can’t see the forest

Gore, UN-IPCC Win Nobel Peace Prize

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Former U.S. Vice President and 2000 Presidential Candidate Albert Gore, Jr. has been awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work to bring the attention of policymakers and the public to the problems posed by anthropogenic (manmade) climate change. He shares this prize with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN-IPCC), a consortium of hundreds of climate scientists and other natural scientists from around the world which works to review the literature on climate change and to make sound policy recommendations to the UN and to governments.

At a press conference following the Nobel awards ceremony, Mr. Gore told reporters that climate change is the “most dangerous challenge we’ve ever faced,” according to The Guardian.

“It truly is a planetary emergency,” said Gore. “We have to respond quickly. I’m going back to work right now. This is just the beginning.”

On his sentiments at being the recipient of such a prestigious honor, Mr. Gore reflected, “I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the IPCC – the world’s pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis.”

inconvenient truth Gore’s interest in environmental safeguards reaches back to his days as a U.S. senator, but it was not until after his defeat by George W. Bush in the Presidential elections of 2000 that he became widely known as a strong advocate for sweeping reforms in governmental and corporate policy to ameliorate the clear and irreversible environmental damages caused by human industry. His 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth has served as a centerpiece for this campaign. The film won an Academy Award for best documentary feature, and another for best original song (by Melissa Etheridge).

An Inconvenient Truth has been greeted favorably by a large majority of scientists and political progressives who are well-aware of the immense potential dangers of climate change, and has received scorn from hardliner conservatives and a majority of the governmental representatives of large-scale industry and commerce. It was recently the subject of debate in the British High Court after the UK Government announced that it would provide a copy of the DVD to every secondary school in England and Wales. A London magistrate of the Court ruled on October 10 that the film is “broadly accurate” and only occasionally deviant from consensus, and that its hypotheses are well-supported in the literature. The governments of Spain and Belgium, among others, have widely circulated the film. Gore’s Nobel citation praises him as the individual who has done the most to bring public awareness to climate change over the past several years.

U.S. President George W. Bush famously said “Doubt it” when once asked if he planned to see Gore’s film. Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch Bush ally, quipped “I don’t take policy advice from film” when refusing to meet with Gore during an unofficial visit to Australia. Industrial protectionism and the profit-centric animus of global capitalism continue to pose major obstacles to meaningful environmental policymaking.

The UN-IPCC has continually ramped up its predictions and recommendations in accordance with a growing preponderance of scientific evidence for the seriousness of anthropogenic climate change. It periodically publishes analyses and recommendations to world governments, recommendations which frequently fall upon deaf ears.


4 Responses

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  1. kip said, on 10/13/07 at 10:35 am

    Gore is a great man, and he’s done a hell of a lot. Of course, all his hard work is meaningless as long as “industrial protectionism” rules the day.

  2. Curtis said, on 10/13/07 at 2:03 pm

    Well said, kip.

    I am hoping that this award will at least have the effect of demonstrating to the international public that the issue of climate change is one that the world’s sciences and letters community takes far more seriously than some national governments and large corporations.

    I have written previously that Mr. Gore is obviously not without his own political motivations; but I think it says a hell of a lot that he is waging this campaign outside of the U.S. political arena, and I hope that the public’s general distaste for showboat politics will not discolor the fine work he has been doing to support the scientific community.

  3. QB said, on 10/15/07 at 4:02 pm

    Al Gore deserved the Noble prize.

  4. Curtis said, on 10/16/07 at 6:35 am

    I agree, QB. I think there is room for constructive criticism of the Nobel criteria, but at the end of the day, having read commentary from several members of the committee to get a sense of their reasoning, I think there can be little doubt that their intentions were as clear and honorable as in any other year. Gore and the scientific bodies whose work he represents are highly deserving of positive attention.

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