It’s here. Copenhagen 2009. Day 1 has arrived with much anticipation, as over 15,000 experts and 100 world leaders gather for 12 days to discuss one of the greatest challenges ever faced by humanity.

“If the whole world comes to Copenhagen and leaves without making the needed political agreement, then I think it’s a failure that is not just about climate. Then it’s the whole global democratic system not being able to deliver results in one of the defining challenges of our century. And that is and should not be a possibility. It’s not an option,” says Connie Hedegaard, incoming COP15 president.

But the science behind climate change has been called into question over the past weeks, as stolen emails from the University of East Anglia were plastered around the internet in attempts to discredit work done by IPCC authors.

“It (the incident) has created confusion and confusion never helps scientific discussions,” said Nicholas Stern, British economist and Chair of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

It’s clear this attempt to muddle the debate has come at a critical moment. Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, condemns the hacking of the emails, reports The Environment Blog from The Guardian.

“Some will go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts, perhaps in an attempt discredit the IPCC,” he says. He says the IPCC has a record of ‘objective assessment’ by tens of thousands of dedicated scientists.

“The science is incredibly robust,” responds Dr. Jonathan Pershing, Deputy US Negotiator at official level meetings at the Copenhagen talks, to recent allegations that question the legitimacy of climate science.

The talks at Copenhagen highlight the need for a two-pronged approach to battle climate change: emissions reduction, and adaptation to the effects of global climate disruption. Even if world leaders are able to agree on emissions reduction targets throughout 2020, 2050, and beyond, communities around the world still have to adapt to changes caused by global warming.