Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize - A changing climate for the award

I have been lucky enough to have met several Nobel Peace Prize winners - Bishop Belo and Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to name four. Of those I have met I must say that Nelson Mandela is one who had amazing presence and charisma. A remarkably gracious man who endured absolute and unjustified horror through his years in jail as a victim of the apartheid regime of South Africa.

Desmond Tutu is also incredibly down to earth and I remember him telling a story about that first Christmas night when Joseph searching for premises where he could rest his pregnant wife asked an innkeeper for lodging and on explaining that his wife was in labour and in desperate need of somewhere to bed down was told by the innkeeper that "it wasn't his fault." Tutu said that Joseph replied "It's not my fault either." From that moment he had the congregation he was speaking to at the time eating out of his hand.

So having met these remarkable men I find it hard to swallow that Al Gore was awarded the prize this year for preaching about climate change. Now I haven't seen "An inconvenient truth" but for me the jury on climate change is still out and the science still in question. I do know that my studies on climate change many years ago - when I actually wrote an honours thesis on climate change in the Victorian Alps - showed that there have been times in the past 10,000 years when the world was hotter than it is now.

Irrespective of my opinion on the current climate change debate, and I am willing to concede that the evidence appears to be that the Earth is warming, I don't see how the debate is relevant to the Nobel Peace Prize.

This prize is awarded by a Norwegian panel and according to Irwin Abrams when set up by Alfred Nobel was supposed to 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 planned his prizes only for persons, but the statutes adopted permitted the prizeawarding bodies also to make an award to "an institution or an association."

It would seem that this year the most broad interpretation of "fraternity between nations" has been used to determine the prize winner. Worthy or not, I do not see Al Gore as being someone who has furthered the cause of peace in the same manner as the likes of Nelson Mandela or Desmond Tutu.


Jeff said...

Two things: Since you wrote your honours thesis on climate change, I am wondering why you haven't seen Gore's documentary. If or when you do see it, I would be curious about what you think of it and its evidence.

Perhaps Gore was chosen because A. the global warming issue will force nations to come together to address the coming crisis and with Gore's work and PR, this will happen sooner rather than later (which could have been too late, if you buy Gore's message), and B. there wasn't another candidate that stood out - surely no one in Tutu's league.

Rod said...

I respectfully disagree.

My complete comment can be found here.

Loz said...

Jeff - I think if there is no worthy candidate then the prize should not be awarded.

Rod - As do I with you. But the thing about most awards is that they are based on someones subjective opinion so ninety-nine times out of one hundred there will always be someone who disagrees.

Here are is an alternate view - Bulled by a Gore

Shinade said...

Loz I agree with you 100%. If Al Gore is so concerned about the environment then why does he continue to live the lifestyle that he does? That's my first question...the 2nd statement is that he absolutely does not meet any of the critiria for a Nobel Peace Award!!! I think it is a slap in the face of those such as Nelson Mandela whom I happen to have the utmost respect.
Perhaps Gore's political buddies from Bohemian Grove aided in this year's choice. Grrrrrrr....I apologize but this subject is maddening to me. I stand with you on this one!!~Jackie

Rod said...


I just read Andrew Bolt's "Bulled by a Gore." I found his arguments interesting and worthwhile, deserving a second look.

In the meantime, the situation becomes increasingly severe with the passing of every single day. So, as my closing statement regarding this post, I invite you to see wonderingmind42's "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See..."

All the best,


Loz said...

Hi Shinade - I have re-read the criteria and as Rod says in his comment you can mount an argument for the award. My biggest criticism is more the sloppy science.

Loz said...

Rod - Interesting video and even more interesting comments. I am not advocating no action by the way, I do advocate caution and I am not yet convinced that the increase in CO2 will lead to warming. For example there is an equally valid argument that the melting of the polar ice cap will lead to a weakening of the gulf stream and therefore an increase in the severity of the winters in Europe. Increased snow cover increases the earth's albedo and therefore leads to more rapid cooling and an ice age and lower sea levels.

I remember well the Malthusian arguments from my high school days which predicted famine and global catastrophe caused by overpopulation by the year 2000. Sure there have been many localised tragedies but not the widespread disasters that people believed would happen. Partly because some of the warnings were heeded, so in that sense we should listen to the environmental zealots but maybe temper our response with reason.

supertiff said...

i ask honestly, because i've never studied it myself: what happened in the past 10,000 years when the earth was hotter than it was now?

BetteJo said...

I'm not your gentile and intellectual reader. I have to say what I think and I think Al Gore is a jack-ass. He declared that the debate is over about climate change being caused by man, and that's it? We all believe him? There IS debate about the subject.

The earth has never been static. It changes. What reason do the alarmists give to the great lakes being formed by moving glaciers? Huge change there. In the 70's, scientists were worried about "global cooling" not warming.

I am so annoyed that people are walking around legitimizing the whole theory of global warming and it's causes as fact when it just simply isn't.

Yes, study the issue. I'm not saying let's ignore it. But don't go passing out prizes meant for people far greater than Al Gore will ever hope to be - to people who are quoting statistics that are slanted and still in question and representing them as fact. Please.

Loz, I agree with you whole-heartedly. I'm just not as nice or scientific about it. I think I'm just sick of global warming and if I "deny" it - I am somewhat less than a caring and compassionate human being. It's crap and annoys me to no end.

Loz said...

Hi Supertiff - I'm stretching my memory back to the days when I wrote my thesis on climate change a lifetime ago. Sometime around 10,000-12,000 years ago it is accepted that the last Ice Age, which lasted around 50,000 years ended. We are currently in an interglacial period and around 8000 years ago the average temperature across the Earth was in the range of 2-3 degrees celsius higher than it is today. There is evidence of higher sea levels - 2-4m above what we have today, coral reefs bleached etc. We certainly can't blame human's burning fossil fuels back then so there must have been some other trigger that caused the earth to warm. What we don't know about this current warming is whether it is the increase in CO2 that is contributing, whether there are other factors involved, or indeed whether it is just part of a natural cycle.

We also know that when the Vikings reached Newfoundland that the climate there was warmer than it is today and that probably lasted for a couple of centuries. Then in the 12th century, or thereabouts, we have a period tagged by some as a mini Ice Age when the winters in western Europe were far more severe and lasted longer.

So for me the jury is out. I'm not sure that man has triggered what is happening and I don't know that even if we make massive changes that we can maintain the climate as it is - likelihood is we can't.

Loz said...

Bettejo - I'm not saying Gore is wrong but I agree with you that blind acceptance of anything is not good. It's only when we question and challenge that the truth is revealed.