If one were to read too much into the rivals of Nobel Peace Prize winners, one could draw the most outlandish conclusions. Besides Bush’s climatic nemesis Al Gore, hundreds of scientists that have confirmed the existence of global warming have also won the award. In 2005 the award went to another nemesis of Bush, Mohamed El Baradei – who has as much morale as Alcoyano – for disputing the American thesis on Saddam’s alleged nuclear program. If these two opponents of Bush have contributed to world peace, do we infer that the President of the United States is a threat to world peace? Good God, no. What a leap!
The literal interpretation is the most sensible. Over the past thirty years, the winners have been agents of peace, political activists whose actions were critical to expanding justice, democracy and human rights, such as Nelson Mandela, Oscar Arias, Ann San Suu Kyi or Amnesty International. Lately though, the prize has been bestowed on those who investigate or spread awareness; winners have been associated with knowledge rather than action. Over the past three decades, only two Nobel Peace Prize winners have had a similar focus: In 1985 it went to the Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and in 1995 , to Joseph Rotblat , one of the scientists who signed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto against the proliferation of nuclear arms .
This puts the threat of climate change on the same plane as nuclear weapons. But above all, it is a disturbing indication of a vacuum in political life: the award has been bestowed on those who dedicate themselves to increasing awareness of the problem because none of the world’s leading decision-makers are doing so. Or in other words, we’re waiting for the Rigoberta Menchu of climate change. And we don’t have much time left to wait.
[Editor’s Note: Rigoberta Menchu won the 1992 Nobel Peace prize in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. In other words, helping to reconcile the descendents of European colonizers with native peoples ].