February 14, 2008, Updated September 13, 2012

Al Gore is honored for establishing climate crisis as a moral and spiritual imperative.Al Gore, famous for educating the world about the dangers of global warming and climate change, will be arriving in Israel this May after winning one of Israel’s most prestigious prizes, the Dan David Prize, valued at $1 million.

The prize is part of $3 million in award money offered annually by the Dan David Foundation, a philanthropic organization housed at Tel Aviv University and endowed by Israeli businessman Dan David.

The foundation’s mission is to award cash prizes that will impact the fields of human knowledge and foster the next generation of scholars.

“The 2008 Dan David Prize honors Al Gore for establishing climate crisis as a moral and spiritual imperative, thereby helping to galvanize international action against global warming,” said the prize jury.

But Gore won’t be the only American expected to visit Israel’s shores to collect a Dan David prize. A $1 million award will also be shared by US and British scientists working in the field of geosciences. They are professors Ellen Moseley-Thompson and Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, and Geoffrey Eglinton from Bristol University.

In the US, Thompson leads the field operations on high-altitude tropical glaciers research and Moseley-Thompson conducts field and laboratory programs to reconstruct the conditions recorded by the ice.

Their work records climatic changes in remote regions, the roles of atmospheric dust and volcanic aerosols, abrupt changes in the global environment, and the impact of such environmental changes upon human activities.

Although it is reported that Gore will donate the full value of his prize, the other award winners in the two other categories, are expected to donate 20 scholarships from their prize to students. Valued at $15,000 each, the scholarships are expected to support outstanding doctoral students throughout the world, in the chosen fields.

A total of three $1 million prizes will be awarded by the Dan David Foundation in three categories — past, present and future. Gore, a Nobel Prize winner, wins the “present” category under the field of social responsibility with an emphasis on the environment.

The scientists, also with their environmental emphasis, win a prize in the “future” category; Amos Oz, an Israeli author, Tom Stoppard, a British playwright, and Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan share a third prize of $1 million in the “past” category.

Americans have also played an important role as part of the jury in the 2008 prize review committee. They include Prof. Michael B. McElroy from Harvard University and Prof. Yuk Ling Yung from Caltech.

Founded in 2001, the Dan David Prize regularly acknowledges US achievements in science and the arts. Past American prizewinners include cellist Yo-Yo Ma and scientist James Hanson.

The story of Dan David’s success starts in 1961, when as a young immigrant to Israel he had a dream of using his studies and work experience in industrial photography to design a new type of instant photography technology. He managed to turn his dream into a successful business.

“The constellation of laureates [this year] is particularly meaningful,” says David. “On the one hand, great creators depicting historical events in literature, theater and film; on the other, eminent scientists whose research predicts environmental disaster if we do not act; and in between, a man promoting awareness of this prediction and its remedies so that human history will continue to be told for generations to come.”

The awards will be presented at Tel Aviv University on May 19, 2008 during a gala ceremony. The winners are all expected to receive their prizes in person from Israel’s President Shimon Peres.

More on Life

Fighting for Israel's truth

We cover what makes life in Israel so special — it's people. A non-profit organization, ISRAEL21c's team of journalists are committed to telling stories that humanize Israelis and show their positive impact on our world. You can bring these stories to life by making a donation of $6/month. 

Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

Read more: