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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Speech: Al Gore Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

Al Gore, who should be ending his second term as President of the United States, yesterday accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize that he shares with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. The video above shows his entire acceptance speech. You can read the text version at his website, AlGore.com.

Gore opened his speech with a reference to the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that denied him the presidency. "Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken - if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose. Unexpectedly that quest has brought me here."

Some highlights from the speech:

We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.

However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”

Gore and Dr. R. K. Pachauri, who accepted the award on behalf of the UNIPCC

... So today, we dumped another 70 million tons of global-warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow, we will dump a slightly larger amount, with the cumulative concentrations now trapping more and more heat from the sun.

As a result, the earth has a fever. And the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself. We asked for a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And the consistent conclusion, restated with increasing alarm, is that something basic is wrong. We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.

... Indeed, without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself. Now, we and the earth's climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: "Mutually assured destruction."

... As the American poet Robert Frost wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice.” Either, he notes, “would suffice.” But neither need be our fate. It is time to make peace with the planet. We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war. These prior struggles for survival were won when leaders found words at the 11th hour that released a mighty surge of courage, hope and readiness to sacrifice for a protracted and mortal challenge.

... Now comes the threat of climate crisis – a threat that is real, rising, imminent, and universal. Once again, it is the 11th hour. The penalties for ignoring this challenge are immense and growing, and at some near point would be unsustainable and unrecoverable. For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion?

... We must understand the connections between the climate crisis and the afflictions of poverty, hunger, HIV-Aids and other pandemics. As these problems are linked, so too must be their solutions. We must begin by making the common rescue of the global environment the central organizing principle of the world community.

... But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters — most of all, my own country –– that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act. Both countries should stop using the other’s behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.

... The future is knocking at our door right now. Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: “What were you thinking; why didn’t you act?” Or they will ask instead: “How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?”

We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource. So let us renew it, and say together: “We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.”

December 11, 2007 at 08:53 AM in Energy, Environment | Permalink


Thank you for posting this. And as any of us here know, he addressed what he had first shared with us when he learned of the latest news, when he was speaking in Rio Rancho in October. That we may only have 7 years to act.

His words were so powerful, and I did not know, until watching the entire ceremony that Cspan provided, that he audience did give him a standing ovation. I needed a lot of tissue watching his speech.

12/10/2007 7:00:00 AM
Former Vice Pres. Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri Awarded with Nobel Peace Prize
Former Vice President Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are jointly awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. The two recipients, recognized for their efforts on climate change, speak at the Nobel ceremony in Oslo City Hall. 01:08.
Oslo, Norway


Posted by: Linda | Dec 11, 2007 4:06:49 PM

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