Stop Everything #9: Leaky emails and "climategate" don't change the basics

A visitor looks at Darren Almonds art installation entitled Tide, 2008 comprising of 567 digital wall clocks is displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts Earth: Art of a Changing World exhibition on December 1, 2009 in London. New and recent work from 35 artists and a selection of commissions from emerging artists is on display at the Royal Academy from December 3, 2009 to January 31, 2010. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

A visitor looks at Darren Almond's art installation entitled 'Tide, 2008' comprising of 567 digital wall clocks is displayed at the Royal Academy of Arts 'Earth: Art of a Changing World' exhibition on December 1, 2009 in London. New and recent work from 35 artists and a selection of commissions from emerging artists is on display at the Royal Academy from December 3, 2009 to January 31, 2010. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The results from a recent study seems to perfectly illustrate Canada’s increasing confusion on climate change. While Canadians agreed that “climate change is the planet’s defining crisis”, when given a list of arguments used on either side of the climate change debate, there was a surprising amount of belief that both arguments held some truth.

How can we agree that it is such a global, widespread and important issue to label it our “defining crisis,” yet still debate whether or not it exists? Our fight-or-flight instincts seem a little slow to react. Generally speaking, the appropriate response to crisis is action.

The more information we get about climate change, the more confusion seems to swirl around it. Copenhagen was supposed to be the Climate Change Conference that would bring an international agreement before it was written off as scarcely more than a sit down between government administrators, incapable of producing any international treaty. Stephen Harper was assumed to be attending, then said he wouldn’t go, and now will attend at least for one day. And then there’s “Climategate.” After over 1,000 emails of international climatologists were hacked into, a few statements found that ought to only discredit a few specific scientists is instead being used to discredit the whole body of climate change research.

Always suckers for a scandal, it’s been easy for people to get caught up in such nonsense without acknowledging that the source who hacked into the email database to begin with likely had worse motivations than the scientists trying to emphasize the importance of climate change to a generally confused public.

What’s unfortunate is that the confusion is accomplishing what it set out to: distract from the substance of the climate change debate instead of focusing on issues that were generally agreed upon by the scientific community years ago. The fact of the matter is, while people don’t seem to know or agree what our carbon reduction targets are or ought to be, and maybe can’t say what they expect to come out of Copenhagen, they do believe in climate change. We’re getting down to the wire and it’s time to cut through the bullshit and make some decisions.

All of us who believe in and worry about climate change are going to have to make that much more noise to drown out the email hackers and conspiracy theorists who would like to paint the picture that all of those concerned about our future are part of a “Big Green” scam and funnel our money to Al Gore. Instead of wasting our time acknowledging the transparent attempts to discredit climate change, it’s time we leave this nonsense behind and focus on action. Luckily, it seems that at the heart of it, Canadians really do realize that climate change is a crisis. It’s long past time for the “action” piece of the puzzle.