What's world peace got to do with global warming? As I wrote today in Salon, perhaps everything. Or it will if things don't change fast-- if, in 10 or 20 or 40 years devastating floods and droughts displace millions of refugees and spur nations and tribes to desperate bloodletting-no one will have the slightest doubt why members of the renowned Scandinavian foundation thought former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was an obvious choice for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is, quite simply, the indispensable player in the drama of mankind's encounter with the possibility of destroying the climactic balance within which our civilization emerged and developed.
In 2004, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai. She is not a general or president. She was founder of the grassroots Green Belt Movement, which planted over 30 million trees across the country, providing jobs, power and education to women in the process. In the Nobel committee's words upon awarding that prize: "Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment."
The committee apparently sees Gore in a similar light, as someone who has spent his life staving off the conflicts by uniting strange bedfellows behind the common cause of protecting humanity's only home.
Gore's co-recipient, the UN's International Panel on Climate Change, sends another message. The Nobel Committee firmly believes that the truth will make you free. Rajendra Pauchauri, the IPCC's chair, was, ironically, the Bush Administration's pick for the job. The White House assumed that scientists were political creatures, and that Pauchauri would prove malleable and compliant. Instead, Pauchauri has emerged as a powerful independent voice in defense of scientific integrity -- a voice all the more important for hailing from the developing world.
In the 20th Century peace was something to be achieved after the horrifying bloodletting began. In the 21st Century, peace must be about identifying and resolving the sources of conflict before battles break out. That's why no one deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than Al Gore.
To read more of my thoughts on the subject, please visit our good friends at Salon.com. And heartfelt congratulations to Al Gore and the IPCC on receiving what is surely among the world's utmost honors.