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  Yahoo News 13 Oct 07
Gore: Award puts focus on global warming
By Seth Borenstein and Lisa Leff, Associated Press Writers

BBC 12 Oct 07
Nobel prize recognises climate crisis

By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Yahoo News 12 Oct 07
Could Gore's Nobel switch on energy-saving bulbs in US minds?
by Karin Zeitvogel

Yahoo News 12 Oct 07
Gore's Nobel win should boost alternative energy
By Timothy Gardner

Yahoo News 12 Oct 07
Experts: Climate change threatens peace
By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

What does global warming have to do with global peace? The globe may find out sooner than we think, experts say.

"Climate change is and will be a significant threat to our national security and in a larger sense to life on Earth as we know it to be," retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, former U.S. Army chief of staff, told a congressional panel last month.

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee agrees. In awarding the prize Friday to climate campaigner Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-sponsored network of scientists, the Norwegian committee said the stresses of a changing global environment may heighten the "danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."

Those like Sullivan who study the issues point particularly to the impact of drought and altered climate patterns on food and water supplies, leading to shortages that could spur huge, destabilizing migrations of people internationally.

In a report in May, scientists advising the German government noted specific scenarios that could upend the lives of millions, driving them across borders to overwhelm other lands.

"The dieback of the Amazon rain forest or the loss of the Asian monsoon could have incalculable consequences for the societies concerned," said the German Advisory Council on Global Change.

In some cases, potential backlashes from warming weren't foreseen even a few years ago. One example: The stunningly swift shrinking of Arctic Ocean ice in recent summers has drawn attention to looming international disputes over rights to the newly open seas.

The unpredictability of when, where and how some of the changes will occur has frustrated Pentagon planners and others trying to prepare.

A 2003 report commissioned by the Pentagon warned that abrupt climate change "could potentially destabilize the geopolitical environment, leading to skirmishes, battles, and even war due to resource constraints."

But that study's scenario for abrupt change hinged in part on fears that the Atlantic's Gulf Stream current might slow, chilling northern Europe and eastern North America and curtailing food harvests. Now, however, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it's "very unlikely" the current will slow abruptly.

Unpredictability was dispelled elsewhere in the panel's reports this year. It found, for example, that warmer and drier conditions are already shortening the growing season in Africa's Sahel, a conflict-ridden region long burdened by food and water shortages.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the German scientists cited other potential "hotspots," including:

Egypt's vital, low-lying Nile Delta, where the livelihoods of millions may be at risk from rising sea levels and salinization of agricultural areas.

The Asian subcontinent, where the retreat of Himalayan glaciers will dry up downstream water supplies, and rising seas and stronger cyclones will threaten tens of millions on the Bay of Bengal coast.

The poor nations of Central America, where more intense hurricanes could severely damage economies, destabilize political systems and send streams of uprooted people toward the U.S. border.

At the same time, the German scientists said, the climate challenge is an opportunity to unite the international community. In that spirit, Britain last April organized the first U.N. Security Council meeting to consider climate change as a threat to international peace.

Global efforts have faltered, however, in trying to cut back emissions of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases in part because the Bush administration opposes such internationally mandated reductions. That in itself may help sharpen world tensions, the German report said.

If, amid recriminations and finger-pointing, governments fail to unite on global warming, "climate change will draw ever-deeper lines of division and conflict in international relations," it said.

Leaders are growing nervous. At the U.S. Army War College last March, military and scientific specialists quietly convened in a colloquium on "Global Climate Change: National Security Implications." Among the topics discussed: the possible need for a new National Security Act to "oblige intergovernmental cooperation" on climate by future U.S. administrations.

BBC 12 Oct 07
Nobel prize recognises climate crisis

By Richard Black Environment correspondent, BBC News website

In awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the committee has signalled its view that climate change is now one of global society's defining security issues.

Just look down the list of previous winners and the issues they represented.

Nuclear weapons, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East, North Korea, East Timor, Northern Ireland, Soviet break-up, the ending of South African apartheid, landmines, the Middle East again, South Asian rural poverty... all things which threatened to affect, and in many cases did affect, the well-being of citizens inside and outside the conflict zones.

Now the Nobel Foundation has added climate change to the list. And the conflation of the laureates is interesting.

In the IPCC they have picked the body which has done most to establish the science of climate change and project what it may mean for the natural world and human society.

If the IPCC has been the global leader, Mr Gore has been its minstrel, taking the message of climate change to the public in a way that no-one had previously attempted.

There is some irony in the twin award, given the High Court judgement handed down in Britain this week which found that Mr Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth contained some rather important errors, despite being truthful in its central message - which was derived principally from the IPCC.

