Wondering Why Al Gore's In Oslo?


Recycled aluminum sculpture in front of the Nobel prize venue at Oslo City Hall

Alfred Nobel may have regretted his actions in creating dynamite, and thus he left the bulk of his fortune to funding the future Nobel prizes. As nearly everyone knows, Nobel was a Swede, and this year's medals and cash prizes are to be given out today at lavish ceremonies in Stockholm.

Except, that is, for the peace prize, which is decided upon and given out by Norwegians. Nobel never explained exactly why he put the peace prize in the hands of the Norwegians, though in his day Norway and Sweden were in a political union - perhaps he was just trying to keep the peace. OK, bad pun over. Nobel said the peace prize was to go to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations...[or] for the holding and promoting of peace conferences."
That's why Al Gore's not in Stockholm but in Oslo, where he'll pick up the medal and prize money he'll share with Indian IPCC scientist Rajenda Pachauri and the rest of the IPCC committee. For once, Gore rode a commercial airliner to get to Oslo, and took the high-speed train from the airport into town instead of a private limousine. Of course the bigger (and unanswerable) question "does Gore deserve the prize?" Who knows? The peace prize is frequently a magnet for controversy, and Gore's again getting more scrutiny than ever for his energy-eating homes, his private jet, and his slightly silver-spoon method of climate offsets - instead of just purchasing them, the company of which he is chairman of, Generation Investment Management, buys offsets for all of its employees' emissions through the Chicago Climate Exchange and the Carbon Neutral Company.

After a private meeting on Sunday with Norway's foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Gore at a press conference didn't criticize Norway's climate record or its dirty new gas-fired plant, though Pachauri did comment that the country is an extremely high per capita emitter of CO2. Perhaps hoping to forestall the criticism, Norway used the occassion (or at least the day) of the prize-giving to announce it would give 3 billion Norwegian crowns (US$ 560 million) to rainforest preservation efforts, thought to be one of the least-expensive, fastest and most meaningful ways to reduce the release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

In addition, while Gore and the Oslo and Stocholm events are hogging a lot of media oxygen, Stockholm was also the venue last Friday of the Right Livelihood awards - at which Sri Lankan judge Christopher Weeramantry was honored for landmark work and opinion on the use and threat of nuclear weapons; the Grameen Shakti company was awarded for bringing sustainable light and power to thousands of Bangladeshi villages; and farmer Percy Schmeiser got a award also for defending biodiversity and farmers' rights by standing up to Monsanto around seed rights. Go Percy! Via ::Aftonpost.no/English

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