To Al Gore and the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. This is the second time the Nobel prizes have honored work on climate change, the first being the award of the 1995 Chemistry Prize to Crutzen, Molina and Sherwood for their discovery of the chemical reactions that led CFCs to deplete the ozone layer.
That award came at an opportune time. Although the world had agreed under the Montreal protocol to phase out CFCs, US Republicans working through the aptly-named DeLay-Doolittle committee were working to undermine it, attacking the science and so on, with the support of a number ofleading delusionists (Sallie Baliunas, Pat Michaels, Fred Singer and others). The Nobel award took the wind out of their sails and most of the “skeptical scientists” involved went very quiet on the issue thereafter. That didn’t stop them using the same tactics and arguments regarding CO2 and global warming.
I hope the 2007 Peace Prize award will have a similar impact. While it’s not a science prize, it would certainly not have been awarded if there was any serious doubt about (rather than politically motivated opposition to) the science of climate change. And it rightly honors Gore’s role in solidifying public opinion on the issue.
Of course, for those inside the Republican bubble of delusion, it will have the opposite impact (since they are opposed to both peace and science, it could hardly do otherwise). But it will certainly have an impact in Australia, leaving those who have been scathing about Gore and the IPCC with (yet more) egg on their faces. Of course, that group includes John Howard who refused to meet Gore last year. Since he seems to be in the mood for changing his tune, he would be well advised to take this opportunity to ratify Kyoto.
Congratulations also to the other Nobel winners. Doris Lessings literature prize is certainly well-deserved and while I’m not an expert, the winners of the science prizes announced so far have made contributions notable enough that I was already aware of their significance.
Of course, I’m awaiting with interest the Economics Nobel (more precisely the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel) to be announced on Monday. I’ve previously noted my enthusiasm for Robert Shiller. Greg Mankiw points to this prediction from Thomson Scientific and makes some bets of his own.