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Thinking for Yourself. The Global Warming “Debate” Makes Progress?

Imagine, if you will, two men squaring off in a debate about global warming and climate change: the prototypical northeastern liberal with the architect of the conservative takeover of Congress during the Clinton years.

You know what comes next – right?

Well, maybe not. Liberals, conservatives, and anyone else that insists on making this environmental issue a political one should take note.

Debating last week in the Senate’s ornate Hearing Room in front of a stand room only crowd, John Kerry and Newt Gingrich disagreed on how to address the problem, but both men agreed that there is, indeed, a serious problem. Global warming is real and human activity is driving any natural cycle of climate change

As reported by the Boston Globe, Gingrich came just short of apologizing for the Republican party stating, “I’m not going to stand up here and defend our failure to lead.”

Newt even plans on staking his turf in the environmental arena by releasing a book this fall; “There has to be a green conservatism.”

Well, duh.

At least we’re making progress. As recently as 2005, Gingrich scoffed at the notion that global warming was real, and especially of the idea that humans would have anything to do with it.

Of course, many remain blinded by a misplaced “Conservative Canon” that precludes any consideration of environmental issues beyond their partisan agenda, thus branding Gingrich as a “traitor” (to what exactly, I can’t say). But it does show that thinking men and women can step beyond their timid clinging to the “party line” and form a thoughtful and informed opinion – even if it means changing their mind.

The real science is available. There is an excellent series of recorded college level lectures on climate change offered by the Teaching Company. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes available regular updates. Numerous books are available on the subject of energy, the environment, climate change and global warming. Nor is there is anything inherently wrong with healthy skepticism. The sources of information on this issue grow day by day.

There is enough information available and the potential consequences are of a degree that suggest an informed and thoughtful opinion is wise. One divorced of partisan ideology.

It is those that accuse Gingrich of “drinking the Kool-Aid” and “coming over to the dark side” that are truly the ones with Kool-Aid coursing through their veins.

That there is a debate between Gingrich and Kerry on the role government should take in tackling the problem is proper for the political arena.

That human society has a responsibility to the environment – to accept that global warming is real – is not.

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