Climate Changes Nobel Peace Prize?

There is wide spec­u­la­tion that Al Gore will win the Nobel Peace Prize today, and the bet­ting odds are high­ly in his favor. Let’s get this straight. Alfred Nobel’s Will says that the Peace Prize shall be giv­en to:

the per­son who shall have done the most or the best work for fra­ter­ni­ty between the nations, for the abo­li­tion or reduc­tion of stand­ing armies and for the hold­ing and pro­mo­tion of peace con­gress­es.Nobel_medalje

Sure, cli­mate change has the poten­tial to cause wars, but aren’t there peo­ple who have been instru­men­tal in fight­ing for peace in exist­ing wars? Iron­i­cal­ly, this is hap­pen­ing when a British court judge ruled that Gore’s An Incon­ve­nient Truth con­tained nine errors.

What are the var­i­ous opin­ions being expressed?


Such an award would fall under the expand­ed con­cept of peace but the activ­i­ty can be linked to the cli­mate-con­flict com­bi­na­tion and is high­ly time­ly,” said NRK vet­er­an jour­nal­ist Geir Hell­je­sen who has a sol­id record of tip­ping prize win­ners.

Please enlight­en me if any­one under­stood that.

Salon: Why Al Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

What’s world peace got to do with glob­al warm­ing? Per­haps every­thing. Or it will if things don’t change fast — if, in 10 or 20 or 40 years dev­as­tat­ing floods and droughts dis­place mil­lions of refugees and spur nations and tribes to des­per­ate blood­let­ting. At which point, no one will have the slight­est doubt why mem­bers of the renowned Scan­di­na­vian foun­da­tion thought for­mer U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore was an obvi­ous choice for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

There’s one ‘per­haps’ and two big ‘ifs’ in that state­ment. Since when were Nobel Peace Prizes award­ed based on ifs?

Ten­nessee Cen­ter for Pol­i­cy Research:

Hand­ing a Nobel Prize to Al Gore, a proven hyp­ocrite on the issue of cli­mate change, would be an injus­tice to the many peo­ple brave­ly fight­ing for peace and free­dom through­out the world. We dis­cov­ered that while Gore told us to cur­tail our ener­gy use, he guz­zled more elec­tric­i­ty at his posh Nashville man­sion in a month than the aver­age Amer­i­can fam­i­ly used in a year.

I don’t know about the hyp­ocrite part, but I do think that it will be an injus­tice to the oth­er deserv­ing folks.

The Investors Busi­ness Dai­ly (quot­ed on an Aus­tralian site) writes on how the stature of the Nobel Peace Prize has dete­ri­o­rat­ed over the years, and says:

Just what the Nobel com­mit­tee real­ly needs, anoth­er fraud in its pan­theon of lau­re­ates. If Gore wins the prize as expect­ed, it will mark anoth­er step in the long politi­cized decline of a once high­ly regard­ed inter­na­tion­al award.”

Most envi­ron­men­tal­ists are gaga over the news. Bran­don Keim, from Wired Mag­a­zine, stands out among the lot. A staunch sup­port­er of the fight against cli­mate change epit­o­mizes my thoughts behind this post:

If the Nobel com­mit­tee does choose Gore or Watt-Clouti­er or the IPCC, they’ll cer­tain­ly send a mes­sage to the world. A good mes­sage, in fact. But it would still be a shame if the mean­ing of the Nobel Peace Prize itself became a casu­al­ty of glob­al warm­ing.

If he does get it, the Nor­we­gian Com­mit­tee will have screwed up the AlGo­rethm for the Peace Prize.

Fur­ther Read­ing: Com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about the Nobel Peace Prize

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  • I don’t know too much about Gore but I guess these awards are gen­er­al­ly biased in favour of cer­tain nations. Maybe its time we in South Asia had our own ver­sion of the Nobel Peace Prize…we can call it the Mahat­ma Gan­di Peace Prize. Make it big­ger than the Nobel!! Even they acknowl­edge (unof­fi­cial­ly I think) that it was a big mis­take not to give it to him! Well, now we have the Inter­na­tion­al Non Vio­lence Day in the Mahatma’s hon­our now…lets have a Peace Prize too!

  • Nita: That’s a great idea in the con­text of Gand­hi, but I won­der if India has the stature and cred­i­bil­i­ty to insti­tute such an award!

    Our South Asian neigh­bors view us as a bul­ly, we’re apa­thet­ic to the fight for democ­ra­cy in next-door Bur­ma, we’ve the 2nd high­est ter­ror­ist casu­al­ties and don’t do any­thing about it, and so on and on…

    Call­ing it Mahat­ma Gand­hi Peace Prize makes it sound good though…in fact, in some ways, bet­ter than the Nobel Peace Prize, con­sid­er­ing some of the peo­ple who have been award­ed while Gand­hi wasn’t!

