A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Why Prince Charles’s Environmental Plan Can Never Work


As Britain’s Queen Elizabeth commemorates the 60th anniversary of her coronation, her son and heir, Prince Charles, worries increasingly about the kind of world his own sons and heirs will be inheriting when he’s king.

But, like so many well-meaning people in the environmental movement, he doesn’t understand the core problem.

This prince among baby boomers says he wants to devote his life to helping restore the balance of nature:

“Some think we can go on having this complete convenience [of modern civilization] while ignoring nature. Nature will kick us harder in the teeth than we can ever do back at it, which is what I think we’re beginning to see.”

With his International Sustainability Unit, Charles is “trying to do anything I can to bring people together from the public, private and NGO sectors” to deal with sustainable forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

His organization, he says, is “focused on the challenges of depleting natural capital.” And he talks about “the constant undermining of nature’s capacity to go on supplying us” and how we should be “scaling up good practice all around the world.”

In an accompanying blog post, he agonizes over the fact that:

In [the last] 50 years we burned down over a third of the world’s tropical rainforests and are still doing so – despite the fact that they are actually the lungs of the world. An area the size of a football goes up in smoke every four seconds – that’s over 26,000 football fields a day! As a result, we have destroyed more than 80,000 species on which, did we but know it, we depend for our long term health and welfare. Everything is interconnected.

His video sets out to show how we can “forge practical solutions … establish more sustainable fisheries and better ways of managing farming within tropical forests … more sustainable approaches to food production.”

It’s all very sensible. Unfortunately, however, it’s not going to work.

That’s because, once again, like so many environmental efforts, it’s all about us. Our food supply, our children and grandchildren, our future.

What matters – but what he never mentions – is not the “fisheries”, but the fish. Not the “sustainability of forests”, but the trees and all the animals who live in them.

But there’s no mention, in the video, the blog and the whole international Sustainability Unit, of the animals themselves. Instead, it’s about the “financial mechanisms that [can] enable global corporations to do things differently for the good of the Earth and for their profits.”

It’s a worthy attempt in the spirit of Al Gore and all those who campaign for “sustainability”. But it won’t work. It can’t work. There’s a fundamental flaw at the very heart of it, which is that yet again, it’s all about the only thing we humans care about: us. It’s all about a better world for us.

Charles writes:

If we are to guarantee the well-being of our grandchildren and their grandchildren, then genuine sustainability has to become embedded in the DNA of business and government.

That may be true, but as long as as it’s all about ourselves and “future generations” of humans, the situation can only get worse.

We humans don’t have a solution to the problems we’ve created; we ARE the problem we’ve created.