algore12.jpg By Barbara Kessler

News of Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize on Friday sped around the world faster than a melting iceberg, setting off critics who carped that the former vice president is undeserving, but energizing fans, who buzzed about Gore’s improved chances should he enter the 2008 presidential race (considered not likely) and his new stature as the vindicated, most venerated statesman of climate change.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, received the news of the prize to Gore and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with a happy sigh and paused in their trenches to reflect on the implications.

“It is with extreme satisfaction that we receive the news that Gore and the IPCC have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Oystein Dahle, Chairman of the Board of Worldwatch Institute and a leading Norwegian environmentalist, in a news release titled “Planet Wins Nobel Peace Prize.”

“With their decision, the Nobel Committee has for the second time signaled that peace with the environment is an essential requirement if we are to have peace between human beings,” Dahle said, speaking from his home in Oslo where the Prize was announced.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) called the recognition of Gore and the scientists of the IPCC a fitting tribute. “Al Gore made it OK to talk about global warming over breakfast and dinner tables all across America. He made this unprecedented challenge understandable and the solutions accessible for millions of people. Breaking down the fear, the confusion and the misplaced hopelessness is the key to progress. An Inconvenient Truth has helped unlock doors from Washington to Sacramento, and all the way to Wall Street. Standing on the shoulders of thousands of hard-working scientists laboring to understand and explain the science, he cracked the popular culture code and put global warming at the center of a global spotlight,” Beinecke said.

And the IPCC answered the global warming “deniers” with “indisputable scientific proof” that human pollution is causing climate change, Beinecke said. “The IPCC proved once and for all that the catastrophic results of global warming will be upon us soon if we don’t take decisive action now to reduce our heat-trapping carbon pollution.”

Environmental Defense used the occasion to challenge Congress to pass comprehensive climate legislation.

“After Al Gore stands on the stage in Oslo to receive his award, I think the American public will turn to the leaders of both parties in the U.S. Congress to see where they stand,’’ said Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp. “The scientific evidence that the former vice president and the IPCC have helped drive home tells us there’s no consolation prize for Congress if it fails to act.”

Want to do your part to press Congress to pass climate change legislation? The National Wildlife Federation is running a campaign asking lawmakers to co-sponsor a pending climate change package. You can find out who among your U.S. representatives has signed on and who’s sitting out at the NWF’s Take Action page. California has the most co-sponsors signed up, but discouragingly, the sponsors and non-sponsors breakdown almost to a man and woman along party lines.

Want to see Al Gore run for president? Visit draftgore.com. (Thanks to draftgore for the use of the picture above.)

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