Although Al Gore may have been the more glamorous of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates, he lacks his co-winner’s Carleton connection. Gore shared the prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes third year Carleton student Chris Dole’s father, Randy Dole.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in equal parts to Al Gore and the IPCC for their work on climate change and promoting awareness of it.
“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,” states the Nobel Committee in its press release. “By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to 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.”
While Al Gore is seen as the most eminent public figure working for protection against man-made climate change, the IPCC is a large organization with thousands of individuals from over 100 countries involved in its proceedings and negotiations. As a result, the organization has been instrumental in developing a scientific consensus on the subject of man-made climate change.
Randy Dole, is one of the many scientists involved in the IPCC. His role, as an expert reviewer of the report on the physical science basis for climate change and as one of three lead climate science experts on the U.S. delegation to the meeting on the final report, places him in the thick of the international negotiations that define the project.
“16-18 hour days were the rule,” Dole explains, “At the same time, my role, and the role of the other scientists on the U.S. delegation, was to ensure that the final report reflected as accurately as possible the state of science. I feel that this objective was accomplished.” The result is that policymakers are given an accurate international consensus about climate change from which to act. In this way, the IPCC provides a crucial awareness of climate change to the world, an effort that is echoed in the awarding of the Nobel Prize.
“The award highlights the enormity of the challenge that the world faces because of global climate change… As a Nobel Peace Prize, it highlights that global climate change has fundamental implications for future political stability and peace for the world,” Dole said.
“Although I’m honored, honestly it is the issue of climate – and more generally, environmental – change that is far more important to be recognized,” Dole said. Chris adds, though, that it is a great accomplishment for his father.
“I’m thrilled that his work and the work of so many others has been recognized in such an important way,” he states. “We’re all incredibly proud of him.” Despite this pride for his father, Dole doesn’t see himself following in his father’s footsteps. “I’m very definitely an English major,” he claims. However, he acknowledges that global warming can sometimes make its way to talk at the dinner table, and that it holds an interest for him.
Since many people at Carleton share an interest in climate change issues, it seems appropriate, though, that others might have an interest in doing what they can to help. On this subject Randy Dole is convincing.
“As in any issue, learn as much as you can. Ultimately, actions will be based on individual values. A good understanding can help you determine how important this issue is to you and your generation,” he suggests, explaining that actions now, though seemingly ineffective, will have great results, either positive or negative in the future.
The fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to champions of preventing climate change seems an encouraging start, and the involvement of one Carleton parent may serve as an inspiring touch for the involvement of students as well.
“To address the issue of global climate change, it is imperative that the approach be proactive, because even without further inputs of greenhouse gases, our climate will continue to change due to past inputs over the rest of our lives, as well as those of our children and grandchildren,” Dole explains, suggesting that just a shift in attitude, such as the one represented by this award, will be the first step towards making a difference.