Successful communicator

Al Gore was by no means the first to try to engage the public on climate change - that accolade belongs partly to a few pioneering scientists, but mostly to the environmental movement, to groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

But many of their top players have been in scarcely-concealed despair over their inability to get people interested.

George Marshall of Rising Tide said a few years back: "For 15 years, environmental activists, myself included, have been pursuing this tried-and-tested model (of public awareness-building).

"Our call to action has been made against a backdrop of serious warnings from scientists. And yet there is still no vocal mass movement against climate change in any country.

"Where did we go wrong?"

As a heavyweight political figure in the most powerful and one of the most climate-sceptical countries on Earth, Mr Gore gained the attention of gadfly media organisations in a way that no scientist or activist ever could.

He also revealed himself as a superb communicator - sharp, witty, and engaging.

And in the political sense, he had been there, done it, worn the t-shirt and eaten the burger.

For eight years, his finger had been a heartbeat away from the button deploying the world's most terrifying nuclear arsenal.

Who would not listen when he warned of a catastrophe not nuclear, but climatic, in nature?

And the non-governmental organisations, struggling to find a new relevance for themselves now that Tony Blair, Al Gore, Jacques Chirac and Ban Ki-Moon have stolen their clothes, have applauded the Nobel award.

WWF's Hans Verolme spoke of "our gratitude to Al Gore for championing this issue".

Chris Miller of Greenpeace said the former vice-president had "inspired many around the world to redouble their efforts to protect the planet".

Putting in the hours

You could argue that Mr Gore was fortunate in beginning his campaign at a time when the scientific picture on climate change was becoming clearer.

For that, he must thank the IPCC; the bureaucrats who manage it, the hundreds of scientists who take part in its discussions, and the thousands of other scientists whose research feeds into it.

Most science is not glamorous. Unless you spend time close to scientists, it is difficult to appreciate the sheer mind-numbing tedium which many of us would feel if we put ourselves through their daily routines.

My favourite example comes from a different type of scientist, albeit a Nobel Laureate, Sir John Sulston, who scooped the Medicine Prize in 2001.

In his book The Common Thread, he relates how his Nobel-rewarded research involved looking down a microscope for several hours at a time, every day, for more than a year, drawing the patterns he saw in the cells of tiny nematode worms as they replicated and died.

Sex, drugs and rock and roll it is not.

Some of the scientists involved in painting the climate picture are engaged in work of equivalent, usually thankless tedium, and this Nobel Prize is in part an award for them.

Their years of labour led to the IPCC's latest analysis, that it is more than 90% certain that humans are the prime agents behind changes now being observed in the Earth's climate.

Combined with the panel's soberly-written projections of the impacts of those changes, it is that certainty which Mr Gore and his like can now draw on when they talk about climate change in the corridors of power and on our movie screens.

Political influence?

Over the last year it has been possible to detect a sea-change in the way climate change is regarded and discussed.

Such impressions are necessarily nebulous. But there seems to be more acceptance of the science at the top tables in sceptical governments.

And it is worth remembering that what emerges in the IPCC's headline reports is endorsed by representatives of the world's most important governments, so it is not just a bunch of scientists making just another study.

Former World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern has made the economic case for tackling the problem soon and taken it to finance ministers and corporate chiefs around the world.

Partly spurred on by electoral concerns, US President George W Bush and Australia's John Howard have both endorsed the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions more explicitly than ever before, though their own domestic policies fall short of what the IPCC or Mr Gore would recommend - as do those of many still nations within the Kyoto Protocol process, including Britain's.

Whether any of this will make a difference in December, when delegates gather in the tropical heat of Bali for the United Nations climate convention annual meeting, is an open question.

The Nobel accolade for the scientific collective and the great communicator perhaps make it a little more likely. Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.

Yahoo News 12 Oct 07
Could Gore's Nobel switch on energy-saving bulbs in US minds?
by Karin Zeitvogel

US former vice president Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize has highlighted the urgency of tackling climate change, but experts are divided over whether it will spur Americans to mend their energy-unfriendly ways.

"Al Gore winning the Nobel prize is not the kind of triggering event that is going to motivate Americans to change behaviour en masse," Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies told AFP.

"But it is part of the steady drip, drip, drip that has brought a sea change in public opinion on climate change in the past couple of years," he said.

A study published last month by Yale showed that 62 percent of Americans feel "immediate and drastic action" is needed to reduce global warming, and that half were very worried about climate change.

But only 19 percent thought it posed a risk to themselves and their families.

"That sense of immediacy in time has definitely shifted -- a few years ago, Americans thought climate change would impact people in 50 to 100 years, if ever -- but what hasn't shifted so much is Americans' feeling that they are personally at risk," Leiserowitz said.

Few Americans live in a home without an electricity-gluttonous clothes dryer, air conditioning, dishwashers and washing machines, and a family car.

