This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
The day after the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Office of the Prime Minister of Norway made false declarations about the head of the IPCC.
Stoltenberg, who leads that country’s Labour Party, is a former minister of the environment. In December 2007, he played a pivotal role in raising Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to undeserved heights.
The timeline looks like this. On Monday, December 10, Pachauri attended a Nobel ceremony in Oslo. At that ceremony, the UN body he has chaired since 2002 was awarded half of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (the other half went to Al Gore).
The very next day – Tuesday, December 11 – the Office of the Prime Minister of Norway issued a press release headlined Nobel Laureate Pachauri to join Stoltenberg to Antarctica. The subtitle read:
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rajendra K. Pachauri will join Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on a visit to the Norwegian Antarctic research station Troll, in mid January 2008.
In two lines, therefore, the Office of the Prime Minister of Norway made two declarations that everyone in Oslo surely knew were false. Pachauri is not a Nobel laureate. He, personally, did not win a Peace Prize.
His role during the Nobel ceremony was merely that of a figurehead. He was a human avatar, a placeholder for a UN bureaucracy that had been around for 14 years and produced three
two major reports prior to him becoming its chairman. As a statement issued by the IPCC itself makes clear, it is improper to call any of its officials a Nobel laureate or a Peace Prize recipient.
To this day, however, the online version of that press release includes a photo of Prime Minister Stoltenberg and Pachauri in the company of school children. The photo caption reads:
Pupils from Korsvoll School showed the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Pachauri and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg around in the “Klima X”-exhibition. [bold added]
Climate change discussions have always been replete with spin. This is one of the most egregious examples. In order to understand it, a bit of context is helpful.
First, Norway has a tiny population – a mere 5 million souls reside there. More than 60 of the world’s cities are more populous than that entire country. Second, Norway has a long tradition of left-leaning, Labour governments (the incoming, Conservative Prime Minister is the exception that proves this rule).
This means that much of Norway’s political, social, media, and academic establishment is decidedly left-leaning. The Norwegian Nobel committee, the body that selects Peace Prize recipients, is a product of that milieu.
In 2007, the committee awarded the Peace Prize to Al Gore and the IPCC even though their contribution to world peace is speculative rather than concrete. If one believes climate change will lead to more war – a hotly debated idea amongst those who research such matters – the efforts of Gore and the IPCC may prevent hypothetical conflicts from arising.
should hypothetically dramatic climate change transpire.
(In its wisdom, the committee two years later bestowed the same prize on Barack Obama. He’d been in office for less than a year, but these people were already confident that his contribution to world peace would be momentous.)
What this means, therefore, is that a committee dominated by left-leaning individuals in a small, left-leaning country made a deliberate decision to enhance the profile and prestige of the IPCC by honouring it with the 2007 Peace Prize. Most news reports about the IPCC still mention that prize.
But that wasn’t good enough. The very next day, the left-leaning Prime Minister of that same country issued a press release exaggerating and distorting the matter. Stoltenberg falsely told the world that Pachauri was himself a laureate. A kernel of truth, spun by a Prime Minister, became the basis of an urban legend.
Six years later, the Internet is saturated with news stories, press releases, blog posts, and videos all falsely describing Pachauri as a Peace Prize winner.
Why wasn’t this bizarre and unnecessary fiction shut down immediately? Does the average Norwegian think it’s OK to call people Nobel laureates when they’re not? What about the average Norwegian journalist? Or the Nobel organization itself?
The willingness of so many of us to go along with this charade should ring alarm bells. It suggests there’s something about climate change that causes us to lose our moral bearings.
the Prime Minister’s press release is backed up here