(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES – Apparently Nobel Peace Prize winners no longer need to meet any of the qualifications for the award.
Or at least that’s what I gathered from Al Gore, in conjunction with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), receiving a Nobel Peace Prize — an award he clearly does not deserve.
According to the Nobel Prize Web site, the prize was established in 1901 in the will of Alfred Nobel, who bequeathed the bulk of his wealth to funding five awards — for peace, physics, chemistry, literature and medicine.
In his will, Nobel described the qualifications of potential peace prize winners as those who do “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.”
Past winners have included former President Jimmy Carter, who met the above requirements by establishing the Carter Center, which advocates for democracy, human rights and has a conflict resolution center.
In contrast, Gore made a slick feature documentary film, founded the Alliance for Climate Protection, which advises people to combat global warming by riding their bikes or taking the bus, and makes a lot of PowerPoint presentations.
None of this has increased harmony between different countries, abolished standing armies, nor has it encouraged nations to join together to discuss peace.
I sympathize with the committee’s intentions. Global climate change could, in fact, have a profoundly negative impact on worldwide peace.
For instance, in June, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named global warming, drought, specifically, to be one of the underlying causes of the conflict in Darfur.
For argument’s sake, I will not engage in a debate about whether or not global warming is in fact a result of human carbon dioxide emissions.
Assuming that it is true, what has Gore done to effectively combat this change?
Making “An Inconvenient Truth” or asking people to risk their lives weaving through L.A. traffic on a bicycle have not had any impact on a global phenomenon.
If anyone deserves such an award, it is the leaders of the industrialized nations who came together this summer to agree to make drastic reductions in their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. Such gatherings do far more to promote cooperation among nations than Gore’s personal advocacy.
Furthermore, the committee’s endorsement of Gore’s work also serves as an endorsement of what I believe is his fondness for misrepresenting factual information.
In his film, Gore predicts that sea level could rise up to 20 feet world-wide in a very short amount of time.
Yet the same panel who won the Nobel Prize alongside him, the IPCC, estimated that sea level would rise a maximum of 23 inches within the next century.
In an interview with Grist.org, an environmental news and commentary Web site, Gore stated, “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations” in order to get people’s attention.
It seems, then, that Gore is more concerned with publicity than peace.
Finally, one of the greatest goals of the Nobel Prize is to give recognition to causes that may be overlooked by the media and popular culture.
It is difficult to argue that Gore’s advocacy does not receive enough media attention or that his million-dollar fortune is not enough to fund his causes.
It would be more worthwhile to shine the spotlight on and give a $1.5 million prize to a cause that genuinely deserves and lacks public support and funding.
Simply scanning this week’s headlines reveals more appropriate candidates, such as the Buddhist monks in Burma being beaten and killed because of their pro-democracy demonstrations.
I’m sure they could use the recognition and funds far more than Gore.
Or if the committee had to go with a celebrity, why not Angelina Jolie? Not only is she valiantly working to recreate something akin to the set of “It’s a Small World” in her own home, she has also co-founded the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, a group dedicated to educating and assisting children afflicted by armed conflicts.
If the Nobel committees wish to maintain their influence, they must take their responsibility of finding appropriate award recipients more seriously.
Otherwise, they will follow in the footsteps of Time magazine and find that their award is so worthless that they can just give it to everyone.