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.