Down, Al, down
The news that Al Gore
has won the Nobel Peace Prize (with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
) may cause some to raise their eyebrows, but they shouldn't be surprised that the Nobel Committee has decided to draw the connection between protecting the environment and peace. That's because, three years ago, the Committee awarded the Prize to Wangari Maathai
, the Kenyan environmentalist and Lantern author
for her work in drawing the connections between sustainable use of resources, peace, and governmental responsibility.
The connections don't end there. In 1995, then Vice President Al Gore invited Wangari Maathai to fly over the devastated hillsides of Haiti to look at what happens when you cut down all the trees. They saw massive erosion and barren soil where once there had been extraordinary fertility. They each made a commitment to do something about it.
Well, life has a habit of getting in the way: Wangari was jailed some more times, ran for parliament, won, and has planted about fifteen million more trees in her native Kenya. She's also traveled the world, written her autobiography
, and is up for re-election this year. Gore, well, he also ran for office, failed to mention that the environment might be important, and was not selected by the Supreme Court. He was polite in non-defeat, put on weight, spoke out against the Gulf War, and then produced a movie
that won an Academy Award, he won an Emmy, and now he joins Wangari as a Nobel honoree.
When she won the Prize, Wangari noted that it was on behalf of Africa, women, and the environmentalists that she won. Gore noted that he was "honored." Prizes may go to the usual suspects or they may go to those who've toiled without recognition for decades, and who knows who really deserves what. But the winners know, and we, the un-prized should also, that, in the end, it's the work that endures.