Ryanair's O'Leary refuses to accept global warming is a reality
In a surprising intervention in the contentious climate change debate, the outspoken businessman said he did not accept the link between fossil fuels and global warming.
"I don't accept the connection between carbon consumption and climate change," he told RTE Radio 1's Countrywide programme.
"People use very short term weather analysis to justify climate change is happening."
Mr O'Leary said nuclear power needed to be considered as a possible future energy source and added: "If you ask Mary Robinson and the climate justice mob what they think of nuclear power, they recoil in horror.
"I will always be wary of these people who are very extreme in their views and that the end of the world is nigh.
"I think the human race will continue. The obvious challenge for the human race is that we're exploding in terms of population.
"This kind of nonsense that we all need to cut back on beef production, or that we all need to eat vegetables or go vegan, and all start cycling bicycles is not the way forward. I don't believe them. I think it's complete and utter rubbish.
"They remind me of these people who used to hang around the market square 2,000 years ago saying the end of the world is nigh.
"You go back to London in the 18th century, they thought they were all going to die from smog. There is always some lunatic out there who points to a load of rubbish science; science changes."
Last night, Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin severely criticised Michael O'Leary for making "highly irresponsible" comments about climate change.
Ms Martin said the Ryanair boss's "latest publicity stunt" flies in the face of factual evidence which shows climate change is one of the most serious issues facing the globe.
"For a captain of industry to make such comments is not just disappointing, but highly irresponsible," she said.
"He would be better placed using his publicity stunts to highlight the impact extreme weather conditions caused by climate change are having in various parts of the world," she added.
Mr O'Leary also said he was extremely concerned about the impact of the UK leaving the EU.
He said: "I'm very worried about Brexit. Everybody should be worried.
"I think the UK are going to walk themselves off a cliff. I don't think they have any sense of how difficult the discussions with the Europeans are going to be.
"I hope that in 12 to 18 months' time, when they realise they are going to get pushed off a cliff, they might change their mind and stay in the European Union.
"To me, it makes no sense to leave the biggest free-trading bloc in the world. There is very little sense among the UK political class and they need a dose of reality.
"When you look at our sector, aviation, there may well for a period of time after March 19 be no flights to and from the UK," he said. But he stressed that at this juncture such a scenario is an "unlikely outcome".
He also said Brexit had already had an impact on how much Ryanair will invest in the UK aviation market.
"This year we have based no new aircrafts in the UK and we have cut our growth rate in the UK from 12pc to about 4pc."
He also expressed deep concerns about how the UK's exit will impact on Northern Ireland.
He said: "I worry about the border in the North. I think there is going to be a hard border everywhere.
"It's not an economic decision to the Europeans; it's a political decision," he added.