October 12, 2007
Al Gore, U.N. Body Win Nobel Peace Prize
OSLO, Norway -- Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.
Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary on global warming, won an Academy Award this year and he had been widely expected to win the prize.
It cited Gore's awareness at an early stage "of the climatic challenges the world is facing.
The committee cited the Panel on Climate Change for two decades of scientific reports that have "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming."
Members of the panel, a network of 2,000 scientists, were surprised that it was chosen to share the honor with Gore, a spokeswoman said.
"We would have been happy even if he had received it alone because it is a recognition of the importance of this issue," spokeswoman Carola Traverso Saibante said.
The panel forecast this year that all regions of the world will be affected by climate warming and that a third of the Earth's species will vanish if global temperatures continue to rise until they are 3.6 degrees above the average temperature in the 1980s and '90s.
"Decisive action in the next decade can still avoid some of the most catastrophic scenarios the IPCC has forecast," said Yvo de Boer, the U.N.'s top climate official.
He urged consensus among the United States and other countries on attacking the problem.
Climate change has moved high on the international agenda this year. The U.N. climate panel has been releasing reports, talks on a replacement for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate are set to resume and on Europe's northern fringe, where the awards committee works, there is growing concern about the melting Arctic.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said global warming, "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."
Jan Egeland, a Norwegian peace mediator and former U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, also called climate change more than an environmental issue.
"It is a question of war and peace," said Egeland, now director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo. "We're already seeing the first climate wars, in the Sahel belt of Africa." He said nomads and herders are in conflict with farmers because the changing climate has brought drought and a shortage of fertile lands.
The committee often uses the coveted prize to cast the global spotlight on a relatively little-known person or cause. Since Gore already has a high profile some had doubted that the committee would bestow the prize on him "because he does not need it."
In recent years, the committee has broadened the interpretation of peacemaking and disarmament efforts outlined by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel in creating the prize with his 1895 will. The prize now often also recognizes human rights, democracy, elimination of poverty, sharing resources and the environment.
Two of the past three prizes have been untraditional, with the 2004 award to Kenya environmentalist Wangari Maathai and last year's award to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank, which makes to micro-loans to the country's poor.
The prizes include a gold medal, a diploma and $1.5 million.
On Thursday, Doris Lessing, author of dozens of works from short stories to science fiction, including the classic "The Golden Notebook," won the Nobel Prize for literature.
On Wednesday, Gerhard Ertl of Germany won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for studies of chemical reactions on solid surfaces. On Tuesday, France's Albert Fert and German Peter Gruenberg won the physics award for discovering a phenomenon that lets computers and digital music players store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks.
Americans Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies, and Briton Sir Martin J. Evans, won the medicine prize Monday for groundbreaking discoveries that led to a powerful technique for manipulating mouse genes.
The prize for economics will be announced Monday.
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