Prince Charles Blames World’s Ills On ‘Soulless Consumerism’ and Galileo
June 9, 2010
Ruth Gledhill and Ben Webster
The Prince of Wales has blamed a lack of belief in the soul for the world’s environmental problems, and said that the planet cannot sustain a population expected to reach 9 billion in 40 years.
He said he found it “baffling” that so many scientists professed a faith in God yet this had little bearing on the “damaging” way science was used to exploit the natural world.
The Prince pinned part of the blame on Galileo. Criticising the profit imperative behind much scientific research, he said: “This imbalance, where mechanistic thinking is so predominant, goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion.
“This is the view that continues to frame the general perception of the way the world works, and how we fit within the scheme of things.
“As a result, Nature has been completely objectified — ‘She’ has become an ‘it’ — and we are persuaded to concentrate on the material aspect of reality that fits within Galileo’s scheme.” The Prince said that he believed “green technology” alone could not resolve the world’s environmental problems. Instead, the West must do something about its “deep, inner crisis of the soul”.
Speaking at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies to mark its 25th anniversary, the Prince — who is patron of the centre — said that the West had been been “de-souled” by consumerism.
He said that the present approach to the environment was contrary to the teachings of all of the world’s sacred traditions. The desire for financial profit ignored the spiritual teachings.
“Over the years, I have pointed out again and again that our environmental problems cannot be solved simply by applying yet more and more of our brilliant green technology — important though it is.
“It is no good just fixing the pump and not the well,” he said. Talk of an “environmental crisis” or of a “financial crisis” was actually describing “the outward consequences of a deep, inner crisis of the soul”.
Focusing on population growth, he warned of “monumental problems” as numbers rose. “It would certainly help if the acceleration slowed down, but it would also help if the world reduced its desire to consume,” he said.
The claim that population growth is one of the greatest environmental problems was challenged last year in a study by the International Institute for Environment and Development. The London-based think-tank claimed that a population explosion in poor countries would contribute little to climate change, and was a dangerous distraction from the “main problem” of over-consumption in rich nations.
The world’s population has risen from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 6.8 billion. It is growing by 75 million a year, and is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Nine of the ten countries with the highest growth rates up to 2050 are in Africa.
See also: 'Follow the Islamic way to save the world,' Prince Charles urges environmentalists