Prince Charles adds his voice

Do more to save planet or man faces extinction, warns Charles

Ross Lydall

Mankind faces extinction unless people wake up to the “rapacious” loss of the earth’s natural resources, Prince Charles warned today.

He issued a plea for greater action, saying the planet faces a “sixth great extinction event” unless the loss of land and increasing pollution is halted.

The Prince used his appointment as president of environment charityWWF-UK to declare: “Its ultimate impact is plainly not at all clear to most people – without the biodiversity that is so threatened, we won’t be able to survive ourselves.”

Charles, who today succeeded his cousin Princess Alexandra as president, suggested it might take a “cause célèbre” akin to the survival of the panda or banning of DDT pesticides to “make humanity really see the extent of our predicament”.

Bemoaning the loss of “our personal sense of connection to the natural world”, he said: “Every year, for instance, we seem to come ever closer to the terrifying prospect of an ice-free Arctic Ocean, the loss of sea ice on the top of the world.

As we view the world from space, just think what we might see all too soon – nothing but dark oceans rather than white at the top. Would this make us all think more profoundly about what we are doing to our world?”

He added: “What I am alluding to is our spiritual connection to the natural world because, without it, life would surely be pointless.

“It may not seem to make much difference economically if the swallows, swifts and house martins no longer turn up each spring, but what would life be like if we just accepted their extinction?”

Joking that he had backed the 50-year-old WWF-UK since childhood because it “stood up for endangered species” like himself, he said he had been “harping on” about sustainability for years.

But he withstood the “brickbats” and criticism “because the issues we face are so important”. He added: “None of us must be afraid to stand up and be counted.”

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