Emmy, Oscar, Nobel (?!)

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Former Vice President Al Gore is now a Nobel Prize winner.

Former Vice President Al Gore is now a Nobel Prize winner. Source: Tony Avelar/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Tony Avelar/AFP/Getty Images

If you take a look at the long list of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, you'll find an impressive array of presidents and secretaries of state. In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt, a president and "collaborator of various peace treaties," won the award. Thirteen years later, the Norwegian Nobel Committee bestowed the honor on Woodrow Wilson. George Marshall is on there, as are Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Kissinger, and Jimmy Carter. Last week, the Committee added another name to the roster: Al Gore, who will share this year's Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "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." To some people, including Jan Oberg, who directs the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Gore's name stands out. According to Alfred Nobel's will, the Peace Prize is for "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." The former vice president didn't negotiate a major treaty, broker a peace deal, or head a humanitarian organization. What do you think? Does he deserve the award?

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Why is it so unreasonable for a peace prize to be awarded to someone for addressing underlying causes of war, rather than simply defusing an already developed conflict? Certainly both are important.

Sent by Zach | 2:44 PM | 10-16-2007

Climate Change affects our ability to produce enough food/water for a growing population and will increase the disparity between those who have and those who don't. This will increase the potential for violence and war. Working to reduce our impact to the planet and our ability to live with it will help reduce the chance for war and violence. Working indirectly, Gore publicizing of this issue to the masses with benefit of vis a vis peace.

Sent by Matt Bryner | 2:46 PM | 10-16-2007

Naming Kissinger was considerably more a "mockery" than naming Gore, whose work raising awareness of global warming has shifted US public opinion toward ratifying the Kyoto Accords, the most important peace treaty of our time.

Sent by Steve Runge | 2:47 PM | 10-16-2007

Gore did NOT win an oscar. Please stop promulgating that lie.

Sent by Anna Lyon | 2:47 PM | 10-16-2007

I just heard Jan Oberg claim that the Nobel committee was not making a connection between peace and work for climate change, but this is the text from the Nobel's press release:

"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."

Sent by Steve Runge | 2:53 PM | 10-16-2007

Although I don't believe Mr. Gore made the connection in this way, I do believe that the climate crisis may turn out to be the ultimate peacmaker. When mankind is pushed to the limit to survive the consequences of the climate mess we will hardly have time to fight each other.

Sent by Kurt Schuldhauer | 2:54 PM | 10-16-2007

Jan Oberg view that seems to be very narrow focus on peace prize. Saving the planet from a global environmental crisis which affects all nations seems to be within the scope of Nobel Peace Prize perview.

Sent by Gary of Kansas City | 2:56 PM | 10-16-2007

Even though Gore has been involved with the violent acts that occured while he was vice-president, isn't in the spirit of the Noble Peace prize that you can atone for past acts with future endeavors, like Noble did when he created the prize after providing explosives to most of the world.

Sent by Tom Keyser | 2:58 PM | 10-16-2007

The gentleman opposing Al Gore's prize should reference to the citation from the 'Nobel Peace Prize Committee' on their reason to give the prize to Al Gore. That speaks for itself.

Sent by E. Michael Eziri | 2:58 PM | 10-16-2007

Read Bjorn Lomberg's "Cool It!" for an intelligent and realistic approach to the econmic and "climate problems" of the world. As for Gore, his home has a larger "Carbon Footprint" than many a small city! Live the walk and stop the talk!

Sent by Anna Lyon | 3:02 PM | 10-16-2007

I believe that Alfred Nobel would have realized that times change and that the parameters for awarding the Prize also would change. He (in my opinion) would expect decisions to be made in the spirit and not the letter of the "law" (i.e., his wishes).

Sent by Lynne Foster | 3:07 PM | 10-16-2007

This past summer, our family visited Alaska. If you live near the arctic, then the effects of global warming are so obvious that I think you could easily extrapolate that it is an attack on your lifestyle, your culture and country. For Norway, being a northern, heavily glaciated country, awarding the peace prize was probably a slam dunk. It has probably been quite some time since the peace prize has been awarded for something which relates so directly to the Norwegians themselves.

Sent by Michael Pon | 3:28 PM | 10-16-2007

Its no secret that many of the prizes for the Nobel has been politicized in recent years. And that goes for all of the Nobel categories. Even so, the award to Gore is still quite a stretch, and will ultimately reduce the influence of the Nobel prize for future winners.

Sent by Charles | 3:29 PM | 10-16-2007

Perhaps we have not reached the crisis of climate change. If we had, and the world was warring over the scarcity of such resources as food and clean water, there would be no debate. What Al Gore has accomplished in seeking to prevent such an outcome is indeed the epitome of peace.

