With the constant tide of depressing, alarming, and just plain bizarre news always lapping at our shoes, it’s a comfort to know that there is indeed still some justice and sanity remaining in the world.
Al Gore, dogged and indefatigable warrior for climate righteousness, Former-Next-President-of-the-United-States, and Natural Patriot extraordinaire, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
As most readers will know by now, the FNPUS shared this honor with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the unprecedented global coalition of scientists that devoted years of their lives to collecting, analyzing, and exhaustively vetting the complex and obscure scientific data on climate change necessary to hammer out a series of scientific consensus statements on the state of what we do and don’t know about global climate and how it’s changing.
Dave Roberts at Grist has captured, with characteristic wit and dead-on accuracy, the depressing inability of the mainstream American media to grasp the real significance of this historic event, which has to do not with the obsessive issue of whether he cares to run for President or not, and what the Prize might mean for his chances or not. No, the significance of Gore’s receipt of the Nobel is the recognition of something utterly unique in the recent history of American politics — one man’s long-term, single-minded, crusade (if I may use that charged word) to bring a huge, complex, profound, long-term (and hence politically suicidal) problem to the front burner of an American public drugged into indulgent complacency by years of politicians who get elected by promising that all problems can be solved with bigger guns and lower taxes.
In the rest of the world, the award was cause for celebration (from the Washington Post):
“John Ashton, Britain’s special representative for climate change, said the award signals that the international community has ‘crossed a threshold’ when it comes to global warming. ‘The international community now understands this is not only an environmental challenge like other environmental challenges, it is a fundamental challenge to international peace and security,’ he said in an interview. Reaction in Europe, where the Bush administration has been seen as resistant to addressing the warming issue, was strongly positive among politicians across the ideological spectrum. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Gore “inspirational.” [Conservative] French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was happy that “a great American used his position to set an example.” European Commission President Jos¿ Manuel Barroso said he hoped Gore’s honor would encourage world leaders to ‘approach this challenge even more swiftly and decisively.'”
Meanwhile, back home in the US of A, our current president’s staff could manage only this: “Obviously it’s an important recognition, and we’re sure the vice president is thrilled.” Presumably he meant Gore, rather than Dick Cheney, who it is impossible to imagine being thrilled at this news. Conservatives are predictably fuming. What does this have to do with peace? Well, here is what the Nobel committee said:
“By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control.”
Evidently, American military brass has similar fears about implications of climate change for national security. Given how close Al came to being the leader of the Free World (and let’s not rehash that now . . .), one might be forgiven for speculating wistfully at how different the landscape of environmental politics and policy might look today had the American people’s undisputed choice for President been allowed to assume that office in 2000.
But perhaps it’s all for the better. As Roberts emphasizes and Gore himself has alluded in previous speeches, he can probably accomplish more in his present role as self-appointed world ambassador for sane environmental policy than he could within the confines of the American Presidency, with its perverse habit of forcing the best and brightest statesmen we can produce to fritter away their precious energy arguing about whether this or that brain-dead person should have her feeding tube pulled after a video diagnosis on the Senate floor, whether he believes in fairy tales, whether consenting adults should be prevented from living together in peace because of someone else’s fairy tales, etc. Who needs that? Not Al Gore, evidently. He has more important fish to fry.
So I say: “Hail to the Chief!”