I cannot believe it took them sixteen years. Shameful.
Jokes aside, they really should just rename this thing the Nobel Prize for being a secular messiah and have done with it. Barack Obama won it, you might recall, after he announced that his election “was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal”. Now Ms Thunberg has been nominated, and, let’s face it, is dead certain to win, for saying that we have just twelve years left until Armageddon. How times change.
I am more than well aware that criticising the decision to give Ms Thunberg a nomination for the Nobel Prize will draw the ire of those who police every mention of her name to ensure that she is not being criticised, most especially by a white man like me who is approaching middle age. But to her credit, I imagine this means very little to her. I bet if you asked Ms Thunberg whether she would prefer a Nobel Prize or an 80% carbon tax and a ban on all meat products, she’d choose the latter every time. Whatever else you might think of her, she’s a true believer.
What’s more notable, I think, is the role of the Nobel Prize committee themselves. The Prize for Peace is supposed to go to those who have made a historic and notable contribution to, well, peace. Past winners, before the Obama embarrassment, include John Hume and David Trimble for their role in securing the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. Last year’s winner was a Congolese Gynaecologist, Denis Mugweke, who has devoted his life to performing surgery on those countless women who were injured by rape during the horrible Congolese war.
In fact, the brilliant work of Dr. Mugweke and other winners notwithstanding, the Nobel Prize has somewhat decreased in prominence since the award to Obama in 2008. If you don’t believe me, see if you can name three other winners since 2008, without googling it. I bet you’ll be hard pressed.
It’s at least likely that the committee has calculated that giving Ms. Thunberg the award will not only honour her work, but will also have the happy, and I’m sure entirely co-incidental, effect of raising the profile of the Nobel Peace Prize. Or perhaps I’m a cynic. You decide.
In any case, the pertinent question when it comes to Ms Thunberg really should be about how effective she has been. One of the major criticisms of presenting the award to Obama was that, well, he hadn’t really done anything other than win an election. As someone, I cannot remember who, said at the time, he won the Nobel Prize for not being George W. Bush. Whether they would have considered Obama for the award by 2016, after he racked up all those bombings in the middle east is of course an open question.
Greta Thunberg, like Obama, has not, in truth, accomplished much. She has achieved the attention of the media, and managed to get lots of people around the world to agree that the destruction of the planet would be bad – but did they really disagree with that before? The truth of the matter, and this remains very unpopular to say, of course, is that in terms of securing effective, real, measurable actions to accomplish the things she says she wants, she has achieved, even with all that support, diddly squat.
The Nobel Prize for peace will not, this year, go to someone who has done anything to advance the cause of world peace. But lots of people will feel good about it, and the Nobel Committee will be praised for it, and everyone will feel like something has changed.
And that, of course, is the most important thing.