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interestingly, the unconventional choice of peaceniks, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc), by the Nobel committee has not created a public outcry. In fact, it has been lauded in all quarters, barring the 'denial' lobby. Over the years, the committee has made eclectic (and sometimes curious) attempts to enlarge and reinterpret the meaning of peace, hence focussing on the nature of war too. This time the award, probably, did not raise a controversy because the issue seemed larger than the awardees. The choice, undoubtedly, should place the climate change debate on the centrestage. Or are we being naive?
Awards have a tendency to become a fashionable topic, specially when one of the awardees is already an Oscar winner. The danger is the focus will be on the celebrity and the issue will go out of the window or be underplayed. So, we will have to remember that this award for peace is also about a war to be won as also that climate change is as political an issue as armed conflicts, poverty or access to credit. The problem lies here.
Who are we fighting in our war against climate change? The 2,500 scientists of ipcc who share the prize with Gore told us after long calculations--delayed reaction?--that climate change is human-induced. The fact is that all humans are not equal and that is where the politics of climate change comes in. But let's give the ipcc scientists their due. Criticised by activists as too hesitant, they have put the bad news out. Given the high political and business stakes involved in climate, one must congratulate ipcc captain Dr Pachauri's political acumen in negotiating the tough terrain of vested interests and steering his team to the prize.
On the other hand, Gore's track record as vice-president of the us--the world's largest climate criminal--is under the scanner. In office, he was anti-union and a friend of the oil industry and Big Tobacco. He didn't get his country into multilateral climate negotiations. His post-office activism, thus, has to be seen as posturing. But forget history, now we are just talking about an award 'for efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change'. Only we can't. Remember Kissinger, Begin, Rabin.
They offer us a note of caution. Let's hope climate change does not suffer the same fate as conflicts for which prizes have been given. After all, nothing has changed in West Asia or the streets of Kolkata.
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