‘A critical turning point’

In UK newspaper the Telegraph, Prince Charles – future head of state and now future grandparent – has expressed his concerns for the environment. Writing in the preface of Tony Juniper’s book ‘What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?, the future king warns that nature should not be taken for granted: “There are some who seem to think that only when times are good should we afford the cost of nurturing the natural environment.”

Source: Wikicommons

Just as bad, in the prince’s view, was the prevalent assumption that protecting natural systems is an impediment to economic growth. This blinkered view is as misguided as it is wrong, Charles argues: “Nature is, in fact, the source and very basis of our welfare and economic prosperity. For me, this is so self-evident as to seem ridiculous even to say it.”

But for him, this is the tip of a bigger iceberg for the human economy. Conventional economics ignores nature’s “colossal” contribution to the global economy, estimated at “…around double the global Gross Domestic Product.” However, this is sidelined by policymakers and economists alike, to the prince’s chagrin.

He warns: “We are reaching a critical turning point when humankind has to realise that people and the human economy are both embedded within Nature’s systems and benevolence.”

Charles acknowledges that there is a growing awareness of the urgent environmental imperative and he is adamant that: “ …it is paramount that we adopt a different mindset; one that veers away from the focus that has dominated the past half-century or so. Essentially, we have to become far more joined-up in our thinking and behaviour.”

The prince has long been a supporter of the environment, telling journalists in November that it is an “act of suicide” to ignore the environment. He declared that there is scientific evidence to vindicate his position, for which he has been labelled a “crank” by those who ignore the “…grim consequences…” of a gung-ho economy.

Tony Juniper’s book ‘What Has Nature Ever Done For Us?’  was published by Profile Books on January 14.

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Peter Crosskey is based in the UK.