UNITED NATIONS. DID YOU EXPECT VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY TO WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE?

 

DID YOU EXPECT VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY TO WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE?

15 October 2007

When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, the Norwegian Committee Chairman said it was "a kick in the leg" for U.S. President George W. Bush. Now in 2007, the kick has gone a bit higher. Former Vice President Al Gore was President Bush's presidential opponent who lost on a court judgment in Miami.

Former U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neill was known to say that all politics is local. Anyone who doesn't know that the Nobel Prize is politics AND local has not really followed its work. Several Norwegian politicians have begun their international career by a mere hint that they may influence the decision.

The quick appointment of outgoing Humanitarian official Jan Egeland as Special Advisor to Ban Ki-moon with no specific task gave some veteran observers the impression that the new Secretary General was tempted to explore that option; his highlighting of Climate Change as a first priority may have been based on a hint -- though a somewhat late one. Egeland was Foreign Minister when the Nobel Prize was given for the parties to the Middle East Oslo accord.

Back to this year's prize. Vice President Al Gore has been very active in pursuing an old passion. His documentary has received world wide attention, although it contains certain inaccuracies. For example:

  • Polar bears are not drowning for being deprived of ice.
  • Sea levels will not rise by 20 feet as dramatically illustrated. The Committee that shared his Nobel prize, the U.N. Climate Change Panel, predicted 18 INCHES over the next 100 years; it would take more than a MILLENNIUM to reach 20 FEET.
  • The Gulf stream that warms up the Atlantic Ocean would not fade away anytime soon.
  • The carbon trading scheme proposed would only allow big firms to buy the quotas of the smaller countries.

However, the thrust of Mr. Gore's effort is welcome. Climate change is mainly attributable to man-made emissions. Temperatures are likely to continue rising and would cause serious damage if left unchecked; it is possible, and desirable, that governments and individuals can make a positive impact.

Whether that issue is urgently linked to world peace; whether Mr. Gore had done enough to earn the Prize, are questions that go to the politics of the Nobel Committee. One question, in that regard, would be: Did you expect the Nobel Prize to go to Vice President Dick Cheney?