"I often ask why people here don't use clothes lines, but where I live, clothes lines are banned because they are said to be unsightly," Kevin Trenberth, the head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), told AFP.

"I am trying to convince the authorities in Colorado that clothes lines are environmentally beautiful," he said.

Trenberth was a lead author of the 1995, 2001 and 2007 Scientific Assessment of Climate Change reports by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the Nobel with Gore.

The United States is the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, 30 percent of which come from automobiles, said Trenberth, a New Zealand native.

"We could cut emissions in half in the US. The main way to make change happen relates to the pocketbook," he said.

The Yale University poll showed that 85 percent of Americans support a requirement for car manufacturers to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, even if it would add 500 dollars to the price of a new car.

Trenberth said the car industry could have an effect on climate change in the space of 10 years.

"Most of the petrol-run cars on the road have a life of around 12 years, and could be replaced by hybrids or other environmentally friendly vehicles at the end of their lives. But we need incentives to be put in place for that to work," he said.

Annie Strickler, a spokeswoman for ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, said Gore's award had given new momentum to a "wave of leadership on climate change that is spreading across the country."

"This started at a local level and is moving up through the ranks and permeating to Washington," Strickler said.

"On a day like today when climate change won the Nobel Peace Prize, you feel a certain momentum, and it's powerful," she said.

Powerful enough to switch on the hopefully energy-efficient lightbulbs in Americans' heads about what they can do to put the brakes on global warming?

"A number of people have not yet grasped the connection that, when you turn on a light, on the other end there's a coal-fired power plant," said Janet Larsen, director of research at the Earth Policy Institute in Washington.

Trenberth suggested peer pressure as a way to effect lifestyle changes.

"There's tremendous waste in the United States, but if people feel they can keep wasting things, if no one looks down on them when they water the pavement during a drought, for instance, presumably they will continue," he said.

"But if they see everyone else doing something for the environment, especially the leaders, then we're likely to see change."

Yahoo News 12 Oct 07
Gore's Nobel win should boost alternative energy
By Timothy Gardner

The winning of the Nobel Peace Prize by Al Gore and the U.N. climate panel on Friday should give a push to alternative energy technologies that are already enjoying their best year ever, experts said.

The prize could spur change in the energy industry that coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power dominate.

"It's a quiet revolution," said Sarah Emerson, the managing director of Boston-Based Energy Security Analysis Inc, which has advised clients about fossil fuels for decades. "Gore's winning makes it a little louder."

Gore's Oscar-winning movie "An Inconvenient Truth" and book of the same name, and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report this year outlined global warming's threat and blamed it on gases emerging from the smokestacks and tailpipes of the world's hydrocarbon economy.

They also highlighted that the comparatively tiny industries of biofuels, wind and solar power, and energy-sipping compact florescent lightbulbs, could over the coming decades help limit output of heat-trapping gases belched out by fossil fuels.

The technologies have a long road ahead of them before they would help slow and then reverse output of greenhouse gases. The two largest emitters of heat-trapping gases, the United States and China, have plans to build hundreds of power plants that run on coal, the heaviest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.


"Gore has helped a whole lot of people see how critically important it is we address the climate crisis," Ted Nordhaus, an adviser to environmental groups, said in an interview.

"Where we and he need to go next is to define an agenda that is focused on building the new energy economy, not just tearing down the old energy economy," said Nordhaus, the co-author of "Break Through," a book about how the world should fight global warming.

In the United States, the world's top energy consumer, renewables only generated 3 percent of electricity in July, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But wind and solar power are growing at about 30 percent or more every year. And U.S. capacity to make ethanol has grown 28 percent this year.

Global investment in renewable energies jumped to a record $100 billion in 2006, and will likely rise to about $120 billion in 2007, the U.N. Environment Program said this summer.

Still, many of the technologies may suffer bumps on the road to development. Solar power may be hurt by low supplies of refined silicon and the U.S. ethanol industry has transportation bottlenecks that could lead to a glut in the heart of the country and thin supply on the coasts.

Fortunately for Gore and the IPCC, the peace prize comes during a time of record prices for oil, cheap supplies of which are harder and harder for major oil companies to find. Oil hit a record high above $84 per barrel on Friday amid supply concerns ahead of the Northern Hemisphere winter and tensions between northern Iraq and Turkey.

Adam Bergman, a clean technology investment banker at Jeffries in New York, said the peace prize and record oil prices should push the U.S. public to vote for politicians that would regulate greenhouse gases and provide strong incentives for renewables. He said incentives have helped put renewables on a level playing field with fossil fuels in European countries such as Germany and Spain.

"U.S. investors have put a lot of money in clean technologies ... but we don't have the incentive structures in place to make them competitive with traditional fossil fuels right now," he said.

