UK Prince William warns of ‘environmental crisis’ facing planet

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The Duke of Cambridge in the UK has issued a warning about the “environmental crisis” engulfing the planet and the threat to its ecosystems, in a new documentary series for the public service broadcaster BBC.

Prince William highlights how humanity has created a world “at odds with the planet we live on” and urges action “for the sake of future generations”, in the five-part series that examines the environmental issues behind its Earthshot award.

His words are echoed by venerable natural history broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, an Earthshot Prize judge, who narrates some of the programs.

Mr Attenborough warns that humanity risks creating an “extinction event” like the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

The Duke launched his ambitious award to find solutions to the planet’s environmental problems and overcome the pessimism many feel about its future.

In the documentary, he appears in dramatic British landscapes, from mountains to the North Sea and an ancient ruined village in the northern Orkney archipelago, as he illustrates his arguments.

Each documentary is dedicated to one of the five global issues adopted in the Earthshot Award categories: protecting and restoring nature; purify our air, revive our oceans; build a world without waste; and fix our climate.

In the first episode of The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet, which is screened in the UK on Sunday, William talks about his inspiration for the awards – US President John F Kennedy’s moon landings, dubbed “Moonshot,” which resulted in technological breakthroughs.

Standing at the water’s edge in the Norfolk countryside in eastern England on a moonlit night, William said: “As we searched for the moon, we found the earth. For the first time, we were able to see that the world we live in is finite and precious.

“In the end, it woke us up to a heartbreaking truth that we still try to come to terms with – the modern world we have built is at odds with the planet we live on.

“It has happened, our planet is now in crisis, its delicately balanced systems are becoming more and more unstable with each passing year. So, for the sake of future generations, let’s act now, ”Prince William said.

“Let us take inspiration from the Moonshot, and set ourselves a global challenge for this decade, a common goal to unite behind, to mend our broken relationship with our planet and to build a better future for all.”

“It is precisely for this reason that I launched the Earthshot Prize, the most ambitious environmental prize in history. Each year until 2030 we will be awarding five £ 1million prizes to those who we believe can transform our chances of fixing our planet over the decade. “

The programs examine environmental issues around the world. From the loss of tropical forests in Borneo with the increase in palm oil plantations, to the destruction of the Amazon for grazing livestock, and to how dams threaten marine life and the livelihoods of people. fishermen along the Cambodian section of the Mekong.

Mr Attenborough said: “Over the past 50 years Borneo has lost 30% of its rainforests.

“The reason why wilderness areas around the world are still destroyed is simple, in today’s world, wilderness habitat brings in less financial income than cleared habitat.”

Solutions to the problems are highlighted, from the rewilding of Knepp, a 3,500 acre estate in West Sussex, south-east England, where once intensively cultivated land has been returned to nature, projects to reduce the land used in agriculture – a “cultured meat” initiative in Israel and the cultivation of innovative indoor products in the Netherlands.

Wildlife habitat paid for itself in Il Ngwesi, central Kenya, with community leader Kip Ole Polos describing how he and his peers own and manage an ecotourism lodge.

He told the documentary: “Wildlife brings us tourism and tourism brings us jobs.”

We risk causing the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs died 65 million years ago

Sir David Attenborough

Mr Attenborough has a stern warning.

“Humanity has left its mark on almost 95% of the Earth’s land surface. In the short period since 1970, populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have reportedly declined by an average of 60%, ”he said.

“We risk causing the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs died 65 million years ago.”

The three finalists in each category are featured during the series and include a 14-year-old girl from India who designed a solar-powered ironing cart, the government of Costa Rica, who started a project that pays local citizens to restore natural ecosystems, and a Chinese app that allows its citizens to hold polluters to account.

The BBC series airs ahead of the UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow from November 1

Earthshot Prize winners will be announced on October 17th.

Updated: October 1, 2021, 23:01

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