Friday, October 12, 2007

Well done Al !

If my girlfriend doesn’t have time to read the news she asks me at the end of the day to tell her only about the good things that happened. Today is a day that comes with some real good news and I cannot wait to tell her.

Al Gore, the best president that America never had, and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won the Nobel Peace Price today. I have to admit that I didn’t expect Gore to win the price but I’m nonetheless very delighted about this year's choice of the Norwegian committee.

Even though I’m probably happier about the IPCC winning the price, I have to say that Al Gore deserves it. He has been doing important work in the field of global environmental protection for a long time. For longer than a lot of people would assume. The first time I came across one of his books was in an International Environmental Law seminar in law school in Germany. I was impressed about the vision of this author that I didn’t know.

Al Gore deserves this price. However, I can already hear the right wing starting their attacks on him and the Norwegian committee (it would be very interesting to watch Bill O’Reilly today). Yes, Al Gore lives in a big house in Tennessee. A house that is not energy efficient at all and quite the opposite of what he preaches. And yes, not all the “truths” in his movie are really based on the plain facts and the research that is out there. Nonetheless, and once again: He deserves the price.

He deserves it because he has brought the issue of global warming to the attention of a big general public, not only in America but across the globe. He tried to bring the issue to the attention of people who haven’t read the super important findings of the IPCC Panel this year and people who don’t even know what the IPCC is. I’m sure that the slowly changing attitude of the American general public with respect to global warming and its effects played an important role in the fact that George Bush finally (indirectly) acknowledged the existence of global warming this year.

The Norwegian committee definitely made a political statement with this year’s price, whether it wanted to or not. According to its charter it is not allowed to make any political statement with awarding the Nobel Peace Price. However, I’m glad it did. This is a powerful political message. A message that the leaders of this world will have problems with if they continue arguing the way they do.

The current president has put into perspective the announcements that he made after this year’s G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. After big hopes, especially in Europe, he announced once again in the last weeks that he will not accept anything that will go beyond voluntary measures. Everyone knows voluntary doesn’t work. It never has. It’s like asking people to pay as much taxes as they want. This award for Gore, an American, will hopefully be a burden for Bush in the upcoming global climate talks. It’ll be interesting to see how the world reacts if Bush doesn't commit to more than he proposed in the last weeks. It’ll be even more interesting to see how America reacts if he doesn’t.

I hope that Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Price will be an obligation not only for the American government but also for the American people to do way more than just waiting for those new hybrid cars and all those new technologies that Bush is proposing. It’s more than that. If you have time on your hands go to the IPCC website and read the recent panel reports. Read what they have to say about global warming and its effects in the last century and especially in the last decade. Read what’s at stake. Read why countries like the US, China, Canada, Australia, Spain, and Japan have to change their policies with respect to global warming dramatically. If you think you understood what they found out, do more research. Then ask yourself what you can do and act! Once again: I understand this Nobel Peace Price, awarded to one of your own great people, as an obligation not only to your government but also as an obligation to every single one of you. Environmental protection is no longer only a political issue. It has become a moral one as well.

Today’s news leave me wondering: Should I be sad or happy about the findings of the Supreme Court in 2000. Al Gore as a president wouldn't have had the time to fight for what is so important. On the other hand, I can only imagine what the U.S. would be like today especially with respect to its reputation.

For Al Gore today is a day of delayed gratification. It’s funny how life gives back to people it didn’t treat well in the past. Well done Al!


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