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Striving for peace

St. Olaf College hosted the 21st annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum March 6-7. The Forum was entitled “Striving for Peace: A Climate for Change” and honored the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC and Gore in 2007. They were honored for their role in spreading awareness of human contributions to climate change, as well as encouraging countries, corporations, organizations, and individuals to take measures to counteract climate change.

“Honoring the IPCC…in essence can be seen as a clarion call for the protection of the earth as it faces the widespread impacts of climate change,” said IPCC Chairman R.K. Pachauri in a 2007 Nobel lecture.

This year’s NPPF featured a peace fair, a concert by indie rock group Cloud Cult and several presentations and seminars by prestigious speakers. Notable lecturers included Dr. Richard Alley, a scientist in IPCC’s Working Group I and author of “The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future”; James Lyons, under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment in the Department of Agriculture during the Clinton administration; and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), member of several Senate committees that deal with energy issues and author of the American Renewable Energy Act.

“The wide range of activists, teachers, and scientists were astounding and well chosen for this year’s Peace Prize Forum, said sophomore attendee Marty Fankhanel.

Concordia had about 40 students attend this year’s NPPF. Sophomore Kari Foss attended to learn more about climate change and possible solutions to fix the problem.

“At first I didn’t understand how it had to do anything with peace, but then after the forum, I understood that without us helping to fix the climate change, many developing countries will be the ones that suffer,” Foss said, “and advocating climate change on the grand scale that the IPCC and Al Gore did was a way to help the developing world, and our world as well.”

Sophomore Casey DeRoo was inspired to check out the 2009 NPPF after having great experience when it was held at Concordia last year. DeRoo thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Alley’s lecture, and even had the opportunity to dine with him right after he delivered his presentation.

“He was an incredibly enthusiastic individual who clearly had a lot of passion for making complex science approachable, and I was surprised how much he knew outside of his area of expertise,” DeRoo said.

Alley also stood out to Foss, who thought he was a charismatic speaker “that you knew loved what his job was.” Alley showed attendees graphs and photographs of climate change throughout the world and explained that the climate had actually gotten worse than the IPCC’s worst possible predictions, which was “a scary thing” for Foss to hear.

Gore declared climate change “a planetary emergency” in a 2007 Nobel lecture, but said there is hope.

“We have the ability to solve this crisis, and avoid the worst, though not all, of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively, and quickly,” Gore said.

NPFF attendees seemed to be interested in rising to this challenge.

“Everyone there was excited to help our climate and overall make a better world to live in,” Foss said.

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