Global warming, or as it's more accurately known, global climate change, is one of the most divisive issues in skepticism. I was reminded of this recently when I gave a talk for Phoenix Skeptics. In the friendly chatter afterward, someone asked what I thought of the films An Inconvenient Truth and its counter, The Great Global Warming Swindle. As it turns out, I had watched An Inconvenient Truth on the airplane to Arizona, and I found it to be as I expected—too much Al Gore, and too little science. It was interesting, but it didn't convince me, and I know it left out some important pieces of data. As for the The Great Global Warming Swindle, I had not seen it (I've watched parts since), but I recommended that the group watch it.
One attendee was displeased with this. "It would be like watching Loose Change or Expelled!" And I agreed, it could be like that. I had heard that The Great Global Warming Swindle was even more of a propaganda piece than An Inconvenient Truth, but I still recommended they watch it.
Why? Because as skeptics, it's good to expose ourselves to material, even if it's biased or manipulative. I recommend that everyone watch Expelled! and What the BLEEP Do We Know. I forced myself to watch the latter, and I'm glad I did, because I'm now conversant on it and can address specific issues in the film.
Exposing yourself to a wide range of material is especially important for the global climate change question. Yes, I said question: I don't know what's going on. It appears that the Earth is warming, but there's a big debate over two things—are humans causing it, and can we stop it? Do we even need to? There are major sources of disinformation on both sides of the question, and they're polluting the knowledge pool to such and extent that it's difficult to know the truth.
I know some of you will savage me in the comments for this, but global warming is one of those issues where I have no clear opinion. I think it's always good to pollute as little as possible, and to have as little impact on the Earth as is reasonable, but the environmentalist movement has been ruthless in spreading its political agenda, and I simply don't trust them. On the other side, I don't trust the political pundits who say it's all a matter of left-wing propaganda. I believe the truth lies in the middle, and we should continue to gather data and study what's happening, while at the same time preparing ourselves for the worst case scenarios.
Humans excel at one thing more than any other, and that is adaptation. If another ice age hit or temperatures rose 10 degrees world-wide, I know we could adjust. It will just be a lot easier on us if we prepare ahead of time.
Review the data yourself, form your own opinions, and by all means post them in the comments. But please try to argue with data rather than hyperbole. We get enough of that over the airwaves.