Al Gore at long last stands to be recognized for his great efforts on behalf of humanity. The fiery prophet of warming is favored for the Nobel Peace Prize.
It makes sense. If you read the list of Nobel Peace Prize winners, you’ll see King Canute, king of England, Norway and other parts Nordic, is also on the list. It’s right there, posthumous, 1035 AD. Go ahead, have a look.
Well, I thought I saw it there. Legend has it Canute got one. Not for stopping the tide … Canute was actually trying to point out that was a silly idea, and pointedly failed … but for bringing peace to his realm.
But that was a different, less subtle, more direct era.
In that earlier time, to be recognized for establishing peace, one actually had to establish some. Canute did it mainly through liberal application of the battle ax in addition to judicious yak-yak. Today, a more sophisticated Nobel Prize Committee generally is more interested in empty, fraudulent or hypocritical gestures. Any demonstrable relation to actual peace, unnecessary.
Which makes Gore a perfect candidate on all counts. It is perhaps preferable that he has not contributed to any identifiable peace. That renders the award unassailable, and ensures there will be no aggrieved party to squawk about the terms under which peace was imposed.
The ideal Nobel laureate does not grubby his fingers with actual peacemaking, but is preferred to have simply created the impression, through dramatic gestures, of being keenly interested in peace. One must also represent a philosophy acceptable to the committee. So, for example, the pleasant and adorable commie dictator Mikhail Gorbachev gets one for capitulating in the Cold War, but the jingoistic B-movie actor Ronald Reagan, who some observers suggest may have compelled and coaxed Gorbachev to do so, did not.
It is not necessary to be pure of motive and deed. So, for example, the corrupt terrorist Yasser Arafat gets one, as does former UN Secretary, nepotist and facilitator of corruption Kofi Annan. One may also have set the terms for war through appeasement of bellicose parties, hence the awards for Jimmy Carter and Mohammed el-Baradei. Gore, whose transgressions in the field of global warming would appear to be limited to exaggeration and distortion of evidence, and the maintenance of excessively carbon-burning estates and fleets of vehicles, barely squeaked by under the strictest standards of hypocrisy and uselessness.
As a quasi-religious icon who actually has very little to do with peace, Gore might be seen to have more in common with actual religious icon Mother Teresa. But the Catholic nun, who often spoke admiringly of peace, came dangerously close to ruining her chances by actually dirtying her hands tending to the poor, the sick, the wretched in a slum in Calcutta. Gore is in no such danger.
The Nobel Prize Committee is venturing into bold new territory if it gives the nod to a Gore laureate. Rather than lauding imaginary or failed peaces past and present, it will be recognizing the peace in a conflict that has not occured, may never occur, and crediting an effort that may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with the cause of that hypothetical conflict … an effort couched in terms that even the faithful suggest was a tad overstated.
Anyway, it’s not like it hasn’t gotten warm before. And while the temperature may or may not be edging up, now more or less to the level it was at the time of Jesus, the role of human activity is highly debatable, or should be. In any case, global-warming enthusiasts tell us, at this point it is a matter of damage done: The water level is rising, SUVs or no SUVs. Which would suggest that the hypothetical peace to which Gore is theoretically contributing is actually unattainable.
But Gore’s battle with the forces of nature on behalf of beleaguered humanity, or if you prefer, with the forces of humanity on behalf of beleaguered nature, or with the forces of nature and humanity on behalf of beleaguered nature and humanity –it really doesn’t matter, for in this debate, one simply must state terms in order to make them so–, will stand as a brave contest unparalleled since Canute commanded the waves to halt. We could go back to Moses, who actually parted the sea, at least as convincingly as Gore has contributed to world peace, but that involved the reprehensible oppression of a sovereign pharaoh and interference with his defense forces in execution of national security duties, hence his absence on the Nobel roster. If halting the advance of the tide is an act of peace, then cynics might say the hard-headed Dutch as a practical matter have done more on behalf of the dove and the olive branch. But that’s a petty local engineering project, and Gore is, symbolically, with great fanfare, according to him, saving the entire world.
If Canute, petty medieval peacemaker, entered the annals of legend simply by trying to show his sycophantic courtiers he was only human, Gore has set himself a far more ambitious task. To demonstrate to all that he is legendary, and can command nature, perhaps as such even qualified to a position of actual leadership over humans. A Nobel will ennoble this noble quest.
Jules Crittenden is a Boston Herald editor and blogs at Forward Movement.