Have they gone mad?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it happened.
The Nobel Peace Prize 2007 has been awarded to a guy dedicated to telling us how bad we are for the environment, and what disasters we have spelled upon us.

Each year the Nobel Prizes are awarded to people and organizations who have made considerable contributions to their field of expertise.
A total of six prizes is available: Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Literature and Peace.
The first three of them are undisputed, every year the prizes for Medicine, Physics and Chemistry are awarded to people who have definitely made a considerable contribution to their profession. Also, this contribution has been validated and recognized by their peers and the official committee from Danish universities. Also, the laureates have been proposed by their peers, which acts as a great filter for any less important proposals.

The grey area starts with the prize for Economics, where there has been some controversial awarding in the past, and the award is always a little political. The "left" wing, or keynesians argue when the "right" wing of monetary economics get an award, or vice versa. Economists think despite this that, even though the laureate comes from "the other side" the quality of the work is and has been high. The Nobel Prize for Literature often seems to be awarded with regards to other qualities besides the ones named: race, skin color, origination and sex often appear to play a role.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize however is different. The list of laureates brings us to this notion: Palestine rebel leader Yasser Arafat (1994), former president of the USA Jimmy Carter (2002) or even former president of the USA Henry Kissinger (1973).
What have they done for global peace? Arafat who led a pack of Palestine terrorists to fight for their right to use the same land as the Israeli? Or Kissinger who was jointly responsible for the killings of hundreds of thousands Cambodians in 1969 and 1970?

This list is topped by the most recent laureate: environmentalist Al Gore.
He advocates accountable use of our environment to preserve that what is left of our world for future generations. In fact, a very nice goal, although judges in the UK have rules that schoolchildren in the UK must be presented a warning not to believe everything that is being said in Gore’s movie "An Inconvenient Truth". Gore kind of overdoes it with this movie, so to speak.
It holds a (part of a) truth, but exaggerates and dramatizes the facts and possible results. For example: Gore tells us the sea-level will rise 6 or 7 meters when the icecap over Greenland completely melts. This is true, as there are staggering amounts of water being stored there by nature, Gore however fails to tell us that research done by the IPCC reports that the melting would take a considerable time, up to several thousands of years.

The biggest problem of the awarding of Gore might very well be that the entire world now thinks global warming is the biggest threat to our world. Yes, it is a threat that could have considerable implications; it still is not clear whether we have a lot to do with this global warming, or even if global warming is occurring at all.
People tend to forget that there are other, maybe equally important issues to be solved in the world nowadays.
The battle against malaria, or the fact that hundreds of millions of people still don’t have clean, fresh water at their disposal; money spent on the environmental issues like the one described in the Kyoto Protocol could be spent otherwise to resolve these two.

In this light: Al Gore might even be a threat to world peace.
Quite a few conflicts reside around (the lack of) water, and he is diverging our attention to the real problems that have to be solved for us to live peacefully together on our green and blue planet.

3 thoughts on “Have they gone mad?”

  1. I’m not going to extensively comment on this as it’s just drawing me out 🙂

    However, I do have one thing to say: whether or not Al Gore speaks the complete truth is completely irrelevant. Environmental action is completely paralysed by most governments of any importance neglect to do anything until solid proof is given. However, environmental consequences are often unpredictable due to unforeseen (and unforeseeable) threshold after which effects are irreversible, sudden and large. In my opinion, not taking drastic action is playing a poker game with a shaky hand and a very large amount of welfare and well-being at stake, with the best possible outcome being a single pair. Or, in other words: high risk, low reward. I’d rather take the low risk, low reward option.

    Of course, there’s no way either of us can prove their point to the other, as this concerns a matter of principle. Principles are not up for discussion, as they’re not correct or wrong.

  2. Oh, I forgot to make my point why it’s irrelevant whether Al Gore is lying or not. See, in our status quo, governments are paralysed, as I said. Nothing is being done because it’s in direct conflict to most of the factors influencing them. I’m not saying this is a conspiracy or that those groups are purposefully harming the environment or anything; it’s simple economics that investing money in new energy solutions will cost money now and put whomever is doing it at a serious disadvantage compared to others who aren’t investing.

    This need not be a problem if public appreciation of durable investment offsets extra costs, i.e. if people are willing to pay for saving the environment. If they are, this creates movement in companies and governments, as those are generally motivated on a financial or popular basis.

    I don’t care if Gore’s correct or not because I feel we’re playing a poker game with too bad a risk-reward ratio. Lose, and we could well be screwed – see the threshold argument. Win, and we don’t really gain much except maintaining the status quo for a little longer. Gore influences public opinion to move away from this high risk game. That’s a good thing. So whether or not he’s correct is irrelevant to me: the effect is there. His arguments, meh, I don’t take them too seriously. Neither will anyone with some semblence of critical thinking. It’s too obvious.

  3. Maarten Tijhof – Localhost – A long time tinkerer, I'm now seasoned in the art of integration where most of my work has been completed with Oracle middleware. Also, I'm an avid photographer and badminton player and very much like to travel the world!
    Maarten says:

    So true, and yet it bothers and even baffles me he is awarded with this prestigious prize.

    The way I feel it, it is the wrong prize for the (perhaps) right guy.
    I’m trying to question the reasons for him to get the Peace Prize, but I’m really deviating by going into his movie and the issues around it. I have this strange gut feeling it is wrong, I can however not pinpoint why; which would explain my meandering text above.

    I agree with you drastic actions need to be taken to “control” the environment and weather, and thus I cannot see why a Kyoto Protocol would work as research shows it could, going by the most optimistic scheme, only delay any warming by a very short timespan.
    Yes, action should be taken to preserve our planet (and here my environmentalist -or green- side pops up) but I doubt either of the proposed actions result in the desired effect.

    The real question should be: why did he get it? And that question unfortunately can not be answered by looking at the reason given by the Nobel Prize Committee…

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