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Debating global climate change

The idea that man made pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions are directly affecting our planet's climate is a highly controversial issue, one that's taken center stage across the globe.

This topic is still shrouded in debate. On one side, are those who have come to believe in a scientific consensus that says global warming/climate change is real and is undoubtably caused by humans and our industrial development. Another side claims there is no real scientific consensus on this issue, and that many dissenting opinions on the subject of man-made global climate change are being suppressed.

In fact, these global warming "deniers" say the changes in climate we constantly monitor are part of longer-term shifts in the earth's climate and environment that have occurred for as long as we can imagine.

As media coverage of the issue and the surrounding debate grows, one thing is certain; the rhetoric has become increasingly alarmist and ever more divisive. Will we be able to weed through the deceptive claims and find some measure of the truth?

For those of us who do not claim scientific expertise in the fields of physics and atmospheric science, it is imperitive that we try to seek out information from all sides and critically digest what we can. Some of what's being offered to us might pass the test of being easy to understand, but it does no good if what we're really taking in is sensationalism and propaganda. An interested person needs to sift through the garbage and the fluff to find real information.

I don't fully understand the issue of "global climate change" and I'm uncertain that I'll ever really know if these changes in climate are anthropogenic, or simply part of the normal pattern of events on planet earth. All I can do is try to understand what's in front of me.

So in the interests of kickstarting this learning process, let me offer up a couple of video clips that might spur your interest in uncovering both sides of this debate.

I'll start off with the efforts of our most famous global warming campaigner, Al Gore.

You can watch him in this interview with Charlie Rose on the subject of global climate change and the ideas presented in his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth".

Here he is charming the crowd at the TEDtalks conference with his ideas on how to mitigate global warming. In a rather ironic turn of events, Gore has recently been attacked for his own energy-intensive lifestyle and his hypocrisy on this issue.

On to the skeptics. Here's an interesting video that's recently been making the rounds on Web 2.0 and fueling some debate: "The Great Global Warming Swindle". As this film asserts, "global warming has gone beyond politics - it is a new kind of morality".

So for some of us, the learning process begins, while for others, the debate has raged on for a long time. There have been reports of defections from both camps, "skeptics" and "believers", but one thing is certain: this debate is far from settled.

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