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The IPCC and Gore: Another Nobel for Science

An Interview With Joseph Romm On the Impact of the Prize

The Nobel Medel SOURCE: AP and the Nobel Foundation This year's Nobel Peace Prize went to the 2,000 scientists of the IPCC and Former Vice President Al Gore.

Today, some 2,000 scientists from around the world won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work studying the threat of global climate change. The diverse members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the prize with former Vice President Al Gore. Science Progress spoke with Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of about the award and the impact it will have.

Science Progress: What is the significance of awarding the peace prize for an environmental issue?

Joseph Romm:
I think it’s significant that it’s the Peace Prize. The Vice President and many others have said that climate change is a security issue because it will create millions of environmental refugees and will lead to water scarcity that can cause conflict. Conflicts like those in Darfur have environmental roots and need environmental solutions, along with political and economic solutions.

Gore is trying to prevent a humanitarian crisis; he is trying to prevent regional wars that will be driven by resource scarcity. This isn’t the first time that a major environmental issue has won the peace prize. Winning this Prize proves this isn’t an ordinary environmental issue. It is one of the most important issues of our time. It would be good if this award were part of a trend.

SP: Will this award help to spur a change in U.S. climate change policy?

JR: We’re still stuck with the Bush administration policies. This award will give moral authority to the people pushing for action; it underscores that it is a moral issue. But in a practical sense, if the president of the U.S. won’t agree to mandatory controls, then there’s not much to be done.

There is a lot of legislation in front of Congress addressing climate change, and hopefully this will light a fire under Congress to vote on that legislation. A national plan to address global warming is a major vote. People will be remembered for decades to come for how they vote, or how they filibuster.

SP: What is the significance of giving the Peace Prize to 2,000 scientists as well as the former Vice President?

JR: It’s important that the Nobel committee gave the award to a group of scientists. There have been other scientists, such as Linus Pauling, who received the peace prize, but this is rare. The IPCC has come under much unjustified criticism for supposedly being too political, whereas the rest of us know that they don’t oversell global warming. If anything, they underplay some of the impacts. A lot of IPCC scientists toil away in anonymity and if they say anything, they get attacked. Hopefully this will give them the courage to speak up.

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