RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Lost in the hype, hope, and hyperbole about Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize last week is the strong connection of North Carolina State University with the chairman of the United Nations group that shared the award.

Rajendra Pachauri earned three graduate degrees while attending NCSU in the early 1970s. A native of India who lives in Bombay, Pachauri also taught at State.

A vegetarian born in 1940 and an acknowledged hard worker who starts each day in his office at 5 a.m., Pachauri is chair of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At State, he earned three graduate degrees – a master’s in industrial engineering in 1972, and later on doctorates in industrial engineering and economics. NCSU also pointed out in a statement on Friday that Pachauri served as an assistant professor and a visiting faculty member in the Department of Economics in 1974-75 and 1976-77 respectively.

Pachauri met with the media and was quite humble about his panel sharing the award. "I can’t believe it, overwhelmed, stunned," he said, according to the Associated Press.

“While receiving this news about the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for this year, I would like to pay tribute to the scientific community, who are the winners of this award,” he said in a statement issued by the IPCC. “The experts and scientists are the backbone of the IPCC and they provide the knowledge, which has contributed to the success of the IPCC.

“I would also like to thank the governments of the world who support and facilitate the work of the Panel. I hope, as the Chairman of the organisation, I am articulating the sentiments of the entire scientific community in acknowledging the enormous appreciation implied in the award of the Nobel Peace Prize and this would energize all the scientists and experts involved in the IPCC to do even more in the future,” he added.

Pachauri has an office at the Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, and from there he told the media that the award is a vindication for those who believe that global warming is fact, not fiction.

Warming is occurring, most scientists and people seem to agree. The raging debate is more about whether man or nature is the cause.

In his press conference and media interviews, Pachauri insisted that governments, including India, had to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions. He noted that new technology will be required in what he described as a “major intellectual effort.”

His U.N. group recently concluded that it’s most likely man is the primary cause of global warming over the last 50 years. "The price of waiting is enormous," Pachauri said last week.

In November, the IPCC is to release “Climate Change 2007,” a report that it says will provide a “comprehensive and rigorous picture” about the “state of knowledge” about climate change. Given the Nobel award, the report is likely to receive even more attention.

As for Gore, who knows what the award will mean. He is downplaying calls for him to make another run for president. And Gore did make time for Pachauri.

According to The Independent in the U.K., Gore was among the callers to congratulate Pachauri even though Gore has criticized him in the past as a foot-dragger. Pachauri, who has led the U.N. group since 2002, told The Independent that Gore is a “wonderful human being” and reported that Gore said the two men must work together in the future.