Sent by Rachel Hallinan | 3:50 PM | 10-16-2007

Picking up on Zack's comment, the curtailment of GW most certainly will stem future violence as adversity will be avoided and competion resulting will not occur. Addtionally, the effort to do the curtailing will require collaboration and that too will avoid violence. Yes, even on the basis of Albert Nobel's qualifying criteria, Gore is deserving.

Sent by David LaRoche | 3:56 PM | 10-16-2007

Climate change will lead to Resource conflicts over water, land, and food. Solving and mitigating climate change will lessen these conflicts. Al Gore is the leading politician pointing the way to solving and mitigating climate change. He and the IPCC deserve the award, case closed.

Sent by Bill | 5:08 PM | 10-16-2007

I would have been opposed to awarding the Nobel prize to Mr. Gore on multiple grounds, if I had been part of the Nobel peace prize committee.

Awareness of global climate change, which Mr. Gore has championed so vigorously, has been equated to global climate _worsening_ when there is considerable evidence that it may be global climate _improvement_ for many more people and the environments in which they live and travel, and for uninhabited environments. The changes are viewed from the viewpoint of only a small minority of inhabitants of coastal regions, even if one considers economic impacts of coastal-based commerce on inland dwellers. Much more land will be favorable for agriculture, as well as for wilderness growth and vegetation if earth temperatures rise. There is no good evidence that weather changes will be more unpredictable or more unfavorable to countless species, humans included... than during any other period of recorded earth history.

Additionally, the Gore approach to climate change is based predominantly on curbing or restricting human behaviors. History has shown that violent revolution and military conflict is the usual response to increasing curbs and restrictions on human behaviors.

Finally, there has been little or no emphasis on peaceful _adaptation_ to climate change. Life will be better for many more people and other forms of life, a century forward, regardless of climate change - - unless your definition of better is that life in 2107 is only better if it more closely ressembles life in 1997 than it ressembles life in 2097.

2007 appears to me to have been NOT a very good year for peace and peacemakers. The Nobel Peace Prize committee could have sent a better message to all who yearn for peace by not awarding the prize this year.

Rex Bickers
Floyds Knobs, Indiana

Sent by Rex Bickers | 6:30 PM | 10-16-2007

The Eleventh Hour was harder hitting then IT. Even more hard hitting is Earthlings, a film about what humans do to the "farmed" animals they gorge on, fattened by 70% of harvested crops. Al Gore never mentiones the livestock sector, a disease in the very ideology that reduces sentient animals to products and places their body parts in cans, boxes, and shipping containers!
Animal agribusiness contributes more carbon and methane then the entire transportation sector. Animal fecal matter and urine, tainted by 50% of antibiotics made that are used in the production of animals who live in such filth, they are needed to stave off disease(and so we reap resistance in our own bodies), poisons water, land, air. The system of global agribusiness is obscene and as perverted as the money that feeds it.
If the political system were moral and just, our world would not sinking into the waste lagoons of war and violence because CODEX wants to control food, and Suez wants to control water, and global elite bankers want to control the military used as pawns in the war on terror, a war on dissent of this diabolic abusive system born of slavery, starting with animals.
www.powerfulbook.com
In the last year of listening to NPR, the repetitive spin of war mongering, fear tactics, and corporate commercialism called news, TOTN, today, actually had a very good discussion. Thanks Mr. Oberg! You are very wise and should run for president.
We need a leader who tinks with their heart, not their might.

Sent by Laura Slitt | 8:50 PM | 10-16-2007

It is patently ridiculous to assert that it is inappropriate to award a Nobel Peace Prize for effort to stop pollution and use resources wisely.
No matter what the purported reason for wars and other forms of human conflict, they are REALLY almost all about resources. If we continue destroy our atmosphere and aquasphere, resources will be more and more scarce and consequently there will be more and more wars.
The only way fossil fuels can be alleged to be more economical than wind, solar, tide, wave and other forms of water power is by ignoring the environmental and health costs of using the air we all must breath and the water we all must use as cost-free sewers.
Besides global climate change, let's not forget the other damage done by burning fossil fuels: mercury poisoning, acid rain, smog, lung diseases, etc., etc. There are SOME uses for which only petroleum is suitable. Energy production is NOT one of them.

Sent by Bil McDavid, Idaho | 12:14 AM | 10-17-2007

IMHO, the Nobel Peace Price has long beem more of a superficial attractiveness of excellence (e.g., an Oscar) than recognizing a profound individual. This isn't the first time its recipient's worthiness has been disputed, and it won't be the last. It's ironic that an award given for peace sparks such controversy.

I've always thought that the peaceful act itself IS the reward - recognizing the individual overshadows the importance of the act.

