A number of those celebrities are preparing to descend on Copenhagen next week to weigh in on climate change issues. Last night, Sting, who has spent the past two decades leading an effort to save Amazonian rainforests, found himself under fire from BBC “Newsnight” host Jeremy Paxman.

During the more than five minute interview, Paxman took every opportunity to point out the apparent contradictions, or “green hypocrisy,” in such campaigns led by wealthy celebrities to an increasingly uncomfortable Sting.

The singer – sporting a full, bushy beard and looking look like he’d just emerged from the jungle – started out by describing a press conference he held in Brazil last week to help draw attention to his efforts to stop the construction of a hydro-electric dam and claimed major media outlets like BBC wouldn’t have attended “without a celeb.”

To which Paxman replied: “But in the end, you are trying to stop a source of renewable energy aren’t you?”

A visibly flustered Sting countered by basically saying that all the energy in the world was of no use without “an environment for that energy to work in” and reinforced his point that his main goal is to give a voice to the little guy or “the indians who would be severely affected by this dam.”

Determined to keep the singer on the ropes, Paxman then asked, “So what’s environmentally friendly? To look after the indians or to enjoy some renewable energy?”

Circling the argument, Sting returned to his previous message about the need for balance and keeping an eye on the big picture, which prompted the host to point out that the Brazilian government has “done rather well in terms of renewable energy” and is “making some progress on saving the rainforest.”

After grudgingly agreeing to Paxman’s point, the singer said the dam in question needs to be supported by six more dams to be effective and would “severely compromise an area of rainforest I’ve worked very hard for the past twenty years to protect.”

That’s when things really began to get ugly. Paxman pointed out that the Brazilian government has asked other developed nations to chip in financially to help preserve rainforests and when Sting quickly agreed that they should, the host fired back with, “So how much do you think taxes should go up?”

The singer declined to give an answer and said that wasn’t his issue, but Paxman wasn’t about to let him get away and hit him with, “This kind of matters, because you’ve already conceded the significance that the involvement of somebody like yourself can give to an issue.

“You have just said that you think we should be paying to stop the rainforest being destroyed and yet you’re apparently unable to say how much we should be paying.”

After crossly blinking a few times (more than likely while counting to 10 internally), the singer returned to his assertion that his “only job here is to give a platform to people who have no voice.”

Apparently that was the moment Paxman had been waiting for and he struck the killing blow.

“Do you ever feel uncomfortable traveling between various homes in various continents at enormous carbon costs?,” he asked. “Do you ever feel uncomfortable about that?”

At this point, the gloves were off, and Sting fired back “I think it’s an amusing red herring for the media to blame celebrities for the ‘global crisis’ we’re in.”

The remaining two minutes of the interview consisted of Paxman flinging charges of hypocrisy at the singer for his lavish lifestyle, accusing him of “expecting poorer people to make sacrifices” and placing himself in an awkward position, while Sting defended himself as well as he could.

While I have to say the interview was unquestionably an ambush, and I feel badly for Sting because I’m sure his heart is in the right place, I also have to admit that Paxman raised some valid points.

So putting environmental issues aside (we’ll leave that to the experts), what do you think about the causes of the famous? Do celebrities do more harm than good when they get involved?

Does Sting have a valid point when he says that a lot of issues would never get the attention they do without celebrity involvement?

And is Jeremy Paxman right in accusing many artists of hypocrisy because they’re too far removed from the everyday reality of people struggling to make it financially to have a clear view of certain issues?

Watch Paxman’s entire “Newsnight” interview with Sting here.