Nassau, Bahamas (PressExposure) August 03, 2009 -- The inheritors of the Nobel legacy are championing a new award that is designed to promote renewable energy and tackle global warming.
The four great-grandchildren of Ludvig and Robert Nobel, the two elder brothers of Alfred, inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel Prize, set up the Nobel Charitable Trust (NCT) in the hope of leveraging the prestigious family name.
The NCT has three core objectives, including the creation of an international award bearing the Nobel name to honour those individuals or groups most proactive at tackling climate change, the holding of an alternative energy conference and the funding of scholarships in alternative energy development.
In an interview with GCEM, Gustaf Nobel explained the NCT's origins and objectives further.
The opening of the NCT's mission statement gives a clear idea of some of the concerns that led the trust's founders down their chosen path.
"The economic and social health of our civilisation as a whole directly depends on the availability and consumption of freely accessible and relatively inexpensive energy. Almost 90% of this is being met by non-renewable sources, of which over 60% derives from hydrocarbons, with an assurance of an increase in the years to come. Alternative renewable energy sources, on the other hand, only account for a small percentage of the worldwide energy usage today and for the foreseeable future."
The statement continues: "The four founders ... have with great concern seen the resulting depletion of oil and gas resources as well as other non-renewable supplies. This over-consumption has been accompanied by increases in the average global temperature and the pollution of land, water and air."
This awareness of an approaching energy crisis coupled with grave environmental changes prompted Gustaf, along with brothers Philip and Peter and cousin Michael, to muse on the question: "What can we do to help in the present [environmental] crisis?" This musing gave birth to the trust, on whose board of trustees all four sit, alongside David Lee and David Matsumoto.
The annual award would consist of a medal, a diploma and (at this stage) a small sum of money. Its recipients would fall into four categories. The first would be those individual scientists and/or institutions who had "made important discoveries in the renewable energy field or whose discoveries could lead to the reduction in pollution and global warming," according to the mission statement.
The next class would comprise those "corporate leaders or companies who have demonstrated successful efforts in finding new commercial solutions in the energy field in order to reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy and its resulting side-effects." The third group would include politicians or "policy-makers who have distinguished themselves by implementing policy actions in order to reduce non-renewable energy consumption, pollution and warming of the earth's atmosphere."
The fourth and final category, deemed the most innovative, would consist of "public advocacy representatives" -celebrities - "who, by using their position as public figures and opinion leaders, substantially helped influence the public of the need for alternative and renewable energy sources, as well as encourage attempts at efforts in the reduction of global warming."
Nobel told GCEM that in order to provide encouragement to young innovators in the renewable sector in particular, the aim was to make recognition more immediate wherever possible, so that awards being handed out merely for "long service" could be avoided.
A jury of "neutral" distinguished experts, who would also be responsible for determining the selection criteria, would select the worthy candidates and an eventual winner.
Initially, the four Nobels might be involved in choosing the first members of the panel. The financial component of the award would not be that significant in the early stages, but there remains an opportunity for potential sponsors to become involved and if this were to happen then that situation could change. As far as timing and location were concerned, the first medals could be presented as early as next year, although the location of the ceremony is yet to be decided.
The NCT is also tasked with the organisation of an annual or biennial energy conference. It might be named "The Ludvig Nobel Energy Conference" in honour of the memory of Nobel's progenitor. It would have "a focus on renewable energy sources, ways of combating energy pollution and global warming, with participants from major suppliers and consumers of such energy sources as well as scientists and legislators. It will look into the future rather than describe the present."
The location of the first conference might well be Baku, Azerbaijan, given the family's history and strong association with the country. Indeed, given that connection it may also prove the perfect setting for the first Energy Award ceremony.
The third NCT objective will be the establishment of alternative energy development scholarships. The group hopes to channel any additional funding left over from the establishment of the first two to "young scientists who have, within the fields of renewable energy, and pollution and global warming reduction, made significant discoveries but who lack the necessary resources to develop their innovations."
Nobel was keen to stress the equal weight the NCT would attach to academic endeavour and innovations made in a commercial environment. Nobel vs. Nobel?
In these days of jealous guardianship of commercial advantage, even the use of a well-known family name can provoke hostile reaction from others organisations that also carry the same name. It is therefore important to clarify that the activities of the NCT are in no way connected with those of the Nobel Foundation, whose remit covers the annual award of the five prizes catered for in Alfred Nobel's will. (The sixth prize for economics carries the Nobel name, but is actually awarded by the Swedish National Bank.) In other words, the award being proposed by the four Nobels is not another Nobel Prize. The closing words from the mission statement sum up the Nobels' attitude:
"By [setting up the NCT and its objectives] we, the founders, will attempt to contribute to the solution of some of the most urgent and important problems of the energy crisis facing mankind and our planet in the centuries to come. It behooves each of us to try to help alleviate the problems of decreasing energy supplies, global warming and pollution of the earth, and it is the founders' hope and belief that their efforts will contribute to that."