Saturday, 11 May 2013

Correcting some misinformation out there: the facts on the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

In order to discredit me, especially my arguments about the need for humanity to quickly reduce carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels, someone has accused me of falsely portraying myself as a Nobel laureate. I have never presented myself as a laureate. I was, indeed, a contributing author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, especially in the 1990s, and this organization was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore in 2007.

I remember lots of congratulatory e-mails, at the time, among leading authors of the IPCC and between us and people who appreciated our work. I later received an artsy, personalized certificate that recognized my contribution (see below) to the work of the IPCC that resulted in the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. I presume that all authors received this, as I have seen it framed on the walls of some of my colleagues. I received no instructions on how to present myself, but I never used the term laureate, which sounded inappropriate for the contribution of one individual among hundreds if not more than a thousand co-authors. In the years since, my CV and bio for public talks have said something like “contributor to the IPCC, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.”

However, I give a lot of public talks. My academic CV lists 163 public talks between early 2007 and early 2013. The people promoting my talks and works rarely confer with me before putting out an advertisement or press release, other than to ask for my bio. On a few occasions, they have mistakenly used the term laureate to describe me – without my permission. And, more recently, editors at the magazine, The Walrus, used this term in writing the sub-title of my article, “The Accidental Activist.” I should have noticed this, but did not as the title and sub-title were inserted right at the end of the 8-month writing and editing process. (My suggested title was very different, and I had no sub-title.)

In future, I will work harder to ensure that people do not refer to me as a Nobel laureate. But I cannot guarantee that someone will not mistakenly do so at some future time. I ask anyone who hears that I have misrepresented myself to please check the allegations carefully and then contact me. Like others, I have been subject to threats and various efforts to discredit me. I don’t expect this to stop any time soon.

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