"What is the use of a house, if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
-- Henry David Thoreau
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 went to former Vice President Al Gore and a joint global agency because they've been instrumental in bringing the global warming message home.
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr., 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," said Professor Ole Danbolt Mjoes, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, announcing the award on November 12.
The IPCC was formed in 1998 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to address climate change on a global level.
The IPCC's series of "Climate Change" reports provides the basis for much of Al Gore's Oscar-winning 2006 Inconvenient Truth documentary (still No. 16 on Amazon's DVD sales chart) and book by the same name.
The work of the two is notable because prior to presenting IPCC's work in documentary form, global warming was often considered quackery, political conspiracy and down right fabrication.
For years after the IPCC's first report, the media, attempting to be fair and balanced, often gave naysayers as much ink as the scientists. Critical scientists say the media's initial reaction to IPCC reports delayed what today has become wide spread acceptance and efforts to stop the effects of global warming.
Greenhouse gasses are the culprit and humans play a large part. Burning fossil fuels -- gasoline in motor vehicles, heating oil in homes, coal in factories -- among other actions, contribute to the gasses. Greenhouse gasses cause the planet to heat up and that results in climate change -- hotter summers, colder winters and more severe storms, according to the IPCC and similar scientific groups.
Fifty years from now, The World According To Al Gore doesn't include much of Manhattan, the Florida Peninsula, the San Francisco Bay Area or other coastal and low-lying regions where, within a half century, homes could be under 20 feet of water as oceans swell from glacier-melting temperatures.
Other reports have reveal higher temperatures are creating more drought, heatwaves and desert sprawl.
Since Gore borrowed a page from Hollywood drama and created Oscar-winning documentary, more attention has been given to where and how communities are planned and developed, to "greener" more sustainable conservation-minded lifestyles and, at the individual level, to where to live -- or not to live.
"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. 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," said Mjoes during the prize announcement.
The Nobel committee said IPCC, using scientific data during the past two decades has created a consensus about the connection between human activities, global warming and the consequences.
Gore was noted for his tireless efforts as "one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians."
"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 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. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control," Mjoes said.
Half of Gore's $1.5 million prize was slated for the Palo Alto, CA-based Alliance for Climate Protection where he was scheduled to speak the day the award was announced.
Gore co-founded the Alliance, a bipartisan, non-profit organization, as a vehicle for raising money to encourage Americans to find ways to address global warming.