Photographer: Stephanie Kuykendal/Bloomberg News Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore speaks at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium in Washington, on May 29, 2007.
Al Gore, U.N. Climate Panel Win Peace Prize
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and a United Nations panel on the environment won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about the threat of climate change.
Gore, 59, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were honored for ``their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change,'' said Ole Danbolt Mjoes, director of the Oslo-based Nobel Committee that picks the winner.
The peace prize tops off a year of accolades for Gore, marking a turnaround that some say makes him ``the comeback kid,'' a moniker typically associated with his former boss, Bill Clinton. The former vice president last year published the book and released the Oscar-winning documentary film ``An Inconvenient Truth'' as part of a campaign against global warming.
India's Rajendra Pachauri, 67, is chairman of the IPCC, which was set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program in 1988. The group has about 2,500 scientists whose mandate is to assess ``scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change.''
``I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize,'' Gore said in an e-mailed statement. ``We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.''
The prize is ``a recognition of the contribution of the scientific world,'' Pachauri told reporters today in New Delhi.
The IPCC said in a report in February that the probability that humans are causing global warming is 90 percent, and world temperatures and sea-levels will increase by the end of the century. The Bush administration said the human role in climate change is ``no longer up for debate'' following the report.
``There are already climate wars unfolding and the worst area for that is the Sahel belt in Africa,'' Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, told reporters in Oslo on Sept. 28. ``Nomads fight pastoral farmers because there is less land available, because of long-term climate change.''
``Clearly we are endangering all species on earth, we are endangering the future of the human race,'' Pachauri said in an interview earlier this year. ``We are probably beyond the stage where we could have called it urgent. I would say it is immediate,'' he said, referring to the need for governments to reduce emissions.
Scientists have said global warming caused by manmade emissions is responsible for melting glaciers and ice sheets, and increased instances of storms, droughts and floods. Over this century, those effects may be magnified, according to the February report.
``The consequences of inaction will be devastating to both the environment and the economy,'' Gore told the U.S. Congress at a special climate change hearing this year.
Gore, vice president from 1993 until 2001, drew an audience of an estimated 2 billion people on July 7 with Live Earth, a single day of concerts on seven continents aimed at promoting awareness of what he terms a ``climate crisis.''
The New York Times
Even before Mr. Gore won an Emmy for his so-called “user generated” cable television network, Current, or an Oscar for his film on climate change, “An Inconvenient Truth,” he was growing in stature for another reason: his early opposition to the Iraq war.
He had initially voiced it in 2002 in an address that his newly galvanized supporters now describe as uncannily prescient and unfairly dismissed, though it was seen as a politically off-kilter at a time of great popularity for President George W. Bush.
The awarding of the Nobel Prize to him was certain to further intensify calls for him to enter the Democratic nominating contest for president. The rumors that he would win it had already helped a grassroots movement to draft him into the race raise tens of thousands of dollars for advertisements.
Mr. Gore’s aides, and, on one or two occasions, Mr. Gore himself, have said he is not interested in running for president when his main goal has been raising public awareness of global climate change and man’s role in it. But they have been coy, refusing to absolutely say “no,” and, in the process, giving the various groups now dedicated to drafting him into the race reason to continue their efforts.
Associates of Mr. Gore, however, have said they truly believe he does not want to run but speculate that he does not have reason to tamp down the presidential talk when it serves to keep the focus on him and causes he is pursuing with a perceptibly pure heart — a perception that could change with a presidential run.
“You never say never in politics but I think he’s having such a big impact on the issues that he cares about that if he decided to run for president he would just be viewed in a fundamentally different way,” said Chris Lehane, a former aide and spokesman for Mr. Gore’s 2000 campaign. “Once you become a candidate for president then you have a completely different lens.”
Yet Mr. Gore’s newly charged supporters hope that the Nobel Prize will now cause him to make another attempt to win the prize they believe is rightly his — the White House.
The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Democrat Al Gore on Friday increases pressure on him to launch a late bid for the U.S. presidency, but advisers say he is showing no signs of interest in the 2008 race.
An organization called draftgore.com is one of several trying to persuade Gore to run. The group ran a full-page ad in The New York Times on Wednesday described as "an open letter to Al Gore."
"Many good and caring candidates are contending for the Democratic nomination," the ad said. "But none of them has the combination of experience, vision, standing in the world, and political courage that you would bring to the job."
Once considered a wooden speaker, he now is a pop culture icon, and happily engaged in a life that includes many speaking engagements about climate change, positions on corporate boards and much travel.
'LIGHT BULBS, NOT POLITICS'
At a time when the United States is preoccupied with the most wide-open presidential race in more than 50 years, former aides like Julia Payne say he does not talk much about politics, recalling that she saw him at the wedding in Nashville of a former staffer.
"The last time I talked with the Vice President, we talked light bulbs, not politics," she said.
Long-time adviser Carter Eskew said he talks to Gore about once a week.
"I don't think he's going to run," said Eskew. "He has said technically he hasn't ruled it out. But I can tell you he's making no moves and no sounds to indicate to me that he's going to run."
Gore's spokeswoman, Kalee Kreider, was more definitive.
"He has no intentions of running for president in 2008," she said recently from Nashville, where Gore lives.
But that is not stopping the draft Gore movement.
Peter Ryder is an activist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, trying to persuade Gore to run. His group, Algore.org, is planning a Nov. 11 concert to raise money for the effort.
He said none of the other Democrats running in the race for the November 2008 election have the complete package like Gore.
"I think we need more than just a good president. I think we need someone with the potential for greatness. Al Gore, his rational approach to issues and problems, and obviously his work on global warming, made my decision to support him," Ryder said.
A West Virginia activist, Jim Tate, agreed. He said he was concerned that the current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, could be defeated by the Republican nominee because "she carries a lot of baggage with her."
He said he also believes Gore is the person who can "do the most for our country, and bring back foreign policy. We have no foreign policy."
He doesn't run.
It's always flattering to be asked.
I genuinely don't think he wants it. Which of course, would probably make him a great President. But I don't think he runs.
Congratulations Mr. Vice President. Congratulations U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
PS. Stuff you didn't know about the Nobel Prize.