The Nobel Committee is out of their element. And the decision to award this year’s peace prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is, in my opinion, off the mark.
Mixing the climate debate into one about peace and security seems flawed, and an imbalanced priority. Many other causes seem much more worthwhile. What about the Burmese monks, for instance? The Nobel Committee states that they are “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.”
The connection between climate and security is tentative, at best. Environmentalists (including Gore) talk very rarely of security issues. Even if we assume that human activity contributes partly to global warming, we cannot know if anything we do now can change that. The climate has never been stable, and an attempt to roll back the Earth to a perfect state – i.e., the way things were 200 years ago (!) – seems naïve.
The climate debate seriously needs more perspective, and more people like Bjørn Lomborg (incidentally, my old lecturer in statistics) who dare say: We probably can’t make the world perfect, so if we have to choose, where do our efforts make most of a difference? If the climate is indeed changing, we should rather be working to adapt to these changes – who are we to control the weather?
Nobel Prizes have been controversial before, of course. Awarding it to Jimmy Carter in 2002 for his work for peaceful solutions to international conflicts was arguably a slap in the face for George W. Bush and his policies.
This year’s peace prize has nothing to do with peace. Al Gore is a politician, pursuing a certain cause vigorously. Which is all fine – but the Nobel Committee aught to know better than play along on the whim of the moment. They should stick to their cause: promoting peace, freedom, liberty and justice for all. Those truths are still self-evident – and still all too inconvenient.