An Inconvenient Winner?

Friday, 12th October 2007 at 10:26 UTC 3 comments

It’s just been announced that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside the UN’s Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change. I’m both happy and saddened by this turn of events, for several reasons. I’m glad because the most senior American politician to actually stick his neck out on the issue has been given some kind of boost, but slightly worried by some other messages being sent out.

Another good point would be the emphasis placed on the Peace aspect of his work: mass migration and resource wars will threaten the now-peaceful lives of many, and continue to deepen the suffering of the worlds poorest. If we don’t solve Climate Change, we could be faced with a nuclear war to control what little land-mass is actually livable. Russia has announced its withdrawal from a key post-Cold War treaty, and coupled with the peak in Fossil Fuel production, it will get very more edgy about its Global status.

If a message needed to be sent to the American populace that they should listen to Gore, perhaps the Nobel stamp of approval will be what it takes. But then, he already has an Oscar to do most of that work for him. Even if people get the fact that an Oscar is for a good film, and a Nobel Peace Prize is for good work, most people even in Britain are more interested in Oscar winners than Peace Prize Laureates.

So we come to some of the negatives. Gore is not without controversy, and is making huge sums of money already from various different corners of the field. I have had people cite this as their reason for being skeptical, and while its absurd to claim that every environmentalist stands to make a financial gain from this turn of events, its true that Gore has interests, some of which are scientifically dodgy, as do many other high profile figures.

He is, of course, an off-sets tout; purveyor of fine smoke screens behind which to hide one’s enormous carbon output. He has not yet begun, nor shows any real signs of beginning, to say clearly that we have to cut energy consumption to a tenth of current levels. He certainly hasn’t cut his own energy consumption levels; the guy flies all over the place.

The IPCC is a good choice in some ways because it has countered US attempts to undermine the process, but whether it can withstand George Bush’s PR moves, such as his recent summit that will undoubtedly weaken the Nairobi conference in December, who knows. But both these two represent attempts to challenge Global warming which have furthered the impression that the entire world revolves around America, legitimizing its claims to world leadership all the more.

This both ignores the huge contribution to global Carbon emissions made by a small number of other countries like China and India, but also it ignores and devalues the many others who are also working tirelessly, for far less reward than people like Gore. It places total emphasis on the need for political change, and very little on the need for drastic economic and social upheaval to avert this impending catastrophe. But perhaps this is the kind of boost which is needed at a time when Bush is already trying to take a lead in fudging the issue, looking good and not really doing anything worth mentioning in real practical action to avert Climate Change.


Entry filed under: Climate Change, Environment, News, Peace, Politics.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve  |  Friday, 12th October 2007 at 12:16 UTC

    Al Gore was also US vice-president during the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia — not exactly peaceful.

  • 2. Graham Martin  |  Friday, 12th October 2007 at 12:40 UTC

    Hmmm, good call, no one else I’ve read/heard on this has pointed that out. Its definitely a concern. Thanks for the pointer.

  • 3. Steve  |  Saturday, 13th October 2007 at 9:50 UTC

    Well, check the Western Confucian’s blog, for one.


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