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We’ve only got 10 years to save the planet, warns Prince Charles

We’ve only got 10 years to save the planet, warns Prince Charles on the 50th anniversary of landmark speech he gave on plastic pollution and other threats to the environment

  • The Prince of Wales warns that humans have just ten years left to save planet  
  • Comes 50 years after he warned about plastic waste and chemical discharge 
  • This was regarded as ‘completely potty’ at the time, said Prince Charles 

The Prince of Wales has issued a stark warning that humans have just ten years left to save the planet.

‘We really do have to pull our fingers out now because the theory is we have got this decade left,’ he declared.

Prince Charles was marking the 50th anniversary of a landmark speech he made on the environment by calling for nature to be put back at the centre of modern life.

In 1970, he had warned about the problems of plastic waste, chemicals being discharged into rivers and air pollution caused by factories, cars and planes. This was regarded as ‘completely potty’, said the Prince.

The Prince of Wales delivers a speech during a visit to officially open the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) in Coventry on Tuesday

The Prince of Wales delivers a speech during a visit to officially open the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC) in Coventry on Tuesday 

There was also derision for his practical solutions, like a bottle bank at Buckingham Palace or installing a reed-bed sewage treatment system at his Highgrove home in Gloucestershire.

Speaking in an interview on the Sustainable Markets website, the Prince said: ‘Everything we are doing has been to destroy our own means of survival, let alone the survival of everything else we depend on.

‘But at the same time, we seem to be unable to understand that there is an alternative way of doing it, which is to put nature back at the centre, value everything she does and build from there, and now there is an amazing amount that can be done through the circular bio-economy.’

Since his speech on February 19, 1970, to the Countryside Steering Committee for Wales, Charles has worked to develop solutions to climate change and highlighted issues like overfishing and the threat to the world’s rainforests.

He recently launched his latest project, the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council, supported by the World Economic Forum.

The initiative aims to bring together leading individuals from the public and private sectors, charitable bodies and investors to identify ways to rapidly decarbonise the global economy.

The Prince added that scientists and evidence indicate that people are causing a ‘much more rapid rise in temperature and a much more rapid destruction of the Arctic and now the Antarctic’.

Since his speech on February 19, 1970, to the Countryside Steering Committee for Wales, Charles has worked to develop solutions to climate change and highlighted issues like overfishing and the threat to the world's rainforests

 Since his speech on February 19, 1970, to the Countryside Steering Committee for Wales, Charles has worked to develop solutions to climate change and highlighted issues like overfishing and the threat to the world’s rainforests

He said: ‘It is a question of trying to put the fire out very quickly and the real issue is how do we rapidly decarbonise?’

He also told how, as a teenager in the 1960s, he was concerned about the destruction of trees, wetlands and habitats as well as ‘the white heat of progress and technology to the exclusion of nature and our surroundings’.

In his 1970 address, Charles highlighted a problem that has become an illustration of humanity’s threat to nature.

Then he had said: ‘When you think that each person produces roughly 2lb of rubbish per day and there are 55 million of us on this island using non-returnable bottles and indestructible plastic containers, it is not difficult to imagine the mountains of refuse that we shall have to deal with somehow.’

Of his warnings 50 years ago, he said: ‘I was considered rather dotty, to say the least, for even suggesting these things, rather like when I set up a reed-bed sewage treatment system at Highgrove – that was considered completely mad. Everything I suggested was completely potty, apparently.’

The Daily Mail has long campaigned on fighting waste with our Turn the Tide on Plastic Campaign. 

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