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A tale of two Nobel Peace Prize winners

By Dennis T. Avery
web posted October 12, 2009

I was still mourning the loss of my friend, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, at age 95, and reminiscing on his magnificent life when the news flashed across the wires that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009. What a startling contrast!

Dr. Borlaug literally saved a billion people from starvation, and his high-yield farming systems are still feeding the hungry and saving millions of hectares of wildlife habitat from being plowed for low-yield crops. "Food wars" such as Hitler's 1941 invasion of Russia for "living room" and Japan's 1931 invasion of Manchuria for soybean fields were rendered needless and counterproductive. Any of those Borlaug achievements would have been worth the Peace Prize, but his achieving all three together was incredible.

In 2007, the Peace Prize went to Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The awards ceremony was hardly over before the global temperatures turned downward, essentially falsifying all those learned predictions of runaway warming triggered by burning fossil fuels. It's not just that the global temperature is declining, it's that the world has never seen any evidence of the runaway warming they predicted. The world's sea ice has been stable for 30 years, and the Antarctic is gaining 45 billion tons of ice per year. Worse, the UN's Nobel Peace Prize seems to have rested on a few tree rings in the Sierra and in Siberia that turned out to be aberrations.  

Gore's Nobel contribution was especially iffy, since his Inconvenient Truth told us the Antarctic ice record showed higher CO2 levels inevitably led to higher temperatures. Research, even then, had already documented the reality that past temperatures in the Antarctic have changed 800 years before the CO2 levels! Gore had it backwards and must have known it! Does he have to give back the Nobel and but keep the Oscar for his acting? 

I don't want to demean President Obama, a young politician whose career is still pretty much in front of him. In fact, he'd been in office less than two weeks when this year's Peace Prize nominations closed! This was not so much Obama winning the Peace Prize as the Norwegian award committee petulantly hitting President Bush with the "bad war prize" as he left the White House.

So far, despite the Obama rhetoric, he has mainly led the United States into a massive debt load that may well have delayed our economic recovery from the worst slump since the Great Depression. "Bush's war" in Iraq has freed that country from a vicious dictator who was destabilizing a whole tinder-box region. Iraq has now been able to conduct free elections, and U. S. troops will be home in less than a year. By all standards, this is a win for both Iraq and for the security of the world. Meanwhile Obama's "necessary war" in Afghanistan is threatening to burst into open flames, fueled by opium money and the Taliban, al Qaeda's erstwhile allies.

The Iranians continue to openly defy the UN in pursuit of nuclear weapons, which they threaten to drop on Israel. Kim Jong-Il in North Korea feels slighted that his own nuclear blackmail is taking a back seat to Ahmadinejad.   

Obama's place in history is still on the drawing-board of history. For our country's sake, I hope he achieves something worthwhile during the next three years. But, he hasn't yet; and  hadn't even unpacked 12 days after the inauguration when he was nominated for the 2009 Nobel.

This year's award only reinforces the impression that the once-honored Peace Prize has degenerated into a political harangue. ESR

Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.  He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net.


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