Al Gore wasn’t exactly breaking out the champagne to celebrate his win of a Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps the world’s most prestigious kudo that he will share with the United National climate panel.

Calling global warming “the greatest challenge we have ever faced,” Gore used the attention of a Palo Alto press conference to further warn of the climate crisis.

“This is a chance to elevate the global consciousness of the challenges that we face now,” Gore said to reporters, with his wife Tipper by his side. He delivered statements at the offices of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which will be the recipient of Gore’s part of the $1.5 million in prize money.

“We have to go far, quickly, and that means we have to quickly find a way to change the world’s consciousness,” Gore said.

The Nobel has created a new wave of speculation over whether Gore would enter the 2008 presidential race, or who he may endorse if he does not get in, wanting to keep the focus on the urgency of global warming. On Thursday, at a San Francisco fund-raiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer, with entertainment from Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, Gore talked of the possiblities of world cooperation.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“Europe saw things differently after they had the opportunity to work together.  Consciousness has changed.  Thinking has changed.  It hasn’t been that long ago that it wouldn’t have been … absurd to ask how likely is it that Germany will invade France or France will invade Germany.  But now, thank goodness, because of the political changes in consciousness of the last 50 years, that … is utterly absurd.  We need to create a future in which when people say, ‘How likely is it we’ll have a genocide in Africa this year?’ people will say, ‘That’s absurd.’  Right now, it’s not absurd.”

An impromptu crowd chanted “Run, Al, Run!” as he shook his hands in the air for them to stop.

The Nobel is the pinnacle of what has been an unlikely new chapter in Gore’s career. If anything, Hollywood has helped boost the profile of Gore’s work with “An Inconvenient Truth” and has perhaps helped boost interest in Gore’s Current TV venture with Joel Hyatt. Gore’s Live Earth concerts, which he produced along with Kevin Wall, may not have drawn blockbuster TV audiences but they at least kept press attention fixed on the environmental crisis.

The Nobel committee committee cited Gore’s multimedia work when it noted that “his strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.”

Presidential campaigns of leading Democratic contenders also showered praise on Gore. John Edwards invoked the movie’s title when he said that the award “shines a bright light on the most inconvenient truth of all — the selection of George Bush as president has endangered the peace and prosperity of the entire planet.”

Video of the announcement here.