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Climate change seen as planet's defining crisis

Most Canadians think climate change is the planet's defining crisis, a new poll suggests.

That belief is held most strongly in Quebec and less so in the Prairies, a survey conducted by Harris-Decima on behalf of the Munk Debates has found.

The poll asked Canadians if they agreed or disagreed with a resolution to be debated Tuesday during the fourth Munk Debate in Toronto, that: "Climate change is mankind's defining crisis, and demands a commensurate response."

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Nearly two thirds of Canadians agreed while 31 per cent disagreed. A tiny fraction had no opinion.

"I think it shows the extent to which not just the environment, but the actual issue of climate change, has ascended up the public agenda to point where it is reminiscent of those other big causes that have shaped a lot of Canadian history," said Rudyard Griffiths, co-organizer of the Munk Debates.

Women were slightly more inclined to agree with the statement than men. Sixty-seven per cent of women agreed, compared with 63 per cent of men.

Across the provinces, more Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians agreed that climate change is the defining crisis, while people in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were less likely to agree.

The pollsters then asked people for their thoughts on a range of arguments for and against climate change. "We came up with a battery of the most conventional arguments for and against ambitious action on climate change," Griffiths said.

People were given five statements often made by those who support the fight against climate change and five statements made by those who argue against it.

The survey found a strong belief on both sides of the climate-change debate that there is a moral responsibility to deal with global warming now to save the planet future generations.

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There was also general agreement on both sides that a warming planet threatens species and ecologies around the world with extinction, and that scientists are on the same page that something needs to be done about climate change.

The poll suggests nearly two thirds of people think humans will be able to adapt to climate change. Half of those surveyed also agreed the money Canada spends on climate change would be better spent on health care and national debt.

After the pollsters finished going through the arguments for and against climate change, they again asked people if they agreed with the statement about it being the world's defining issue.

The responses were nearly identical to the answers given at the beginning of the survey.

The online poll of 1,009 Canadians was conducted Nov. 12 to 15. No margin of error was provided.

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