Nobel prizewinner Gore: 'We are waging war on the earth itself'

Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize today and called on humanity to mobilise at once against the dangers of a changing climate.

During his his acceptance speech in Norway, Mr Gore said: “Without realising it, we have begun to wage war on the earth itself.

“Now, we and the earth’s climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: Mutually assured destruction. It is time to make peace with the planet.”

Mr Gore was awarded the prize for sounding the alarm over global warming and spreading awareness on how to counteract it.

He shared the prize with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was represented by its leader, Rajendra Pachauri.

The Nobel prizes for medicine, chemistry, physics, literature and economics were being presented in a separate ceremony today in Stockholm, Sweden.

Mr Gore, a former US vice president, accepted the Nobel gold medal and diploma at a gala ceremony in the Oslo city hall. He urged government officials meeting in Bali, Indonesia, to quickly draft a treaty to limit emissions of the gases that cause climate change, as a follow-up to the 1997 Kyoto accord.

Mr Gore and Mr Pachauri will leave for Bali on Wednesday.

“I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty,” Mr Gore said.

In a speech that evoked Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and the Bible, Mr Gore said the world’s biggest polluters, the US and China, must stop blaming each other for the stalemate over warming.

Instead, they must take the lead in solving a problem for which they bear a large responsibility, he said, or be “accountable before history for their failure to act.”

He drew a parallel between leaders ignoring the climate crisis and those whom former prime minister Mr Churchill lambasted for inaction as Adolf Hitler built up Nazi Germany before the Second World War.

“Too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: ’They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent’,” Mr Gore said.

To meet the new “planetary emergency,” Mr Gore said, “We must quickly mobilise our civilisation with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilised for war.”

Although Mr Pachauri described the threat largely in measured, scientific terms, he too described a grim fate for the planet if the emission of greenhouse gasses is not limited. A warming climate could lead to flooding of low-lying countries, disruptions to food supply, the spread of diseases and the loss of biodiversity, he said.

“Neglect in protecting our heritage of natural resources could prove extremely harmful for the human race and for all species that share common space on Planet Earth,” Mr Pachauri said in his speech. “It is within the reach of human society to meet these threats.”

Before presenting the award to Mr Gore and Mr Pachauri, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel awards committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, praised them for moving climate to the top of the world agenda.

“We thank you for what you have done for Mother Earth,” Mr Mjoes said.

Gore’s wife, Tipper, who was in the audience with their four children, smiled broadly when Mr Gore accepted the award. The audience, including Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja, rose for sustained applause.

The prize includes 10 million Swedish kronor (£800,000), shared equally between the winners. The celebrations will include a torch-light parade and banquet today and the Nobel peace concert tomorrow.

Mr Gore urged world leaders to put a new climate treaty in place by 2010 – two years earlier than planned. Heads of state should meet every three months to negotiate the treaty because global warming must be slowed, he said.

The Nobel Prizes, first awarded in 1901, are presented on December 10 each year, the anniversary of the death of their creator, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.

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