What has Al Gore done for world peace?

Damian Thompson
The Telegraph

So Al Gore is the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Admittedly, he has to share it with the United Nations’ climate change panel - but, even so, I think we need to declare an international smugness alert.

The former US Vice-President has already taken over from Michael Moore as the most sanctimonious lardbutt Yank on the planet. Can you imagine what he'll be like now that the Norwegian Nobel committee has given him the prize?

More to the point, can you imagine how enormous his already massive carbon footprint will become once he starts jetting around the world bragging about his new title?

Just after Gore won an Oscar for his global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth - in which he asked American households to cut their use of electricity - the Tennessee Centre for Policy Research took a look at Al's energy bills.

It reckoned that his 20-room, eight-bathroom mansion in Nashville sometimes uses twice the energy in one month that the average American household gets through in a year. The combined energy and gas bills for his estate came to nearly $30,000 in 2006. Ah, say his defenders, but he uses rainwater to flush his lavatories. Is there enough rainwater in the world, I wonder?

There are so many reasons why Gore shouldn't have won the peace prize for his preachiness. Alas, it is too late to influence their decision, but I'd have liked to refer the judges to a ruling by Mr Justice Burton, a High Court judge who has criticised the Government for sending out An Inconvenient Truth to schools without a health warning. The reason? It's full of errors and unsubstantiated claims.

The judge is not saying that Gore's basic thesis is wrong (and nor am I). In a way, his findings are more damning than that.

Gore claims that the rises in carbon dioxide and temperature over 650,000 years show an "exact fit". That's wrong, says Mr Justice Burton: there is a connection, but not a precise correlation.

Gore predicts sea levels rising by up to 20ft in the near future. Not so, according to the judge: that will happen only after millions of years.

Those low-lying Pacific atolls that Gore claims have been evacuated? No evidence. Polar bears who drowned swimming to look for ice? Again, no evidence: four bears have drowned - but because of a storm.

None of which will surprise seasoned Gore-watchers. The man is not, as his enemies maintained when he ran against George W. Bush in 2000, a pants-on-fire liar. He's an exaggerator and a braggart.

He never claimed to have invented the internet; he said he "took the initiative in creating the internet", which is about a quarter true - he was among the first congressmen to support the invention.

In 1999, he boasted about having uncovered the most famous toxic waste site in America ("I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal"). Yes, but Love Canal was already notorious by the time Gore "found" it.

That's typical of his arrogance, says the non-partisan US politics website Skeleton Closet: "When he says the words 'little place', you can feel him struggling to contain his pleasure with his good deeds."

Gore struggles with his memory, too. "I certainly learnt a lot from 3,000 town hall meetings across …Tennessee over a 16-year period," he told National Public Radio. And so he would have, had he actually attended 187 town hall meetings a year, which is what it works out as: he might even have managed to hold his home state in 2000.

But my favourite Gore memory lapse is his account of being sung to sleep with the lullaby Look for the Union Label, written in 1975. How sweet: being sung to sleep by your parents at the age of 27.

Then there's his evasiveness on the subject of alleged ethical violations. He resorts to "legalisms", says Skeleton Closet: although he might technically be in the right, "he has such a tin ear for the way normal people talk that he sounds like a mafia don".

But there is a more fundamental objection to awarding Gore the peace prize that goes beyond issues of character. Climate change is a threat to the environment, not to "peace" and international order. The prize has gone to some sleazy recipients in the past, but at least you can make a case that their actions staved off bloodshed.

Lumping together global warming and terrorism, as David Cameron did in his conference speech, is a rhetorical sleight of hand typical of opportunistic politicians who are trying to hoover up liberal and conservative votes at the same time. I don't think that description applies to the Tory leader, but it sure as hell fits Albert Gore, Jr.