King Charles III’s climate and environmental beliefs are chaotic

When King Charles III took the throne last week after the death of his mother, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, some commentators They hasten to point out that the Septuagint may be the first.”Climate King. After all, the heir to the British throne has spent the past 50 years speaking out about climate change, pollution and deforestation. Much has been said about the new king’s fondness Organic Agriculture so is express support for climate action. Last year, at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, assembled world leaders urged the adoption of a “war floor” to tackle a rapidly warming planet.

But Charles’s environmental views are complex: a classic ecologist who loves nature, trees and wild animals, a traditionalist who fought wind power on his property, traveled the world in private jets and once criticized population growth. in the developing world. It represents some irony in a world dealing with climate change: a man with enormous wealth and a large carbon footprint is speaking out against global warming; A political figure with little real political influence.

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Many of Charles’ ideas about the natural world smell of the classic environment of the 1960s and 1970s – the era in which he grew up. in “Harmony: a new way of looking at our worldA 2010 book by the then Prince of Wales, Charles criticizes what he calls “machine thinking” in factory farming, industrialization and even the Enlightenment, arguing that humanity’s attempt to separate itself from nature created more problems than it solved. He sings in his opposition to GDP , or gross domestic product, as a way of measuring the success of nations.And – at odd moments – he praises the “sacred geometry” that united in his mind the architecture of Spanish mosques and the orbits of the planets.

The new king also put his ideas into practice in many of his possessions. house is Sold In Scotland to a kind of ecological classroom, where children learn about soil health. His country is proud Organic farm which was started by Charles in 1985. In striking detail it was also Repeatedly in the media Several times, Charles has apparently modified his Aston Martin to run Leftover wine and cheese.

But there’s a more controversial aspect to King’s green views, too. Charles – like his father Prince Philip before him – sometimes waded in a sticky quagmire of population growth. in Speech At Oxford University’s Sheldonian Theater in 2010, then-Prince Charles noted: “When I was born in 1948, a city like Lagos in Nigeria had a population of only 300,000; today, just over 60 years later, it is home to 20 million.” .

With rapidly growing populations in Mumbai, Cairo, Mexico City and cities in other developing countries around the world, Charles said Earth could not “sustain all of us, when the pressures on its bounty are too great.” In “Harmony,” he reiterated the same concern, arguing that population growth – which has long been considered an issue too hot to tackle – needs to be addressed.

Overpopulation concerns are not new, and have sometimes been echoed by other members of the royal family and famous Britons. Philip once calledVoluntary family restrictionsLikewise, David Attenborough, Britain’s most famous nature broadcaster He said That “population growth must end.”

It would seem that there is little logic in blaming climate change on the world’s population, which is now approaching 8 billion. But there is a long and fraught history thinkers in developed countries A critique of population growth in developing countries. Betsy Hartman, Professor Emeritus of Development Studies at Hampshire College, has He saidIn the ‘too many people’ ideology, some people are always ‘too much’.

And developing countries, where population growth is highest, also have the smallest carbon footprint for each additional person. In Nigeria, for example, each individual represents an average 0.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. In the United States, this figure is 13.7 metric tons. Meanwhile, developed countries have either declining or relatively stable birth rates.

King’s enthusiasm for clean energy also has some asterisks. I have put Solar Panels In his London mansion and home, but according to the British newspaper The Sunday Times, he also refused to install wind turbines In the Duchy of Cornwall, a vast land covering nearly 200 square miles. (According to The Guardian, Charles Once They are called wind turbines “A horrific smudge on the landscape.”)

In a way, Charles is an icon of how old-school environmental values ​​clash with the needs and requirements of a decarbonized world. Being a traditional conservationist – someone who loves trees, nature and animals – does not mean that you support the changes needed to combat climate change. In some cases, OA can be more Carbon and resource intensive from traditional farming. Decarbonization will require a Vast area of ​​land solar, wind and geothermal energy; It would also require advanced technologies – better batteries, machines that suck carbon dioxide from the sky – which Charles has historically criticized as forms of “machine thinking”.

There is, of course, another irony in the idea that Charles is “the climate king.” The royal family possesses wealth almost unimaginable to the rest of the world. As a prince, Charles traveled the world extensively on a private jet. As king, he would likely do more high-carbon aviation, easily putting his personal carbon emissions at zero points higher than all humans on the planet. And while the carbon footprint is a blunt tool for measuring environmental impact, the world’s richest people, including the royal family, live in ways that are hard to align with a rapidly warming planet. (according to one studyThe richest 1 percent of the world’s population produces Double carbon emissions for the poorest 50 percent.)

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The question is whether Charles now, as king, will continue to be a voice in climate and the environment. He has said that in his new position, he will not be able to be a general defender as he has done in the past. “It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energy to charities and causes that I care deeply about.” He said In a televised address last week. And as king, he would have precious little input into the work of the British government. (Likewise, Queen Elizabeth II, for the vast majority of the time, refused to interfere in politics.)

But the new king’s environmental record can still influence the British public, even if he does not have direct policy-making power. One study Published in Nature Energy last year argued that people of high socioeconomic status – which Charles certainly represents – are largely responsible for global warming and may have a disproportionate power over fighting the problem. They can do this through their investments, influence politicians and other powerful people, or generally redefine”good lifeIt should look. In Britain, the Conservative Party is likely to approve of the monarchy and reject pro-environment policies. It is possible that Charles’ example might prompt some members to think more carefully about the environment, climate change and nature which he holds so dear.

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