A prince against progress

In: Uncategorized

18 Jun 2010

The speech by Prince Charles in Oxford last week on Islam and the environment was essentially an attack on the Enlightenment notion that humans should strive to dominate nature.  That is they should mould the environment to meet human needs rather than live in harmony with nature.

Instead the prince would prefer to go back to the idea of living in a balance with nature. Or, as he puts it:

“In short, when we hear talk of an “environmental crisis” or even of a “financial crisis,” I would suggest that this is actually describing the outward consequences of a deep, inner crisis of the soul. It is a crisis in our relationship with – and our perception of – Nature, and it is born of Western culture being dominated for at least two hundred years by a mechanistic and reductionist approach to our scientific understanding of the world around us.”

Charles explicitly calls for cuts in consumption and also raises population as a problem (see 13 June post). He also says nothing about the huge benefits of prosperity to humanity.

None of this should come as any surprise coming from a hereditary monarch. He is, after all, someone who obtained his position as next in line to the throne by being in the right womb at the same time. No doubt he would like to go back to the divine right of kings.

* PS: The Wall Street Journal Europe started its editorial on the subject on Monday with a cutting remark:

“The last time we checked in on Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne was boasting of having cut his personal carbon emissions by a few hundred tons per annum—surely a praiseworthy feat for a man whose three mansions reportedly produce emissions equivalent to 500 average homes. Now the Prince is in the news again for urging an Oxford audience to look to Islam for tips on how to save the planet.”

* PPS (19 June). Christopher Hitchens also attacked the prince’s speech in an article on Slate.