Nobel Makes Global Warming a Hot Policy Topic

After burying skeptics under mounds of Nobel Peace Prize-worthy research, members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change push for serious government action.Scientist Elisabeth Holland learned that she had won a share of the Nobel Peace Prize while walking through O’Hare Airport in Chicago in October.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “was the subtext on CNN,” said Holland, who had helped write reports for the panel known as the IPCC. “The report was mostly about Al Gore (with whom IPCC shared the Nobel).”

What IPCC, a huge consortium of scientists, had done didn’t really sink in until Holland returned to her office at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

“Us receiving the Nobel Prize are the facts speaking for themselves,” she concluded.

The information Holland and her colleagues assembled may well have put the last nail in the coffin of global warming deniers.

That was one reason why Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter showed up at the atmospheric research center Monday to honor scientists from the state who worked on the IPCC.

The panel’s work could combine with the Nobel’s prestige to at long last spur the United States to act seriously on a man-made planetary environmental crisis.

So Holland brought her daughters to Monday’s celebration to get “a good glimpse of politics.”

Fellow IPCC member Tingjun Zhang did the same thing.

“We try to deliver what we find,” said Zhang of the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. “There is evidence of global warming. This is happening. This is serious. We want for people to follow the facts, follow the truth.

“I bring my daughter today to see how serious this is. So we can protect ourselves, protect our children, protect our grandchildren.”

Zhang’s 12-year-old daughter, Anna, said she never hears about global warming at school.

Holland’s 14-year-old daughter, also named Anna, has spent her middle school years trying to convince dubious classmates that trouble awaits future generations if action on global warming doesn’t start now.

“It bothers me when people say it isn’t true,” said Anna Holland, who has had to persuade far too many classmates about a scientific fact. “If we don’t start to do something about it, by the time it gets to our grandchildren it will be out of our hands.”

And yet the naysayers continue to bray – George Will in Newsweek opining on the harsh economic consequences of trying to control the man-made pollution that contributes to global warming, a columnist in the Denver Post saying schools shouldn’t teach “Gore’s fiction.”

Incredibly, Holland’s fiercest debate over global warming came when she judged Anna’s middle school science fair. Her foil was a fellow judge.

With the Nobel, folks like Holland and Zhang believe the scientific debate is finally over. The breadth of the scientific consensus on man’s contribution to global warming is international and so overwhelming that it begs only one question:

How to move forward.

“The majority of people realize we should take some action,” Zhang said. “Global warming is in the process. It’s not a cry-wolf issue. Scientists have to go and reach the community with the message and keep pressure from voters on senators and governors.”

And certainly presidents.

As newly minted Nobel laureate Elisabeth Holland correctly noted: “Every other country seems to get the issue of global warming in a way people in this country don’t.”

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Jim Spencer

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