The Prince of Wales has warned climate change deniers they will “test our world to destruction” unless action is taken to cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Charles said the evidence of changes to the global climate is now inescapable and the situation “so serious that we cannot look away or stick our heads into the sand”.
Shrinking ice caps, the migrant crisis and conflicts are just some of the disasters being fuelled by man-made climate change, he said.
The passionate campaigner issued the appeal as environmentalists raised concerns over the United States’ commitment to cutting emissions under Donald Trump’s administration.
The new president, who once said climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese to undermine the American economy, is expected to swiftly rewrite US energy policy and undo regulations including restrictions on oil drilling and coal mining.
In contrast Charles praised China, home to some of the most polluted cities in the world, for providing “strong leadership” in showing how quickly technology can be adopted to tackle the problem.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Charles said the world can no longer afford to dispute the hard facts or treat climate change as a “matter of opinion”.
“We can take the scientific evidence and act accordingly, or we can find ways to remain unconvinced that robust and immediate action is necessary,” he wrote.
“The problem with the latter choice is that we will continue to test our world to destruction until we finally have the ‘evidence’ to show that its viability and habitability have been destroyed.
“And by the time we come to our senses, it is likely be too late to do anything about it.”
A 20-fold increase in the use of energy since the industrial revolution has led to a dramatic rise in carbon emissions that are causing “alarming” changes in the natural world, Charles said.
Evidence from satellites and other observations demonstrates the retreat of glaciers around the world, diminishing water supplies in South Asia, the demise of sea ice in the Arctic and the death of coral reefs, the Prince explained.
Charles also cited the “numerous” records that are being broken by extreme weather around the world, describing flooding in particular as “one of the most terrible events”.
“It is leading to a decline in some wildlife species, threatens food and water supplies and can be a contributing factor for the migration of people.
“These effects can in turn exacerbate political tensions and help fuel conflict,” he wrote.
The Prince dismissed suggestions by some scientists that there has been a “pause” in global warming, referring instead to data that showed 2016, 2015 and 2014, were the warmest on record.
He also rejected the criticism made by some sceptics that environmental regulations stifle development and employment, noting: “Acting now is far cheaper than picking up the pieces later.”
Charles has co-authored a peer-reviewed Ladybird Expert book on the issue with a leading environmentalist and a climate scientist.
His proposals for taking on climate change range in scale from featuring global warming on weather forecasts to overhauling the economy.