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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Peace in the balance

    Gore laudable, but shouldn’t have won Nobel Prize

    As everyone knows by now, the Nobel Prize Committee announced on Friday the latest recipients of the vaunted Nobel Peace Prize: former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Our first impulse is to applaud the choice. Gore has done impressive work in championing the cause of global warming at a time when all too many Americans – including Gore’s former rival, our current president – are willing to ignore it or dismiss it as a hoax. (The fact that polls invariably find scientists agreeing that global warming is real has no more effect on them than the moon landing had on the Flat Earth Society.)

    But there is something strangely amiss about this choice. Gore has not negotiated an end to any wars. He has not alleviated a famine or exposed any atrocities. He has not made any great strides for human rights.

    What he has done is to raise worldwide awareness – and American awareness in particular – of a dangerous environmental trend. This is certainly worthy and important, but what does it have to do with peace?

    In his will, the Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel asked that a peace prize be awarded in his name “”to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.””

    Giving an awesome global warming slideshow seems like a bit of a stretch. This description perfectly fits former President Jimmy Carter, who has devoted his life to pursuing peace between nations. His Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in 2002, was well deserved.

    It also fits Theodore Roosevelt. When Roosevelt won the prize in 1906, he did not win for his environmental policies, but for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War.

    Don’t get us wrong: the Peace Prize has gone to some undeserving recipients – one thinks of Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat. But it has also gone to countless deserving souls like Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. It shouldn’t be cheapened by being granted lightly.

    The Peace Prize is also unique among the Nobel awards, because unlike the prizes in chemistry and physics, which usually recognize past achievements, it tends to be awarded in recognition of contemporary actions. This makes it a powerful tool that can focus the world’s attention on an important issue related to peace.

    Sure, the argument can be made that worldwide changes like global warming could indirectly stir international conflict, and mitigating this environmental trend might encourage future peace. But surely the committee could have found someone actively promoting a more peaceful world today.

    If anyone deserves the prize for 2007, it is not one individual but many – the brave Buddhist monks of Burma, whose heroic revolt against the cruel military dictatorship that rules their country stunned and riveted the entire world this year. Awarding them the prize would have been a powerful statement against the Burmese tyranny.

    Even though Gore is pushing 60, we can’t escape the feeling that this prize has come much too soon in his career. He’s done good work, but next to giants like Woodrow Wilson, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, it’s an inconvenient truth that Mr. Gore seems like a beginner.

    OPINIONS BOARD: Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Sarah Keeler, Connor Mendenhall and Jerry Simmons.

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