LONDON    -      Extreme events linked to climate change, such as the heatwave in Europe this year, are occurring sooner than expected, an ex-chief scientist says.

Prof Sir David King says he’s been scared by the number of extreme events, and he called for the UK to advance its climate targets by 10 years.

But the UN’s weather chief said using words like “scared” could make young people depressed and anxious.

Speaking to the BBC, Prof King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government, said: “It’s appropriate to be scared. We predicted temperatures would rise, but we didn’t foresee these sorts of extreme events we’re getting so soon.”

He said the world had changed faster than generally predicted in the fifth assessment report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014.

He referred especially to the loss of land ice and sea ice, and to the weather extremes in which he said warming probably played a role.

Several other scientists contacted by the BBC supported his emotive language.

The physicist Prof Jo Haigh from Imperial College London said: “David King is right to be scared – I’m scared too.”

“We do the analysis, we think what’s going to happen, then publish in a very scientific way. “Then we have a human response to that… and it is scary.” Petteri Taalas, the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialised UN agency, said he fully supported United Nations climate goals, but he criticised radical green campaigners for forecasting the end of the world.