At the push of a button, hundreds of hacked emails became a smoking gun in the debate about climate change.
Just weeks before the crucial Copenhagen summit, which opens on Monday, the emails were posted online amid claims that scientists had manipulated data to "prove" global warming is caused by man.
The scientists whose mail was hacked are based in the world-renowned Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England.
An excerpt from one email referred to a plan to "hide the decline" in global temperatures. Another spoke of suppressing data which didn't fit the models.
Sceptics said the data posted on to a Russian website was evidence of research being manipulated, throwing open again the debate about climate change.
The emails were posted with a statement from the unidentified hacker(s): "We feel that climate science is, in the current situation, too important to be kept under wraps. We hereby release a random selection of correspondence, code and documents. Hopefully it will give some insight into the science and the people behind it."
The East Anglia scientists hit back at the hackers, saying that the emails were taken out of context.
Who should we believe? Can the science of climate change really be trusted? And should we care?
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- made up of hundreds of leading scientists -- has analysed most of the available climate science and concluded that the planet is heating because of increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Man is probably 90pc responsible, it adds.
Its findings have helped underpin a global climate response which has seen carbon emissions targets proposed by the United States and China in recent weeks.
But the research from the University of East Anglia had helped form part of the IPCC's conclusions.
"This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud," Patrick J Michaels, a climatologist who has questioned the evidence and was criticised in the documents, told the New York Times.
Next week, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen for COP 15, the United Nations summit aimed at negotiating a long-term deal to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and halt the worst effects of global warming.
Some kind of deal is expected because while most countries accept that the earth is getting warmer, the debate as to what extent it will change our climate and impact on our lives has not been settled.
'Warmists' (those who believe) and 'deniers' largely agree on the basic science. Certain gases in the atmosphere, most importantly water vapour and carbon dioxide, trap infrared radiation emitted by the earth's surface, resulting in a greenhouse effect. This is good. Without it, the planet would freeze.
It's agreed that since the industrial revolution, man is pumping CO2 into the atmosphere from industry, transport, agriculture and other human activities which has resulted in a year- on-year rise in concentrations.
The Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii has charted this rise for 60 years, and suggests that CO2 concentrations are at about 380 parts per million today, compared with 280 parts in the pre-industrial age -- a rise of 33pc.
As the rate of CO2 concentrations increases, temperature records show the warmest years have occurred in the past three decades. In Ireland, six of the 10 warmest have occurred since 1990.
That's where agreement ends. The IPCC says it's right, and the case is proven beyond doubt.
'Climate change is a real and serious problem. Reductions in emissions are needed and lifestyle changes are needed," Professor Jean Paschal van Ypersele, from the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium -- and the vice-chairman of the IPCC -- told the Irish Independent.
"Temperature has remained stable for thousands of years, but clearly in the last 100 years, and in particular the last 50 years, it has increased. Negative messages are part of the gameplay."
The IPCC says that if we do nothing to reduce emissions, global temperatures could rise between 1.1°C and 6.4°C by the end of the century.
Sceptics argue the planet has experienced warming and cooling for millions of years. Temperatures could remain stable. Life will adapt because CO2 is like food to plants which will flourish, trapping the gas.
While the warming is real, it doesn't mean human activity is to blame.
Increased solar activity, which .. affects the amount of radiation reaching the earth, could be to blame. The IPCC says this is so small as to make no difference.
Unfortunately for the sceptics, the world's biggest polluters -- the EU, the US and China -- have accepted the main thrust of the IPCC science. Developed nations including Ireland have followed. The debate is over.
If we do nothing, the science says, the world can expect to see a change in climate. This means the possibility of more devastating floods, more storms, drought and water shortages.
With the rebuilding cost after the flooding of recent weeks likely to exceed €300m, investment in flood defences will be necessary. It's one reason to care about climate change.
A political agreement at COP 15 is likely, which should translate into a legally binding agreement next year setting out how much each country has to reduce emissions, and who's going to pay for adapting to the new reality.
Scepticism won't stop the green tide. Everyone will be forced to care and take the pain, regardless of our view on the science.
Next Wednesday the Government will introduce a carbon tax which will add a cost to using fossil fuels including oil, gas and petrol to encourage a switch to more "sustainable" behaviour.
Even the Opposition agrees a carbon tax is necessary. Water charges are a matter of time, and a congestion charge will be used to "encourage" a switch to public transport.
It will be a carrot-and-stick approach. More efficient homes and building leads to lower utility bills, and homeowners who have energy-efficient houses could pay reduced levels of stamp duty.
Motor tax rates rewarding drivers who buy greener, less-polluting cars have been introduced. Drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles pay no motor tax.
School curriculums are being changed to teach children about the importance of energy efficiency and water conservation. Parents used to being lectured to about waste will submit that the message is getting home, and that the next generation will accept the new reality.
It's worth noting that five days after the hacked emails were made public, US President Barack Obama announced a major commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the COP 15 summit.
China followed just days after, and India set targets on Thursday.
Only Australia bucked the trend by electing a climate-change sceptic as leader of the opposition Liberal Party.
Tony Abbott said millions of Australians were concerned that the emissions trading scheme -- which will charge industry per tonne of carbon emitted in a bid to change behaviour -- was in reality "a great big tax to create a great big slush fund, to provide politicised hand-outs run by a giant bureaucracy".
Liberal MPs have questioned the scientific case for global warming and said they believed the legislation might damage Australia's economy.
The sceptics might be right and the majority of the world's climatologists wrong.
Are we willing to gamble?