SCIENCE

Nobel Honors Gore for Climate Change Battle

Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are the joint winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday.

The 10 million kronor (US$1.5 million) award was jointly made for the recipients’ efforts to increase and disseminate knowledge about man-made climate change and to lay the foundations for what needs to be done to counteract such change, the committee said.

“Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world’s leading environmentalist politicians,” the committee said. “His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.”

Seeking ‘Sharper Focus’

The IPCC, meanwhile, “has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming,” the committee added. “Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming.”

The goal of the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision was “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,” it said.

“Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control,” the committee added.

‘Deeply Honored’

Gore said he is “deeply honored” by the award, and that he plans to donate all the proceeds to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan nonprofit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the United States and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

“This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the world’s pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis — a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years,” Gore said. “We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.”

‘To Be Commended’

The White House expressed congratulations to Gore and the IPCC on Friday following news of the award.

“The administration is happy for former vice president Gore and the IPCC scientists,” Kristen Hellmer, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, told TechNewsWorld.

“Former vice president Gore is to be commended for his dedication to making people aware of the problem,” she said.

“President Bush is focused on sensible, technology-based solutions that will sustain the important global effort to lift people out of poverty,” she added. “Even as we confront the long term challenge of climate change, the president and first lady urge people around the world to also focus on and join our efforts to address the immediate and urgent battles against AIDS, malaria, illiteracy and terrorism.”

‘Absolutely Fantastic’

Members of the IPCC, not surprisingly, were elated at the news of today’s award.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to be recognized for all the hard work that thousands and thousands of scientists and policy makers around the world have done over the past few years,” Kristen Averyt, a staff scientist with IPCC Working Group I, told TechNewsWorld. Averyt is one of just three U.S.-based staff members for the Geneva-based organization.

“Everybody knows who Al Gore is, and now they’re all asking, ‘what’s the IPCC?'” Averyt said. “That’s the best question they could be asking.”

The IPCC is due to release a report next month in which the individual reports of all three of its working groups will be synthesized, Averyt noted.

“I think people will really be paying attention to that document now, even more than they would have before,” she said.

Hope for the Future

Indeed, the Nobel committee is not alone in hoping for increased interest and accelerated remedial action in the wake of today’s prize.

“I think it’s wonderful because it draws attention to something very important for humanity, ultimately,” Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and a lead author on the IPCC report, told TechNewsWorld. “Hopefully this will help increase the movement towards addressing some of the issues that are still outstanding.”

A report on climate change will soon be released by a special House committee set up by Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this year, Trenberth added, including a suite of legislative proposals to address global warming.

“A fair bit of education is still required to gain the political will and acceptance for this,” Trenberth noted. “My hope is that this prize will help to elevate the issue in the minds of Americans, and that something will come out of it.”

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