- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

Just how did Al Gore get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? That question has been on the minds of people wondering what global-warming alarmism has to do with international peace. The short answer is that two Norwegian parliamentarians put him forward (as they told reporters nearly two months ago). The larger answer is that the selection process heavily favors precisely this event. That might have come as a surprise to Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who upon his death in 1896 willed his fortune for five prizes, including a peace prize with a highly specific purpose: To honor “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Then again, maybe not. The Nobel process is sufficiently expansive as to make nominations a looking glass of sorts for the era. Most current world ideas, some good, some bad, show up.

Start with the group of people who make the nominations. Generically, they are among the likeliest people on the planet to be well disposed to Mr. Gore’s message. The Storting, or Norwegian Parliament, begins the nomination process. It appoints the five members of the Norwegian Nobel Commitee. The committee then invites nominators secretly from among national assemblies, jurists, university deans and professors, foundation heads, former Nobelists and others previously associated with the committee. Nominators are secret for 50 years unless leaked by insiders privy to that knowledge (like Norwegian parliamentarians Boerge Brende and Heidi Soerensen, who announced Mr. Gore’s nomination).

Historically speaking, people who speak to issues of concern to the intelligenstia of the day get the honor. Sometimes they are prescient. Other times they are not. Still other times, history proves them disastrously wrong. The full range of nominees include Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro and other monsters of the modern world, as well as saints and heroes including Mother Theresa, Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. Now we have Al Gore.

Perusing the several hundred nominees of the late 1940s and 1950s (all are available at https://nobelprize.org), a few things stand out. The first is that history — political, social, economic — is highly visible here. The nominees include Winston Churchill, Helen Keller, George Marshall, Jawaharlal Nehru and other towering figures of the era.

The second is that the “ash heap” of history is quite literally present. In 1950, for instance, 25 of 77 total nominations went to two men, Clarence Steit and Emery Reves, two writer-activists, for “work to establish a world government.” Neither man won the award.

“Who doesn’t have a Noble Prize nomination?” asked Eugene Volokh in the Los Angeles Times in 1995 after convicted killer Stanley “Tookie” Williams received his.

Time will tell which category Mr. Gore falls into. If not the “world government” pile, then — we’d tend to think — somewhere comfortably far from Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr..

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