If Oslo Then Copenhagen
Yesterday, President Obama, while acknowledging that he did not feel that he deserved to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures, said that he would accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the American people. His aides indicated that he will travel to Oslo to receive the award on December 10. If he goes to Oslo, then he must attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference underway that very week in Copenhagen, just 300 air miles away, and demonstrate that
American leadership is back by offering significant and tangible commitments.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee practically issued the invitation. While announcing the award in recognition of the President's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," it also noted that, thanks to his initiative, "the U.S. is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting." As David Ignatius observed in The Post today, the Nobel Committee was expressing a collective sigh of relief that this country has rejoined the global consensus, even if this feeling is founded more on aspiration than achievement.
I sense this relief among my fellow scientists around the world. Because American science has contributed so much to our understanding of the threat of global climate change and identification of the steps required to moderate it, they have been
dismayed and disappointed that our government has not taken a more active role
to address this urgent challenge. As IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri said at the U.N. last month: "Science leaves us no space for inaction."
The Nobel award reflects an admiration for our national character and sense of purpose and a realization of dependence on American leadership. With regard to climate change as well as world peace, its message to our President and our nation is welcome back, we
urgently need you.
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