Prince Charles has pointed to the world’s failure to tackle climate change as a root cause of the civil war in Syria, terrorism and the consequent refugee crisis engulfing Europe.
The heir to the British throne is due to give a keynote speech at the opening of a global climate summit in Paris next week where 118 leaders will gather to try to nail down a deal to limit rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The prince said in an interview with Sky News, to be aired on Monday and recorded before the Nov 13 attacks in Paris, that such symptoms were a “classic case of not dealing with the problem”.
“Some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change which means that people have to move,” he said.
“And in fact there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land but increasingly they came into the cities.”
Asked in the interview, which Sky said was filmed three weeks ago, whether there was direct link between climate change, conflict and terrorism, Charles said: “Absolutely.”
“We never deal with the underlying root cause which regrettably is what we’re doing to our natural environment,” he said, noting that far greater problems lay ahead if climate change was not addressed immediately.
Even in a time of austerity, the world could not afford not to act, he said.
“I mean the difficulties in 2008 with the financial crash – that was a banking crisis. But we’re now facing a real possibility of nature’s bank going bust,” he said.
"Funnily enough", it seems obvious that the Prince himself is a product of global warming. Just a few months before he was born, the UK experienced an extraordinary heatwave, which quite possibly could be the "underlying root cause" for the kind opinions he is now expressing:
At 4pm on 29 July 1948 the Olympic Flag was hoisted 11 metres up its pole and 2,500 pigeons were released into a hot and sunny afternoon with nary a film director in sight.
That day in London there was virtually unbroken sunshine and the temperature soared to 32.8 deg C, as it did on the previous and following days, in the midst of a week-long heatwave across the UK.
Archived charts reveal that there was a sausage of high pressure from southern Scandinavia to eastern Europe and the Black Sea. Previous days had seen a high pressure centre over the Baltic extend a ridge south-westwards to join with the Azores High, and in that still air the heat had built, with subsequent south to south-easterly flows drawing more hot continental air into Britain.
This short spell of intense heat was highly unusual for not only the 1940s but the 30s and 50s as well. For a quarter of a century between 1932 and 1957 this was the only year in which the temperature anywhere in the UK reached 35 deg C, which it did at Milford, Surrey, on 28 July.