Thursday, 18 October 2007

An inconvenient peace prize

Reposted from:

Björn Lomborg

While the IPCC painstakingly establishes what the world should expect from climate change, Al Gore only tells us what to fear.

October 12, 2007 3:36 PM

This year's Nobel peace prize justly rewards the thousands of scientists of the United Nations climate change panel (the IPCC). These scientists are engaged in excellent, painstaking work that establishes exactly what the world should expect from climate change.

The other award winner, former US vice-president Al Gore, has spent much more time telling us what to fear. While the IPCC's estimates and conclusions are grounded in careful study, Gore doesn't seem to be similarly restrained.

Gore told the world in his Academy Award-winning movie (recently labelled "one-sided" and containing "scientific errors" by a British judge) to expect 20-foot sea-level rises over this century. But his Nobel co-winners, the IPCC, conclude that sea levels will rise between only a half-foot and two feet over this century, with their best expectation being about one foot - similar to what the world experienced over the past 150 years.

Likewise, Gore agonises over the accelerated melting of ice in Greenland, but overlooks the IPCC's conclusion that, if sustained, the current rate of melting would add just three inches to the sea level rise by the end of the century. Gore also takes no notice of research showing that Greenland's temperatures were higher in 1941 than they are today.

Gore also frets over a predicted rise in heat-related deaths, without mentioning that rising temperatures will reduce the number of cold spells, which are a much bigger killer than heat. The best study shows that by 2050, heat will claim 400,000 more lives, but 1.8 million fewer will die because of cold. Indeed, global warming will actually save lives.

The IPCC has magnanimously declared that it would have been happy if Gore had received the Nobel peace prize alone. I am glad that he did not.

Unfortunately, Gore's prize will only intensify our focus on climate change to the detriment of other planetary challenges.

Gore concentrates above all else on his call for world leaders to cut CO2 emissions, yet other policies would do much more for the planet. Over the coming century, developing nations will be increasingly dependent on food imports from developed countries, not primarily as a result of global warming, but because of more people and less arable land in the developing world.

The number of hungry people depends much less on climate than on demographics and income. Extremely expensive cuts in carbon emissions could mean more malnourished people. If our goal is to fight malnutrition, policies like getting nutrients to those who need them are 5,000 times more effective at saving lives than spending billions of dollars cutting carbon emissions.


global warming will probably slightly increase malaria, but CO2 reductions will be far less effective at fighting this disease than mosquito nets and medication, which can cheaply save 850,000 lives every year. By contrast, the expensive Kyoto protocol will prevent just 1,400 deaths from malaria each year.

While we worry about the far-off effects of climate change, we do nothing to deal with issues facing the planet today. This year, malnutrition will kill almost 4 million people. Three million lives will be lost to HIV/Aids. Two and a half million people will die because of indoor and outdoor air pollution. A lack of micronutrients and clean drinking water will claim two million lives each.

With attention and money in scarce supply, we should first tackle the problems with the best solutions, thereby doing the most good throughout the century. Focusing on solving today's problems will leave communities strengthened, economies more vibrant, and infrastructures more robust. This will enable us to deal much better with future problems - including global warming - whereas committing to massive cuts in carbon emissions will leave future generations poorer and less able to adapt to challenges.

To be fair, Gore deserves some form of recognition for his resolute passion. However, the contrast between this year's Nobel winners could not be sharper. The IPCC engages in meticulous research where facts rule over everything else. Gore has a very different approach.

In cooperation with Project Syndicate, 2007.

Gore and peace

Reposted from:

Jonathan Freedland

Gore and peace

The former vice-president deserves his shared Nobel prize, and there will be a feverish hope in the US that he will now enter the 2008 election race.

Well, that certainly puts Judge Michael Burton in his place. Earlier this week, the high court judge ruled that Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, contained nine scientific errors which had arisen in the context of "alarmism and exaggeration", and that therefore the film should only be shown in British schools with some balancing guidance notes. Somehow I suspect the blow of that court ruling will be softened by today's news that

Al Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has won the Nobel peace prize for his advocacy on the issue of global warming
- at the heart of which is, of course, An Inconvenient Truth.

When I saw the film more than a year ago, I wrote that it was a "model of political communication", somehow taking facts that you might have already known in your head and using them to reach your gut - which is where lasting political convictions reside. Many who had known abstractly about climate change before seeing Gore's movie admit they only truly cared about it, and saw its urgency, afterwards. And that turnaround has been repeated in countless countries among millions of people. For that remarkable achievement alone, Gore richly deserves his shared Nobel.