Yahoo News 13 Oct 07
Gore: Award puts focus on global warming
By Seth Borenstein and Lisa Leff, Associated Press Writers

He spent decades trying to get the world to listen and believe as he did that global warming would destroy the planet unless people changed their behavior, and fast. But after former Vice President Al Gore and a host of climate scientists were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their warnings, Gore took only the briefest of bows on a live world stage. He avoided the issue of a U.S. presidential run to "get back to business" on "a planetary emergency."

"For my part, I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and the recognition from this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness and the change in urgency," Gore said at the offices of the Alliance For Climate Protection, a nonprofit he founded last year to engage citizens in solving the problem.

Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations network of scientists. The scientific panel has explained the dry details of global warming in thousands of pages of footnoted reports every six years or so since 1990.

Gore, fresh from a near miss at winning the U.S. presidency in 2000, translated the numbers and jargon-laden reports into something people could understand. He made a slide show and went Hollywood. His documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" won two Academy Awards and has been credited with changing the debate in America about global warming.

"When he first started really working on the climate change issue, I remember he was ridiculed in the press and certainly by political opponents as some kind of kook out there in la-la land," said federal climate scientist Tom Peterson, an IPCC co-author. "It's delightful that he's sharing this and he deserves it well. And it's nice to have his work being vindicated."

If he felt any sense of triumph over the political and scientific critics who belittled or ignored his message, Gore did not betray it during his only public appearance Friday. He learned of his award at 2 a.m. while watching the live TV announcement hearing his name amid the Norwegian at his apartment in San Francisco.

Nine hours later, his tone was somber and his remarks brief. With his wife, Tipper, and four Stanford University climate scientists who were co-authors of the international climate report at his side, he referenced a recent report that concluded the ice caps at the North Pole are melting faster than previously thought and could be gone in 23 years without dramatic action.

Gore said he planned to donate his share of the $1.5 million prize to the nonprofit alliance he chairs.

"This is a chance to elevate global consciousness about the challenges that we face now," he said. "The alarm bells are going off in the scientific community."

In announcing the award earlier in the day in Oslo, Norway, Nobel committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes said the prize was not a slap at the Bush administration's current policies. Instead, he said it was about encouraging all countries "to think again and to say what can they do to conquer global warming."

Gore is the first former vice president to win the Peace Prize since 1906 when Theodore Roosevelt, who by that time had become president, was awarded. Sitting Vice President Charles Gates Dawes won the prize in 1925. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter won it in 2002 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

From the late 1980s with his book "Earth in the Balance," Gore championed the issue of global warming. He had monthly science seminars on it while vice president and helped negotiate the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that called for cuts in greenhouse gases.

Since his loss to George W. Bush in 2000, he has traveled to more than 50 countries. He presented his slide show on global warming that became "An Inconvenient Truth" more than 1,000 times.

More than 20 top climate scientists told The Associated Press last year that the film was generally accurate in its presentation of the science, although some were bothered by what they thought were a couple of exaggerations.

Gore's movie was deeply personal. It was about him after losing the 2000 election and about his travels, and he talked about the changing climate in a personal way.

"He has honed that message in a way that many scientists are jealous of," said University of Michigan Dean Rosina Bierbaum. She was a top White House science aide to Gore and President Clinton. "He is a master communicator."

Climate scientists said their work was cautious and rock-solid, confirmed with constant peer review, but it didn't grab people's attention.

"We need an advocate such as Al Gore to help present the work of scientists across the world," said Bob Watson, former chairman of the IPCC and a top federal climate science adviser to the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Watson and Bierbaum, who regularly briefed Gore about global warming, described him as voracious, wanting to understand every detail about the science. Bierbaum recalled one Air Force Two journey with Gore and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The man who beat Gore in 2000, President Bush, had no plans to call Gore to congratulate him. But spokesman Tony Fratto called it "an important recognition" for both Gore and the scientific panel.

Some in the shrinking community of global warming skeptics and those downplaying the issue, were dubious, however.

"I think it cheapens the Nobel Prize," said William O'Keefe, chief executive officer of the conservative science-oriented think tank the Marshall Institute. O'Keefe, a former oil industry executive and current consultant to fossil fuel firms, called Gore's work "rife with errors."

As he was leaving the alliance's office, Gore stopped to thank a few dozen people who waited in the rain to congratulate him, which included a group of young girls who brought him a banner reading, "Thank you for saving our planet."

Asked whether the Nobel would quiet climate naysayers, he said the award would help the cause of fighting global warming overall.

"I hope we have a chance to really kick into high gear."

Borenstein reported from Washington. Leff reported from Palo Alto. Science Writer Malcolm Ritter in New York contributed to this report.

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