We note that Betsafe.com, the Scandinavian online betting site, has the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and its chairman Rajendra Pachauri currently listed as of this posting as the favorite for the Nobel Peace Prize, to be awarded Friday, with odds of 3.25-to-1. Al Gore is a close second at 3.35-to-1. Inuit climate change activist leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier is third, at 4-to-1. We believe it would be an excellent choice for the Nobel committee to award the prize to the IPCC.
Betsafe is a new one for us. We wonder, is this Scandinavian site closely attuned to the likely outcome?
Of course, selecting an individual or organization that is deeply engaged with the global warming problem would not be the first time the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was someone outside a traditional peacekeeping role.
In our judgment, for 20 years the IPCC has been the finest manifestation of an extraordinary, even heroic effort by some of the most brilliant and dedicated scientists on the planet to connect the developing understanding of climate change with the need to have the state of scientific knowledge reviewed and synthesized—authoritatively, in depth, and understandably—for a wider audience of public officials and civil society. One of the many extraordinary aspects of climate change is that our growing concern with it as a policy and management problem of critical importance for our future has been driven to a great extent by scientific advances and scientifically based assessments. Even with its imperfections and limitations, where would we be in our collective worldwide public understanding of this fundamental challenge if it were not for the ongoing communications of the IPCC—on change in the physical climate system, climate change societal and environmental impacts and vulnerability, and mitigation and adaptation response strategies? Where will we be years from now if government officials are not held accountable for using the IPCC’s communications with integrity in developing effective policies?
We believe it would be an excellent choice for the Nobel committee to award the prize to the IPCC—preferably collectively, as an institution, to make it clear that the honor is going to the entire corps of report authors, and the great ongoing scientific research and assessment project that they represent.
And as our personal favorite second choice—we know and admire Sheila Watt-Cloutier, former President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) Canada and subsequently the International Chair of the ICC. For those not familiar with her work, a quick and basic briefing:
Most recently, her work has emphasized the human face of the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. In addition to maintaining an active speaking and media outreach schedule, she launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change. On December 7, 2005, based on the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which projects that Inuit hunting culture may not survive the loss of sea ice and other changes projected over the coming decades, she filed a petition, along with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Although her petition was rejected, just two months later, the Commission invited Ms. Watt-Cloutier to testify with her international legal team (including lawyers from Earthjustice and the Center for International Environmental Law) at a hearing on climate change and human rights on March 1, 2007.
We would be pleased to see the award given to Sheila Watt-Cloutier and would regard it as well-deserved.