Gore's unhappiness with the life of a political candidate is real. He's also come to believe that even a US president is powerless to act on climate change unless public opinion has moved, that acting as a teacher and advocate can have a greater political impact. And in a way the Nobel jury have just proved him right. In this area, at least, a failed presidential candidate has achieved much, much more than the man who took the White House from him.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Gore and UN share Nobel peace prize

Reposted from:

The former US vice-president Al Gore and the UN climate change panel will share the 2007 Nobel peace prize for raising awareness of the risks of climate change, the Nobel committee announced today.

Chosen from a field of 181 candidates, Mr Gore and the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) will split the $1.5m (£750,000) prize.

The Norwegian committee praised Mr Gore for his strong commitment to the struggle against climate change.

Mr Gore responded by telling a press conference that climate change was the "most dangerous challenge we've ever faced".

"I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honour and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness and the change in urgency," Mr Gore said.

"It truly is a planetary emergency: we have to respond quickly. I'm going back to work right now. This is just the beginning."

Mr Gore, who lost the 2000 presidential election to George Bush, ignored questions on whether he planned to run again for president.

The Norwegian committee said Mr Gore was "probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted".

However, Mr Gore's award-winning film on the issue, An Inconvenient Truth, was this week criticised in a British high court case for allegedly containing inaccuracies.

Mr Gore said he would donate his share of the prize money to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group seeking to change public opinion in the US and around the world about the urgency of dealing with climate change.

"I am deeply honoured to receive the Nobel peace prize," Mr Gore said in an earlier statement.

"This award is even more meaningful because I have the honour of sharing it with the IPCC - the world's pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis - a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years."

The Nobel committee said the IPCC had created an ever broader, informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming.

"Thousands of scientists and officials from over 100 countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming," the panel said. "Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support."

The Nobel committee said that by awarding the prize to the IPCC and Mr Gore, it wanted to bring a sharper focus on the processes and decisions needed to protect the world's future climate.

"Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control," the panel warned.

The joint award to Mr Gore, who was the favourite among the contenders, is expected to galvanise his supporters, who are pushing him to run again for the White House, despite his loss eight years ago.

Since then, Mr Gore has appeared more relaxed, shedding an uptight image that did him no favours in contrast to Mr Bush, who projected an easygoing charm.

Should Mr Gore take the plunge, he can count on strong grassroots support, though his detractors believe that, in the glare of presidential politics, he will revert to his old, wooden self.

The "draft Gore" movement has been gaining momentum, accumulating about 127,000 signatures this year, 10,000 of them in the last week of September alone.

Mr Gore has consistently said he is not interested in running again for the White House, insisting he can be more effective in the fight against climate change outside mainstream politics.

But his denials of interest have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of supporters, who feel that as president he would have the credibility required to push through tough measures to slow climate change.

The other presidential candidates - Hillary Clinton, in particular - have so far disappointed environmental activists by shying away from promising aggressive action to deal with America's contribution to climate change.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Al Gore's Climate film allowed in UK schools

Reposted from:
Climate film allowed in schools
Al Gore in promotional still
Al Gore's film was sent to schools in England, Wales and Scotland
Ex-US vice president Al Gore's climate change documentary can be shown in England's secondary schools, a High Court judge has said.

An Inconvenient Truth promotes "partisan political views" but it is not unlawful to show to students, Mr Justice Burton said.

He made the comments after a hearing in which Kent parent Stewart Dimmock asked for the film to be banned.

The judge said teachers must follow updated guidance when showing the film.

The guidance, updated this week by the government at the urging of Mr Justice Burton, is designed to prevent the film being wrongly "promoted" to children.

Mr Dimmock, from Dover, argued the film was unfit for schools because it was politically partisan and contains serious scientific inaccuracies, as well as "sentimental mush".

Although the judge is to give his judgement next week after a four-day case, he indicated what his ruling would be for the benefit of schools.


Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said: "The judge's decision is clear that schools can continue to use An Inconvenient Truth as part of their teaching on climate change in accordance with the amended guidance which will be available online tomorrow [3 October].

"Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. Schools have a special role to play in helping pupils understand its causes and in exploring if and how we should respond."

He said the updated guidance made "it clearer for teachers as to the stated IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] position on a number of scientific points raised in the film".

He added that the key arguments in the documentary - "that climate change is mainly caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases and will have serious adverse consequences" - are supported by scientific opinion.