As It Turns Out

Al Gore will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December “for raising awareness about global warming through his books, lecture tours and the Oscar-winning film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ ” Gore shares the honors with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The prize is just the latest for Gore this year, coming after two Academy Awards for his documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” a number 1 New York Times bestseller slot for his latest book “Assault on Reason,” and an Emmy for his cable network Current TV. Gore’s no newcomer to climate change; he was one of the first politicians to call attention to global warming as a young Tennessee congressman. Since then, Gore has managed to translate the science of climate change into a language the world can understand.

IPPC was chosen by the Nobel committee to share the prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” IPCC has more than 2,500 science expert reviewers from more than 130 countries, and was established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations – one environmental and one meteorological.

After six years of research, IPPC’s 2007 reports state that the earth is in fact warming and that human activity has very likely caused the warming since industrialization. Mitigation is predicted to be very low in cost, high in feasibility, but needs to be done before the problem gets out of hand.

The Nobel committee specifically links climate change to peace because of rising “tensions over ever scarcer resources caused by more floods, droughts, desertification and rising seas.” If not addressed in the near future, climate change could “unleash massive migrations, violent competitions for resources and, ultimately, threaten the ‘security of mankind.’” (Source: New York Times)

“Look at Iraq, Darfur or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ... 21st-century conflicts seldom feature stable governments colliding, but rather collapsing societies attacking themselves. These are much harder to solve with diplomacy or peacekeeping troops. Prevention is the key.”

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, adds, “A quick list of trouble spots that climate chaos could ignite would include: Sudan and Darfur, where the ongoing violence, fueled by drought and destitution, might be described as the world’s first global-warming civil war; South Asia, where India, China and Pakistan might well go to war over the shrinking snow melt from the Tibetan Plateau; eastern Mediterranean, where Syria, Iraq and Turkey contest the Euphrates; the Chinese-Soviet border, where the loss of agricultural lands could force even more of the Chinese population north of the Amur; the gradually drying region around the Aral Sea Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan; and even Canada, Norway and the Soviet Union whose governments are beginning to make bellicose noises about control of the suddenly ice-free Arctic.”

What we need now are leaders who are unafraid to face the challenge of hard choices – leaders who will join with others around the world in a concerted effort to solve the problem, not ignore it. Together we can solve it and provide our children a world they will want to pass on to their children.

Contact Marylin Olds at monsoonbooks@tscnet.com.

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