Saturday, October 13, 2007

Despite Big Honor for Gore, Climate Not Top Issue in U.S.

The headline from the article in the Washington Post by Juliet Eilperin entitled "Despite Big Honor for Gore, Climate Not Top Issue in U.S." says it all. Sure, Gore has "raised awareness", but as Juliet puts it:

In a September Washington Post-ABC News poll, less than 1 percent identified global warming as their top issue for the 2008 presidential campaign, and a January poll by the Pew Research Center ranked it fourth-lowest out of 23 policy priorities that Americans want the president and Congress to address.

Yes, we should all thank the former VP for "raising awareness" of the global warming and climate change political and social issue, but it really is up to the voters to decide how to prioritize issues, not a bunch of over-inflated technocrats.

I'm still a bit baffled that the Nobel Peace Committee made such a wild stretch to consider an environmental campaign under the umbrella of "peace." Of course, even I have to admit that it is more of a political and social movement than an environmental issue and that political and social movements could intersect with "peace." I am well aware that there have been conjectures floated about political frictions that may develop as a consequence of climate change, but they are only conjectures and even then are potentially many years in the future. As I said, this is quite a stretch.

I even consulted the Nobel Peace Committee web site to see what explanation they had to offer, but they only had this thin explanation:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

Indications of changes in the earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds. Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They 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.

Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. 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.

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking 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. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control.

That's it. The most they can offer is that "There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states." Hmmm... "may be increased danger" is a sound basis for a Nobel prize? Oh well.

Somebody is going to have to come up with a stronger and more justified claim in order to arouse the American people to rank global warming and climate change as a higher priority. I wonder if that somebody would get their own Nobel prize, but I doubt that it would happen in my lifetime.

-- Jack Krupansky