For the third successive year, but for only the sixth time since it was initiated in 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize has been divided equally between an institution and an individual. In awarding the Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global body responsible for scientific assessment of climate change, and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore, the phenomenon’s most renowned campaigner, the Norwegian Nobel Committee are highlighting the link they see between the risk of accelerating climate change and the risk of violent conflict and wars.
The IPCC was established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with neutral summaries of the latest information related to human-induced (or anthropogenic) climate change. Run from offices in Geneva, but open to any of the nearly 200 member states belonging to the UN or WMO, the IPCC functions through its working groups. There are currently 3 working groups, focusing on the science, impact and mitigation of climate change, and one task force charged with developing greenhouse gas inventories. The findings of the IPCC are presented as ‘Assessment reports’, synthesizing the views of the working groups, which are produced approximately every 5 years. The fourth and next report is due at the end of 2007.
The working groups have already published their individual contributions to the forthcoming fourth report. A quote from the Science Working Group’s report states “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”. A quote from Working Group II, which looks at impact, states “Much more evidence has accumulated over the past five years to indicate that changes in many physical and biological systems are linked to anthropogenic warming”. They go on to say that “Unmitigated climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt”.
Al Gore is the leading public advocate of the need to take immediate action to reduce anthropogenic climate change. His campaigning takes many forms, including the Academy Award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth and a book of the same name. He is also the founder and Chairman of the Alliance for Climate Change, an organization dedicated to persuading people of the urgency of responding to what it calls the ‘climate crisis’.
A new Nobel Prize Lesson is now available and ready to use in the classroom.