Global Warming Takes Center Stage

Former Vice President Al Gore shared his Nobel Peace Prize with thousands of climatologists.

Environmentalists say the award is evidence that the movement to fight global warming has finally come of age -- and they say it's been a long time coming.

When ABC News caught up with climatologist Robert Corell in a Massachusetts diner, he predicted joy among scientists with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Nobel co-winner that assesses scientific information to better understand climate change.

"When Nancy called me and screamed in the telephone the message about Al and IPCC, I mean, it's hard for me not pull over on the road and yell, 'YAAAY!'," Corell said. "Probably 10,000 or 15,000 scientists involved in IPCC will be joyous."

Joyous because scientists have been far more worried than anyone about global warming, finding it is far more dangerous and coming much more quickly than they expected.

Many scientists sharing the prize have complained the only thing now missing was leadership. Some say there is symbolism in being linked by the Nobel to the world's most visible leader on the issue.

"If you want to go quickly, go alone," Gore said as he accepted the award. "If you want to go far, go together. Now, we have to go far -- quickly."

Michael Oppenheim, Princeton climatologist, said he is excited about the publicity but said the recognition is a long-time coming.

"Al Gore is absolutely unique," Oppenheim said. "He is unique among political leaders for having focused on this problem for almost 30 years."

In that time, the movement to fight global warming has evolved with Al Gore from what seemed a fringe liberal cause to a cause celebre around him.

"He was a voice that was often seen as a political voice," Corell said, "but when you talk to him, this is visceral, this is inside his being."

Gore's persistence has won him a devoted following fighting, together, what Gore calls "an inconvenient truth."

Gore continues to deny speculation that he will seek a presidential nomination, and seems content acting as a citizen activist.

"At this point, he's saying that he's not going to run," said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman of the WaterKeeper Alliance, "so I think we have to look for leadership someplace else."

While Kennedy said he thinks all of the Democratic candidates have said the right things about global warming, none of them have set forth concrete plans.

Kennedy said he will support Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election.

"I think she has the strongest record on the environment of any of the candidates," he said.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...