Monday, October 8, 2007

Nobel Week Suspense - Will Al Gore Win Friday?

Crossed fingers and churning stomachs turn in anticipation towards Norway and the Nobel Foundation this week. Intense speculation is rife with rumors about the identity of winners for Nobel Prizes. The whole week starts a festival of activity preparing for the winners' December acceptance speeches. So as not to disturb the ozone, many (me too) are holding their breath for Friday's announcement to see if a particular cause - Global Warming - Climate Change, receives recognition in the Peace category for a particular high profile American environmental activist, Al Gore and the less famous Canadian Sheila Watte-Cloutier.

"I've been surprised almost every time," Nobel watcher Stein Toennesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute - Oslo, said Friday.

"It would have to do with climate change, and it would be a prize that included both a man and a woman," he said.

Watt-Cloutier, who lives in Iqaluit, has highlighted the impact of climate change on life for Arctic communities. She has spoken about people in Nunavut drowning because of melting glaciers and unstable ice, and rising suicide rates because traditional hunting life has been disrupted.

"I have a feeling that climate change is appropriate (for a prize)," Dan Smith, a former director of Oslo's peace research institute, said by telephone from London. "I also have a feeling that it would not be Al Gore. He does not need it."

Others mentioned include Finnish peace mediator Martti Ahtisaari or activists like Lida Yusupova from Russia, Rebiya Kadeer from China or Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do.

Medicine announced today the mice were outstanding and got their three doctors plaudits from the Committee; Oliver Smithies, Martin J. Evans and Mario Capecchi, for successfully creating specific genetic changes. Tomorrow, the Nobel spotlight is on Physics. Wednesday, my birthday, highlights the winners in Chemistry, Thursday illumination and erudition from the world of Literature with Friday dedicated to the significant contributions towards World Peace.

The winners stories are compelling and the Dr. Capecchi is no exception as he recounts some of the hardest times of his life. to win a Nobel Prize in medicine after what he endured is a testament to perseverance strength of character and a testament to will.

The prize was particularly rewarding for Dr. Capecchi, who lived as a street urchin in Italy during World War II and who later had to prove his scientific peers wrong after they rejected his initial grant to the National Institutes of Health in 1980, saying his project was not feasible.

Dr. Capecchi’s mother had lived in a luxurious villa in Florence and had become a Bohemian poet, writing against Fascism and Nazism. She refused to marry his father, an Italian Air Force officer with whom she had a love affair. When young Mario was not yet 4, the Gestapo came to their home inTyrol, in the Italian Alps, to take his mother to the Dachau concentration camp.

Because she knew her time of freedom was limited, she had sold all her possessions and given the proceeds to an Italian farming family with whom he lived for about a year. When the money ran out, the family sent Mario on his way. He said he wandered south, moving from town to town as his cover was blown. He wandered, usually alone, but sometimes in small gangs, begging and stealing, sleeping in the streets, occasionally in an orphanage.

At the war’s end, the malnourished boy was put in a hospital for a year. During that time his mother, who had survived Dachau, searched hospitals and orphanages for him. A week after she found him — on his birthday — they were on a boat to join her brother in a Quaker environment in Pennsylvania.

Al Gore had the most privileged of childhoods with private schools and meeting his sweetheart, Tipper. His life of luxury did little to prepare him to watch everything he cherished be suddenly at risk with the near death of his son, the loss of his only sibling Nancy, winning the popular vote in 2000 to become President to only have it snatched away by a partisan US Supreme Court decision. Since college Al Gore has written, cajoled and argued on behalf of environmental issues.

People became transfixed with one man holding a seminar teaching about Global Warming that turned out massive audiences worldwide to hear how what happens in your neck of the woods with greenhouse gases affects someone else acutely. Gore is the environmental CFL-Gold standard. Many environmental and political activists will be hitting refresh on their browsers Friday to see if he is one half of the team advancing the cause of Peace through his contributions of film, writing, lecturing and participating in getting the world to comprehend the coming destruction ofour Earth if we don't immediately change our behaviors.

The battle against global warming is seen as a strong candidate for the prestigious award, with former US vice president Al Gore and Canadian Inuit Sheila Watt-Cloutier believed to be contenders.

Gore has brought the issue to the top of the international agenda with his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth , while Watt-Cloutier, the former head of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, has campaigned to draw attention to climate change in the Arctic.

Climate change has a direct impact on world peace, according to observers who note that humanitarian efforts around the world will amount to nothing if low-lying countries are wiped out by rising sea levels and massive waves of refugees.

The resources of dwindling fresh water, dirty air and lack of arable land cause wars. That is the direct effect of environmental policies that are good only for first world nations that obstruct world peace when others try to acquire the same standard of living. Peace through a shared world that we all keep clean and respect is a cause for celebration, Nobel aside. But still, a validation that this is tremendously important would not go amiss.

No matter the final Friday outcome, a hearty congratulations on their contribution towards Peace. There will always be the Academy Award winning, An Inconvenient Truth.

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