This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to German scientist Gerhard Ertl for his work on surface chemistry. The BBC and Globe and Mail both highlighted the environmental applications of his work: catalytic converters, hydrogen fuel cells, and the understanding of why the ozone layer is diminishing.
There was already an environmental link for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, with both climate change campaigners Al Gore and Sheila Watt-Cloutier being nominated (separately, I assume). The relevance of the environment to peace and security is obvious, so I see there being a good case for both of them.
Do I think Al Gore should get the peace prize? I have not seen An Inconvenient Truth, so I can't comment on the movie itself. But he certainly has had a large role in bringing global warming (and global warming science) to the forefront of our minds and political discourse - 2007 has definitely been the year for climate change.
The movie has its fans and opponents: the RealClimate crew say he got the science right, others say he didn't. This week, a judge in England ruled that the movie could be shown in schools, although it must be prefaced by guidance highlighting some factual errors, and the alternative arguments. The factual errors identified, however, are largely related to the current and future impacts of climate change - not the assertion that humans are largely responsible to recent warming.
Given Al Gore's links to the US Democratic Party, I am concerned that his winning the Nobel Prize for Peace would only serve to further politicize the climate change debate - in the US particularly. He often presents a stark and alarmist view of the future under global warming, his popularity is driven by his obvious charisma and personality, and finally, he isn't a scientist. Climate change is a topic worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize (and one in Chemistry or Physics), but right now my vote would be on Watt-Cloutier. We find out tomorrow!