Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., former congressman and former vice president and almost president of the United States, as he likes to quip, awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on October 12th. This season there were some 181 candidates for the prize, but Al Gore shared “it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists.” Here is a comprehensive list of all Nobel Prize winners and as one can see by this list that Gore is in lofty company then and now. Not only was he in competition this year with nearly 200 other applicants—he prevailed.
It seemed odd, at first hearing, almost a netroots rumor that he was nominated, unbelievable.
Unbelievable, that Gore's "green" message of human-caused global warming gets a ginormous green light, almost global beacon, to illuminate dark corners and aid those who wish to erase their carbon footprint in the world, thanks to the Nobel Prize committee. Unbelievable, because I thought that the Peace prize was more about peace [stopping wars] and less about the personality behind the truth, more about those who foster peace in the world, inlcuding in every aspect of their public lives. Unbelieveable, because I thought courage a prerequisite to the prize, and Gore did exhibit it by standing up to derision and scorn while staying on message. Unbelievable–yes, and no. Thus, with this win I am inclined to believe that the Swedish committee got it right, but did they?
"Such an award would fall under the expanded concept of peace but the activity can be linked to the climate-conflict combination and is highly timely," said NRK veteran journalist Geir Helljesen who has a solid record of tipping prize winners."
It seems that they too had something to gain, wanted to get on the bandwagon or both. The above statement confirms what I thought must be a new definition or an expanded category for “peace.” The Committee has therefore preempted its own criticism by choosing Gore. Not only has the confines of the prize been expanded but it also gives thought, and new meaning, to its own "reputation," another surprise.
By and large, however, the Norwegian Nobel Committee's selections have contributed steadily to enhancing the reputation of the Peace Prize. Some names of course stand out more than others: Woodrow Wilson (1919), Fridtjof Nansen (1922), Carl von Ossietzky (1935), Albert Schweitzer (1952), Dag Hammarskjõld (1961), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1964), Andrei Sakharov (1975), Mother Teresa (1979), Mikhail Gorbachev (1990), and Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk (1993). Nansen is one of two Norwegians to receive the Prize. The other is Christian Lange (1921). That the Committee is from a small country and has so rarely rewarded its own countrymen has probably also contributed to the high international status of the Prize.
Interesting choice of words by Gier Lundestad, secretary of the committee, who wrote that "the reputation" of the prize will be enhanced by awarding it to great people. So, in choosing Al Gore, Jr., this peace prize committee (there are over 100 other lesser known ones according to this article) is vindicated in its final choice of style over substance.
While this may be the most prestigious peace prize, is it omnipotent? What exactly are its limits on world influence and peace provocation worldwide?
Lundestad cites an example of its limitations: "The Peace Prize to Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991 is a good example of what the Prize can contribute and of its limitations." Not only was she not removed from house arrest, but this summer protesting and tear-gassed Burma's Buddhist monks, and its people, have taken to the streets to protest the "repressive military junta." By contrast, there has been recent pro-junta support. However, I would like to think that the 1991 prize emboldened the Burmese monks and people, who supported the much-respected monks. In other words, sometimes things get worse before they get better.
What a contrast between 1991 and 2007's winners: This year's winner is 16 years later. This year's winner is a former vice president, and almost-president. This year's winner is Mr. Al Gore, the "Goracle." This year's winner has an Oscar for his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth created from a Power Point presentation. Gore said he dusted it off at the insistence of his wife, during an at-home interview, based on his best-selling book by the same name. This year's winner is a big deal. And in breaking news, is not without parental protest. Expectations were in line that he was poised to win! Expectations and life breathed into hope that he would, with prize in hand, announce at the podium his candidacy for president. That did not happen, nor is it a likely event. What else can one say but "congratulations" for work well done and well received?
Finally, what possible outcomes from this prize might we witness? Here are five:
- White light shined on "green" issue
- Tsunami of effort by regular people to understand "global warming" that its message will be taught as well as caught.
- Global warming will get worse before it gets better.
- Individual control over carbon footprints (as meme) will increase to critical mass.
- Nobel Peace Prize enjoys increased prominence and importance.