From the Toronto Star
No one would have been surprised to see the United Nations' Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change win a Nobel prize for science. After all, over the past two decades, the panel of top scientists from more than 100 countries has confirmed with steadily increasing certainty the scale of global warming.
But yesterday the panel was awarded the Nobel prize for peace, jointly with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.
The peace prize was the appropriate prize because as Gore said in his reaction to the announcement, "We face a true planetary emergency ... It is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level."
And no one has done more to raise that consciousness than Gore. He has worked tirelessly since making his documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, to publicize the threat of global warming and the supporting body of evidence produced by the UN panel.
As the Nobel committee put it in its citation of Gore, "He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."
The committee skipped over a Canadian nominee for the prize, Inuit leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who was thrilled her nomination drew attention to the impact climate change is having in the Arctic.
While Gore and the UN panel can be proud of their award, the greatest reward they could receive for their efforts is for people everywhere to demand that their politicians give the issue all the attention it deserves. Nowhere is that more important than in the United States.
But that seems to be changing, thanks to Gore. With polls showing a majority of Americans now in favour of government action to prevent a calamitous rise in temperatures, Janet Larsen, research director at the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, says there is a good chance that voters will "not elect anyone to office who does not ... make a firm commitment to do what we need to do to stop global warming."
The Nobel prize is confirmation that Gore and the panel have done their job. Now governments everywhere must start to do theirs.