  • Mahen­dra: I think it is an unen­vi­able task to find 6 deserv­ing peo­ple out of 6 bil­lion, year after year, in a man­ner that sat­is­fies every coun­try and every per­son.

    The Nobel com­mit­tee does what is called ‘sat­is­fic­ing’. So I would not be sur­prised if they gave it to Gore this year, entire­ly suit­able or not.

    There is a trend in recent years of award­ing Nobel prizes to make polit­i­cal points about issues, which is a shift from ear­li­er years. Harold Pin­ter and now Doris Lessing’s lit­er­a­ture Nobels both are illus­tra­tions.

    This means that India and Chi­na are now both in with a bet­ter prob­a­bil­i­ty than ever before. All they both need is to DO some­thing earth-shat­ter­ing, not just BE earth-shat­ter­ing with their pop­u­la­tions, rapid growth and enor­mous and grow­ing con­sump­tion of the world’s resources.


  • She­faly: Yup, it is an unen­vi­able task and it was quite expect­ed. But I’m dis­ap­point­ed.

    Cli­mate change activists can indeed deserve note­wor­thy prizes, but not the Nobel Peace Prize, as it was envi­sioned by Nobel.

    If there is no cat­e­go­ry suit­able because this was a non-issue in the days of Nobel, they should cre­ate a new cat­e­go­ry if they like, but not ignore great peo­ple who’re fight­ing wars with no ifs and buts. They are the peo­ple the award was meant for.

  • I was think­ing that if the peace prize is indeed being giv­en for envi­ron­men­tal pur­pos­es then why not to Green­peace which is one of the old­est cru­sad­er (est. 1971).
    One look at their fund­ing pol­i­cy how­ev­er revealed why

    //Greenpeace does not solic­it con­tri­bu­tions from gov­ern­ment or cor­po­ra­tions, nor will we endorse polit­i­cal candidates.//

    Maybe that’s why.

  • Mad­huri: 🙂

  • Fast Dots

    I am not quite sure as to the rel­e­vance of the Nobel Peace prize. If you think about it, Al Gore is now in the same dis­tin­guished group as Yass­er Arafat. I scanned through the list of past prize win­ners, and found that recent awardees dont have much to do with “… work for fra­ter­ni­ty between the nations…” etc. as you men­tion above. They should per­haps con­sid­er renam­ing the Peace prize to some­thing like _The_Nobel_Prize_For_All_The_Other_Stuff_.

  • Fast Dots: I absolute­ly agree! The peace prize has been reduced to “for all the oth­er stuff”! 🙂

  • I won­der if the award was a polit­cal state­ment? I think many right-wingers want to con­vince us that glob­al warm­ing is a myth. I remem­ber the world out­rage when the US didn’t sign the Kyoto Agree­ment under Bush. Giv­ing the award to Gore sends a sig­nal.

    I think the Iraq War is com­plete­ly based on greed for oil. If that’s true, then the award to Gore is jus­ti­fied.

    If he is an ener­gy hog, shame on him, but we must sep­a­rate the mes­sage from the mes­sen­ger, don’t you think?

    Ein­stein is known to have treat­ed his close fam­i­ly mem­bers very poor­ly, while cham­pi­oning peace. I’ve read that Dante was a scoundrel, even though he was a great poet. And the list goes on.

  • Cristine: Thank you. Yes, the award seems to be a state­ment of some sort, and my point is that Alfred Nobel didn’t intend it to be that way.

    Sep­a­rat­ing the mes­sage from the mes­sen­ger is good, but here, the mes­sage exists in the first place because of Alfred Nobel. The mes­sen­gers seem to have for­got­ten what mes­sage he want­ed to send out…:-)

  • Fast Dots

    Cristine, what is the mes­sage / sig­nal? And how is it rel­e­vant to world peace?

    Some­thing to pon­der about —

  • Thanks for bring­ing my atten­tion to this post. You have quot­ed some real­ly inter­est­ing sources, Gore’s selec­tion for this award has been very dis­ap­point­ing.

  • Pre­rna: Thank you very much. It seems we’re in very small com­pa­ny. Almost any­one and every­one who utters a word against cli­mate change is being brand­ed as evil, and the real mean­ing of the Nobel Peace Prize has just become anoth­er vic­tim of this cru­sade.

    Thanks again.

  • Mahen­dra, If you don’t mind, I’m going to reply to Fast Dots on the theme of the Nobel Peace Prize and how they choose their awards.

    It seems like peace­ful, con­sis­tent resis­tance doesn’t war­rant a Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe the prize going to Al Gore was not polit­i­cal. Maybe it was a fash­ion state­ment. It’s very trendy to be green.

  • Cristine: please go ahead and respond to Fast Dots. I don’t mind at all. This top­ic is open for every­one to com­ment on!

    After all, as one who believes in free­dom of speech, how can I not prac­tice it on my own blog? 🙂