11 December 2007

"We are what is wrong, and we must make it right."--Al Gore

Nobel Committee salutes global warming campaigners

image of Nobel peace prize medal, from nobelprize.org"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." (From Nobel press release.)

In his award speech today Professor Ole Danbolt Mjøs, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, connected global warming with peace by noting the grave potential threats not only to individual security, but the potential for international and civil strife as the impacts of climate change multiply. "The Norwegian Nobel Committee rarely raises its voice. Our style is largely sober. But it is a long time since the committee was concerned with such fundamental questions as this year," he said.

In his speech to the assembled dignitaries Mr. Gore said, among other things, "Vi som tilhører menneskeslekten står overfor en verdensomspennende krisesituasjon - en trussel mot vår sivilisasjons overlevelse som fortsetter å bygge opp et illevarslende og ødeleggende potensiale mens vi er samlet her. Men det finnes jo også fortrøstningsfulle nyheter: Vi har muligheten til å løse denne krisen og unngå de verste – om enn ikke alle – dens følger hvis vi handler med dristighet, besluttsomt og raskt."

Mr. Gore also said:
We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war. These prior struggles for survival were won when leaders found words at the 11th hour that released a mighty surge of courage, hope and readiness to sacrifice for a protracted and mortal challenge.
These were not comforting and misleading assurances that the threat was not real or imminent; that it would affect others but not ourselves; that ordinary life might be lived even in the presence of extraordinary threat; that Providence could be trusted to do for us what we would not do for ourselves.
No, these were calls to come to the defense of the common future. They were calls upon the courage, generosity and strength of entire peoples, citizens of every class and condition who were ready to stand against the threat once asked to do so. Our enemies in those times calculated that free people would not rise to the challenge; they were, of course, catastrophically wrong.
Now comes the threat of climate crisis – a threat that is real, rising, imminent, and universal. Once again, it is the 11th hour. The penalties for ignoring this challenge are immense and growing, and at some near point would be unsustainable and unrecoverable. For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?
You can read Mr. Gore's speech (in English or Norwegian) here, or even watch a video of it. The speech of Dr. Rajendra K Pachauri, who accepted the prize on behalf of co-winner The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of which he is Chairman, is here.

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