The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday, and this year the honor goes to former US vice-president Al Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their work on global warming. The Nobel Committee called Gore one of the world?s leading environmental politicians.

Dr. Ian Raper is national president of the Southern Africa Association for the Advancement Of Science. He?s also chair of the international advisory board for scientists in The Earth Organization. From Pretoria, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about Al Gore receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

?I was very pleased to hear it. Frequently, obviously, the people that receive the prize are very deserving. But the avenues in which they receive it aren?t always as directed towards our moral survival and the kind of thing that can unite all the nations, globally, looking after life on the planet?I think the Nobel Prize committee has done something absolutely wonderful to incentivize (sic) people to provide a role model, to make people aware that despite all our political conflicts and differences and so on we can really all work together and work on climate change and the other environmental matters,? he says.

Climate change has been a politically charged issue in the United States for many years. Dr. Raper comments on whether raising the issue to the Nobel Peace Prize level would settle the issue?

"I should certainly hope so, because there are going to be spin-offs of an environmental nature, which we?ll be looking at as well. Clearly, climate change is one of the most urgent, but there?s desertification problems and water pollution, all sorts of things. We?ve been very active in looking after the wildlife?so, if we can realize there?s one ultimate goal, which transcends all the rifts and the dissents and whatever to work just towards that kind of thing as human people,? he says.

Asked how he would rate the climate change issue from an African perspective, the scientist says, ?I think it?s an enormously urgent problem because the drought that is forecast and that is being sped-up by human climate change is unthinkable. The millions of people who are already living in poverty and with illnesses like AIDS and so on it can only go worse for them. And they?re obviously firstly going to lose the grazing for their (live)stock. The agriculture is going to go one way and we can see unprecedented catastrophe in Africa.?

Shortly after the announcement that Gore was the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, polls began asking the public whether he deserved it. Dr. Raper says, ?Irrespective of who carries the flag, as long as it gets there. I have personally no knowledge of anything negative about Mr. Gore. I remember him as a figure in the Clinton administration?and it takes somebody special like Archbishop Tutu to stand up above the masses and despite any kinds of criticism or people?s other agendas and so on to get the job done.?

He says that it would help school children become more aware climate change.