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Prince Charles: First Secure the Environment

Maintenance of the world's eco-systems directly linked to the economic well-being of nations
8 July 2009

Prince CharlesThe Prince of Wales has issued a fresh warning of environmental catastrophe, telling an audience in London "if we fail the Earth, we fail humanity". The Prince said that ?Nature, the biggest bank of all, could go bust? in an apocalyptic warning that the Earth is on the brink of environmental disaster.

In the major television address, Charles set out his vision for tackling the pressing problems of the "environmental crisis" and the added concern of an economic system with "enormous shortcomings".

He said "We are standing at a moment of substantial transition where we face the dual challenges of a world view and an economic system that seem to have enormous shortcomings, together with an environmental crisis - including that of climate change - which threatens to engulf us all."

A new system was needed to combat these issues which moved away from a "mechanistic" approach to one that was more "balanced and integrated with nature's complexity", the Prince said.

He went on to state: "But for all its achievements, our consumerist society comes at an enormous cost to the Earth and we must face up to the fact that the Earth cannot afford to support it. Just as our banking sector is struggling with its debts - and paradoxically also facing calls for a return to so-called 'old-fashioned' traditional thinking - so Nature's life-support systems are failing to cope with the debts we have built up there too."

He said mankind needed to reassess the relationship with the natural world and recognise that ?we are not separate from Nature ? like everything else, we are Nature.?

He said the maintenance of the world's eco-systems was directly linked to the economic well-being of nations.

He added: "We must remember that the ultimate source of all economic capital is Nature?s capital.

The speech included specific references to the importance of payments for eco-system services, the urgent need to protect the rain forests and threats posed by climate change.

The Prince was delivering the 33rd Richard Dimbleby lecture at St James's Palace before an audience of environmentalists and industrialists which included former US President Bill Clinton and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Charles's speech was described as his first attempt to present a coherent philosophy in which he placed the threat to the environment in the context of a failing economic system.

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