Monday, December 10, 2007

Nobel Week

Nobel Week is coming to a close. This year's highlight was Al Gore's Nobel Lecture on the dangers of global climate change. Gore says, "We are what is wrong, and we must make it right."

Gore states unequivocally that CO2 is pollution, and the consequences of its accumulation are devastating.

"Last September 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the North Polar ice cap is "falling off a cliff." One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.

Seven years from now.

In the last few months, it has been harder and harder to misinterpret the signs that our world is spinning out of kilter. Major cities in North and South America, Asia and Australia are nearly out of water due to massive droughts and melting glaciers. Desperate farmers are losing their livelihoods. Peoples in the frozen Arctic and on low-lying Pacific islands are planning evacuations of places they have long called home. Unprecedented wildfires have forced a half million people from their homes in one country and caused a national emergency that almost brought down the government in another. Climate refugees have migrated into areas already inhabited by people with different cultures, religions, and traditions, increasing the potential for conflict. Stronger storms in the Pacific and Atlantic have threatened whole cities. Millions have been displaced by massive flooding in South Asia, Mexico, and 18 countries in Africa. As temperature extremes have increased, tens of thousands have lost their lives. We are recklessly burning and clearing our forests and driving more and more species into extinction. The very web of life on which we depend is being ripped and frayed."

He singles out, USA and China for action: "But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. [I]t should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters – most of all, my own country – that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act."

Quoting Henrik Isben, Gore says, ""One of these days, the younger generation will come knocking at my door."

They will ask either, ""What were you thinking; why didn't you act? "Or they will ask instead: "How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?"

When the next generation knocks on your door, what are you going to say?

The full text is available here.

Photo: Scanpix/Tom Hevezi

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