The nuclear-winter debate has long since been forgotten, but you can still spy it behind every cloud and confusion. It holds a lesson or two. A public understanding of science is not well served by shackling science to a national-security state. The public may not naturally have much tolerance for uncertainty, but uncertainty is the best that many scientific arguments can produce. Critics of climate-change science who ground their argument on uncertainty have either got to apply that same standard of evidence to nuclear-weapons strategy or else find a better argument. Because, as Sagan once put it, theories that involve the end of the world are not amenable to experimental verification—at least, not more than once.
Jill Lepore, “Autumn of the Atom”, The New Yorker (30 January 2017), 28.