It was almost anticlimactic when Mr. Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last week won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Climate change has steadily climbed the global public policy agenda, and is now the first action item at most international gatherings. Some would call this a victory for political correctness, a dig at both the topic and the recipients — Mr. Gore in particular. That thinking betrays a cynicism that will only ensure that this problem gets worse. Climate change is a severe and worsening concern. Action is needed now, and the two recipients’ work has been instrumental in raising public awareness and forcing governments to respond to this threat.
The Nobel committee recognized that “Action is necessary now before climate change moves beyond man’s control.” It credited Mr. Gore with being “probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted” to deal with climate change. If he is the heart of that struggle, the IPCC, a United Nations-affiliated group of more than 2,000 scientists from 130 countries, is its brains. It has provided a series of rigorous scientific assessments that make unmistakable the severity of the threat, as well as the consequences and costs of action and inaction. Together, they have transformed debate on this topic.
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