[Letter to the editor] Nobel brings environment to the foreThe Nobel Peace Prize went to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore on October 12. As a student who has just started environmental studies and who realizes the serious nature of climate change issues, I more than welcome these winners.
This is not the first time the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is from the environmental field. Three years ago, Wangari Muta Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. In addition to this, there has been a discussion going on among the Norwegian people that a Nobel Environmental Prize should be added to the current Nobel Prize. As we can see from these, environmental issues are very important and a crisis faced by the entire world.
Some people criticize Gore for inconsistency between his words and action. Last year he reportedly used 20 times more electricity than the normal American family’s average. William Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, criticized Gore for speaking, not acting -- criticism stemming from Gore’s political background as a major Democratic Party politician.
As an environmental activist, I think Gore has been doing the most important work on environmental issues. The essential conditions of the environment are being recognized now, alarming the people. Arousing people’s attention on environmental issues can lead to action in helping the environment, such as reducing carbon emissions. Thus, Gore’s clear message, and his film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” are good methods to educate people.
Environmental issues are national security issues that are threatening people’s lives and existence. According to Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, “The Nobel Peace Prize provides the opportunity for clearly indicating that climate change is something that needs attention, which is a serious problem. Therefore it requires urgent attention, from the world and the global community.”
As we can see from the examples of previous Nobel Peace Prize winners, after receiving prestigious Nobel Prizes, Kim Dae-Jung and Aung San Suu Kyi have brought concerns about North Korea and Burma to the attention of the global community. In this sense, the IPCC and Gore’s Nobel Prize tells us that it is time for global concern about climate change.
Yoon Jung-ah, graduate student, American University, Washington, D.C.