Monday, October 15, 2007

Al Gore, Nobel Laureate for Peace

Joining the likes of Martin Luther King, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, and Mother Teresa, this weekend Al Gore was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - perhaps the world's most prestigious award - along with the scientific Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their work on motivating governments, businesses and individuals around the world, as Al Gore likes to say, "to solve the climate crisis".

What a stunning and emotional encouragement for the environmental community... if climate change was still considered by anyone to be a minor issue, this confirms what so many have been saying for years now - that climate change is the greatest challenge that mankind has ever faced. We must work together - now - to make changes to live more peacefully and simply, on a global scale. I couldn't be more hopeful about the future of our world than now.

Here's the official statement from the Nobel committee, and statements from Al Gore (listen to his comments on YouTube if you haven't already!) and the IPCC.

Here are some news articles on the subject: one from NYT announcing the win, an article by Andy Revkin saying how the science of global warming (led by the IPCC) and the messenger for action (Al Gore) have complimented each other in sometimes suprising ways - despite science being necessarily conservative in its assessment and Gore using sometimes firey language to turn the science fact into action (while driving a hybrid). The NYT also has an article saying Gore doesn't have to run for President - he has just about the biggest platform he could ever have now, AND he can work full time. Still, President Bush has refused to call Gore to congratulate him, and the WSJ editorial page refused to even acknowledge that he won. The Nobel committee is supposed to be apolitical (but it's really not), and in later comments they refused to say that awarding Gore was a criticism of American climate policy, but they did say that they hope all nations would adopt measures to address climate change as soon as possible. The NYT editorial board agreed. But in places like China, that may be easier said than done. Effects of climate change are making news not even just every year, but now almost every day. A new report says that the north polar ice cap may be completely gone in only 20 years, there is speculation that the new IPCC report due out next month may claim that greenhouse gas concentrations, even despite Kyoto, are currently at a level not expected for 10 more years (455ppm CO2e), and closer to home, the current drought in the Southeast US is the worst in over a century of recorded history. There's a lot of work to do.

Environmentalism has everything to do with peace. The Nobel committee has started to realize this more and more in the last decade, making more awards to those working for development (like last year's - to a microfinance pioneer), food security, and the environment. Maybe, just maybe, the world is starting to realize that everything we have begins and ends with gifts from the earth. And the more we work together to take care of the earth, the more we will take care of each other.

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