Now retired, Dyson was a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton between 1953 and 1994. Famed for his work in quantum electrodynamics and nuclear engineering, Dyson also worked on climate studies during his career.

Related: Scientist who urged government to sue climate skeptics gets millions from taxpayers

Climate change, according to Freeman, “is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?”

The physicist and mathematician argues that pollution caused by fossil fuels has been conflated with climate change. “Coal is very unpleasant stuff, and there are problems with coal quite apart from climate,” he said. “Pollution is quite separate to the climate problem: one can be solved, and the other cannot, and the public doesn’t understand that.”

During his interview with The Register Dyson noted shortcomings in climate models. “What has happened in the past 10 years is that the discrepancies between what’s observed and what’s predicted have become much stronger,” he said. “It’s clear now the models are wrong, but it wasn’t so clear 10 years ago. I can’t say if they’ll always be wrong, but the observations are improving and so the models are becoming more verifiable.”

Dyson also wrote a strong foreword to a report published Monday by The Global Warming Policy Foundation, which calls for a reassessment of carbon dioxide. “To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage,” he wrote.

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