He may have lost the 2000 presidential election, but he has won the admiration of the world. Former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been jointly awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their work in describing the facts of global warming to the world.
The Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee said the award had been given to Gore and the IPCC in recognition of “their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”
While controversial, Gore’s 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth,” was a box office success, winning him an Oscar and putting climate change on the front burner of the U.S. agenda, despite the Bush Administration’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol and to seriously consider climate change as a global threat.
The Nobel Committee explained its decision as based on the premise that “extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the earth’s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world’s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states.”
The IPCC has worked on the issue over the past two decades, issuing ever more concise reports detailing the changes that have occurred. Its latest report (See IJ web site April 6) updated past studies and set forth the “current scientific understanding of impacts of climate change on natural, managed and human systems, the capacity of these systems to adapt and their vulnerability.”
“The IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming,” said the Committee’s bulletin. “Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.”
A number of those scientists come from the insurance industry, where studying climate change has been much more than an intellectual pursuit for the past two decades. Lloyd’s, with its 360 reports, Munich Re and Swiss Re, with their scientific teams and other companies have recognized that climate change will most likely produce very serious economic consequences.
The Committee noted that Gore is “probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.” He has been in the forefront of the campaign to make the world aware of climate change for a long times for a long time, as “one of the world’s leading environmentalist politicians.”
The announcement said that “by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.”
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