Sent by Langston Montgomery | 4:39 AM | 10-17-2007

In my opinion Al Gore was a wrong choice. He maybe would have deserved An Environment Prize, but not Nobel`s PEACE Prize. He, among other things, supported strict sanctions against Iraq which caused death of a million of Iraqis.
There would have been better candidates for the Peace Prize like for example The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) which director is Jan Oberg. This Foundation has unselfishly worked for peace with passion for since 1986. Another excellent candidate instead of Gore would have been the Norwegian Peace Researcher Johan Galtung. He has worked for peace and dialogue all his life.
Or, why not give the Prize to Mordechai Vanunu who exposed to the whole world that Israel has nuclear weapons. For that Vanunu paid a high price and sat 18 years in prison.

Riitta Heinonen
Vantaa, Finland

Sent by Riitta Heinonen | 6:08 AM | 10-17-2007

To place Al Gore in the same category as Doctors Without Borders, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and the 14th Dalai Lama devalues any peaceful notions the PEACE prize may have enjoyed in the past.

Sent by Rob Rogers | 9:54 AM | 10-17-2007

It all sounds like sour grapes to me. The committee's announcement clearly stated why Al Gore was awarded the Peace Prize. Jan Oberg and the other detractors are clearly looking for something, anything, to deny the legitimacy of the award. When asked if he would approve it if only the foundation was being honored, Mr. Oberg seemed nonplussed. His insistence that only someone working for "world peace" should be honored reminds me of the sad history of the planned 1915 Peace Conference canceled due to the World War One. Facing up to and dealing with climate change could legitimately be a way to avoid World War Three.

Sent by JKB | 10:13 AM | 10-17-2007

"There would have been better candidates for the Peace Prize like for example The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF) which director is Jan Oberg."
Gosh, would that be the very same Jan Oberg of the TFF who spent his time on the air whining about Gore getting the Nobel (instead of him)?

Sent by Marc Naimark | 12:17 PM | 10-17-2007

Al Gore absolutely deserved the Peace Prize - the connection between climate changes and future conflicts cannot be dismissed! This is an issue that dwarfs other concerns at this time in our history. Gore's past is a of little relevance here. Jan Oberg is too fixated on his distaste for American politics.

Sent by Per A. Aannestad | 1:00 PM | 10-17-2007

The "currency" of this award is what puts me off. The other Nobel categories recognize career-long work, often being awarded decades after the foundational work was done. The Peace Prize seems much more of-the-moment, and therefore seems to have less weight than something called a Nobel should have.

Sent by Michael Deutsch | 4:29 PM | 10-17-2007

I'm definitely not astonished, because the true criminals have almost always the privilege to such prizes. And I'm definitely talking about a person who refuses to recognize the human freedom, so the question is why should he care about "Nature" which could stand in harmony with human welbeing or welfare?

Sent by Fardin | 5:49 PM | 10-17-2007

Let's assume that we accept the notion that someone who draws attention to the environmental crisis deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. In that case, shouldn't probably dozens of people and organizations who have worked longer, harder and consistently on the that issue deserve it more than Mr. Gore? Not to speak, of course, of Mr. Gore's
political background and ideas expressed in his public life. They do not exactly add up to peace work.

Sent by Susana | 7:12 PM | 10-17-2007

As far as I'm concerned, the Nobel Peace Prize lost all of its credibility the day they put it into the bloody hands of Menachem Begin, who, as leader of the Irgun ordered the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946.

Begin's terrorists slaughtered 91 human beings in that cowardly attack. Some "man of peace".

Sent by Bill King | 1:46 PM | 10-18-2007

I think the controversy over Al Gore's Nobel Prize has taken a much to narrow view of peace. I don't believe that peace is simply the absence of conflict but the promotion of well-being of all humanity. The effort to end conflict and to promote well-being are closely linked. After all, if you are working together it is much hard to fight. Although this may not have been Al Gore's immediate goal, he has focused the attention and effort of people and governments on a problem that none can solve alone, and yet affects everyone. This is just one of a class of such problems such as clean water, terrorism, organized crime, pandemics and world health, and sustainable growth. What Al Gore has been able to do is to raise awareness to a level where one of these problems can be addressed. If this could be done for more of these problems think of what it would mean for global cooperation and peace.

Sent by Art | 5:04 PM | 10-19-2007

In his article and in the NPR interview Mr Oberg makes the statement that the Nobel Committee failed to make any link between important work on global environmental issues and the prospects for future violence or war. Did he read the press release that accompanied the announcement of the prize? If not, then he must be yet another example of a "shoot from the hip" pundit. If he did read the release, then he is saying something that he knows to be untrue. Here is what the Nobel Peace Prize Committee wrote: "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."

Sent by Roger | 7:25 PM | 10-22-2007