science and technology.

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, commented:
“The high-profile involvement of BAE Systems in this event sends completely the wrong message to young people. It encourages them to associate science and technology with war, the arms trade and nuclear weapons. We need to offer young people a far more positive vision for how science and technology can be used, one which gives much higher priority to achieving environmental sustainability and social justice, and offers alternatives to the use of military force.”

Meanwhile, Kaye Stearman, spokesperson for CAAT added: “BAE Systems is currently involved in court cases and corruption investigations in seven countries. The weapons trade is not a legitimate business. No company can participate in it ethically. The arms trade exacerbates conflicts across the globe and contributes heavily to an increasingly unstable world.”

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is an independent UK-based membership organisation of 1000 natural and social scientists, engineers, IT professionals and architects. It promotes ethical science, design and technology, based on the principles of openness, accountability, peace, social justice and environmental sustainability.

The Big Bang is co-sponsored by oil giant Shell. Partners include the government Department of Innovation, Universities & Skills and the Department Children Schools and Families. Other partners include The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Engineering & Technology Board, the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineering and Technology

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