Green campaigners and climate scientists are losing the public debate over global warming, one of the movement’s leading proponents has admitted.
Dr James Hansen, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who first made warnings about climate change in the 1980s, said that public scepticism about the threat of man-made climate change has increased despite the growing scientific consensus.
Speaking ahead of a public lecture in Edinburgh this week, he admitted that without public support it will be impossible to make the changes he and his colleagues believe need to occur to protect future generations from the effects of climate change.
He blamed sceptics who are opposed to major social and economic changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for employing “tremendous resources” to undermine the scientific evidence.
Dr Hansen, who will receive the Edinburgh Medal at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, pointed to a number of controversies involving climate scientists, such as the leaked University of East Anglia emails, as being partly responsible for the shift in public opinion.
Critics, however, insist the public have become desensitised by decades of dire warnings by climate scientists.