He was vice president for eight years. He's got an Emmy for his Current TV network and an Oscar for his global-warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth." But now Al Gore needs to make some room on his trophy shelf for one of the world's most honorific pieces of bling: a Nobel Peace Prize.
Along with the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Gore was the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, it was announced Friday (October 12), "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change," according to the Norwegian organization's Web site.
Gore spoke with reporters on Friday after winning the prize, saying, "This is just the beginning. Now is the time to elevate global consciousness about the challenges that we face. ... We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."
Gore and the IPCC will each be given a commemorative gold medal, a share of the $1.5 million prize and a diploma at the award ceremony, which will be held in Oslo, Norway, on December 10. The honor puts Gore on a short list of other famous Americans who have won the prize, including the Rev. Martin Luther King (1964), former Presidents Jimmy Carter (2002), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Theodore Roosevelt (1906); and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1973).
Gore said he will donate his share of the prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the urgency of finding a solution to the climate crisis.
"Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians," read the statement from Ole Danbolt Mjoes, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awarded the prize. He also pointed to Gore's decades-long commitment to raising alarms about the importance of preserving the environment. "He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."
By awarding the prize to Gore and the IPCC, the Nobel committee said it was seeking to put a "sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world's future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control."
Mjoes also praised the IPCC for the scientific reports it has issued over the past 20 years that have created a growing consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming.
"Indications of changes in the Earth's future climate must be treated with the utmost seriousness, and with the precautionary principle uppermost in our minds," Mjoes added. "Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migration and lead to greater competition for the Earth's resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on the world's most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states."
The win by Gore is likely to increase the drumbeat that has been rising over the past few weeks of supporters urging him to join the presidential race. Gore, 59, who lost a bitterly contested election to eventual President George Bush in 2000, has repeatedly stated that he does not wish to run for president again. But just this week a group calling itself the "Draft Gore" movement took out a full-page ad in The New York Times encouraging the run, with the plea, "Your country needs you now, as do your party and the planet you are fighting so hard to save."
Gore has spent the years since his electoral defeat crisscrossing the globe to deliver the PowerPoint-style presentation on which "An Inconvenient Truth" is based, and sounding the alarm about global warming through events like last summer's global Live Earth concerts.
[This story was originally published at 8:34 am E.T. on 10.12.2007]