OSLO, Norway (AP) – Saying it’s “time to make peace with the planet,” Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Monday with a call for humanity to rise up against a looming climate crisis and stop waging war on the environment.

The United States and China – the world’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases – will stand accountable before history if they don’t take the lead in that global challenge, the former vice president said.

“Without realizing it, we have begun to wage war on the Earth itself,” Gore said in his acceptance speech. “Now, we and the Earth’s climate are locked in a relationship familiar to war planners: ‘Mutually assured destruction.’ It is time to make peace with the planet.”

Gore was awarded the prize for sounding the alarm over global warming and spreading awareness on how to counteract it. His co-winner, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was represented by the panel’s leader, Rajendra Pachauri.

They received their Nobel gold medals and diplomas at a gala ceremony at Oslo’s city hall, while the Nobel prizes for medicine, chemistry, physics, literature and economics were presented in a separate ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.

Gore urged government officials at a U.N. climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, to prepare the ground for quick negotiations on an emissions-limitation treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Gore and Pachauri will leave for the U.N. meeting Wednesday. “I will urge the delegates in Bali to adopt a bold mandate for a treaty,” Gore said.

In a speech that quoted Churchill, Gandhi and the Bible, Gore said the world’s biggest producers of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – the United States and China – must stop blaming each other for the stalemate over warming.

Instead, they should take the lead in solving a problem for which they bear a large responsibility, he said, or be “accountable before history for their failure to act.”

He drew a parallel between leaders who ignore the climate crisis and those who didn’t act as Nazi Germany rearmed before World War II.

“Too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: ‘They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent,”‘ Gore said.

He likened the current “planetary emergency” to wartime. “We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war,” he said.

Although Pachauri described the threat largely in measured, scientific terms, he warned of a grim fate if greenhouse gases emissions are not limited. A warming climate could lead to swamped coastlines, disruptions to food supply, spread of disease and loss of biodiversity, he said.

“Neglect in protecting our heritage of natural resources could prove extremely harmful for the human race and for all species that share common space on Planet Earth,” Pachauri said in his acceptance speech. “It is within the reach of human society to meet these threats.”

Before presenting the award to Gore and Pachauri, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel awards committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, praised them for moving climate to the top of the world agenda.

“We thank you for what you have done for Mother Earth,” Mjoes said.

Gore’s wife, Tipper, in the audience with their four children, smiled broadly when he accepted the award, which includes a $1.6 million stipend to be shared equally between the two winners. The audience, including Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja, rose for sustained applause.

Gore urged world leaders to put a new climate treaty in place by 2010 – two years earlier than planned. Heads of state should meet every three months to negotiate the treaty because global warming must be slowed, he said.

“The future is knocking at our door right now. Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions,” said Gore. “Either they will ask: ‘What were you thinking; why didn’t you act? Or they will ask instead: ‘How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?”‘

In an appearance on British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Hard Talk” program, Gore said he hoped the new climate treaty will impose a global cap on greenhouse gas emissions, and he said businesses should be taxed on the amount of gases they emit.

Gore also called on wealthy nations to build “a constructive partnership” with poorer countries to spread the availability of technology being designed to reduce gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.

He noted climate change has not been a big issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, but he said he was “far more optimistic now than I’ve ever been before” because he felt more and more people are coming to adopt his view of global warming’s threat.

“We’re close to it, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer and closer to it,” Gore said.

The Nobel Prizes, first awarded in 1901, are presented each year on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of their creator, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.

In Stockholm, the winners of the other Nobel prizes received their awards from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and were feted at a white-tie banquet in city hall.

The 2007 awards in medicine, chemistry and physics honored breakthroughs in stem cell research on mice, solid-surface chemistry and the discovery of a phenomenon that lets computers and digital music players store reams of data on ever-shrinking hard disks.

Three U.S. economists shared the economics award for their work on how people’s knowledge and self-interest affect their behavior in the market or in social situations such as voting and labor negotiations.

One of the economics winners, Leonid Hurwicz, 90, and the literature prize winner, 88-year-old British author Doris Lessing, were unable to attend. Hurwicz received his Nobel Prize for economics in Minneapolis on Monday because he couldn’t make the trip to Sweden.

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