Monday, October 8, 2007

Al Gore and his "Guaranteed" Nobel Prize

Nobel prize season got off to a start today with the award for contribution in the field of medicine going to a trio of researchers for their accomplishments in developing stem cell research. Tomorrow morning the Prize committee will announce the award for Physics, Chemistry gets handed out on Wednesday, Literature on Thursday, and, finally, the all-important Peace Prize on Friday. (The Prize for Economics, which was not one of the original prizes outlined in Alfred Nobel's will, is named next Monday.)

There is a lot of speculation that Al Gore will win this year's Peace Prize, like from this guy here at the Times of India:

For the peace prize, to be announced in Oslo on Friday, a total of 181 individuals and organisations are known to have been nominated.

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.

You can also see more speculation here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (among other places).

I don't know what the odds are in Vegas, but the conventional wisdom seems to favor Gore. I think this basically means that he's not going to win this year. Nearly everyone who says that Gore is going to win cite the work he's done on global warming for the last few years or so. Now, even though he's been working on the issue for several decades, his impact as an eco-activist is still relatively recent. The prize committee tends to award the Nobel to people who have been doing what they do for decades. So here's my prediction: Gore will likely win the Prize, but not this year. Jimmy Carter had to do good deeds for over twenty years after he left office before he received his Nobel. Gore may need to the same. If I was going to put money on it, I'd put my money on "Canadian Inuit Sheila Watt-Cloutier," who ever she is. (Actually, she's just as impressive and just as deserving.)

Besides, the Committee loves to grant the award to little known people toiling with "smaller" causes that have the potential to serve as models across the globe. How many people know who Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and Jose Romas-Horta are or why they won the Nobel Peace Prize? What about Jody Williams? Wangari Maathai? Muhammad Yunus? They've all won the award in the last 10 years.

Gore will have his time, it's just not now.

MORE: Some more possible nominees:

[O]thers with a chance included former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, a perennial nominee for decades of peace mediation work, and dissident Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Do for his pro-democracy efforts.

His shortlist also includes Russian human rights lawyer Lidia Yusupova, who has fought for victims of war in Chechnya, and Rebiya Kadeer, an advocate for China's Uighur minority.

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