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.

31 thoughts on “Congratulations!

  1. mugwump, no one (no one seriously connected) is saying phase out CO2 production. What is being said is short circuit the process. Take out the 300 million years storage process, shorten the CO2 cycle and plug in the energy source directly. Which we can do. It is smarter, it is simpler, and it is cheaper. And it is underway.

  2. From the Nature article which Mugwump linked to:

    Nothing currently suggests that the role of
    CFCs must be called into question, Rex stresses.
    “Overwhelming evidence still suggests that
    anthropogenic emissions of CFCs and halons
    are the reason for the ozone loss. But we would
    be on much firmer ground if we could write
    down the correct chemical reactions.�

    I’ll simply add that the ability to go through an article cherry picking the bits that you want while ignoring the rest is one of the classic signs of a pseudoscientist.

  3. Ken Miles, that doesn’t alter the point: Montreal was based in large part on the near scientific certainty regarding the mechanism for ozone depletion. I seriously doubt it would have passed without it. Yet 25 years later we discover the chemists were probably wrong.

    And let’s wait and see whether Rex is right: 20 years after Montreal we’re still waiting for the ozone hole to diminish.

  4. It is smarter, it is simpler, and it is cheaper.

    If that’s the case, why don’t you assemble a team of investors and start operating your own solar plant? I’m in if you can show me the numbers.

  5. Montreal was based in large part on the near scientific certainty regarding the mechanism for ozone depletion.

    When the Montreal protocol was signed, there were still large numbers of unknowns in the rate constants of the various possible reactions which are involved in atmospheric ozone chemistry (had you paid more attention to the Realclimate post which you hand waved away you could have inferred this).

    The basic reactions which involve ozone breakdown were well known then, and nothing subsequently has changed that. The overall effect of chlorine and ultraviolet light on ozone has been determined experimentally. The new findings call into question the exact mechanistic details about how part of the overall process occurs.

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