Page last updated at 21:51 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 22:51 UK

Prince fears Earth 'catastrophe'

The prince says we must look after the Earth

The Prince of Wales has issued a fresh warning of environmental catastrophe, telling an audience in London "if we fail the Earth, we fail humanity".

Prince Charles said we must "urgently confront" the risks to avoid "destroying our children's future".

He was delivering the 33rd Richard Dimbleby lecture at St James's Palace, in honour of the late broadcaster.

The prince's audience included former US President Bill Clinton and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

'Enormous shortcomings'

In his pre-recorded address, broadcast on BBC One, Charles said a new system which was more "balanced and integrated with nature's complexity" was needed.

In the speech called Facing The Future, he said we were "at an historic moment - because we face a future where there is a real prospect that if we fail the Earth, we fail humanity.

The true wealth of all nations comes from clean rivers, healthy soil and, most importantly of all, a rich biodiversity of life
Prince Charles

"To avoid such an outcome, which will comprehensively destroy our children's future, we must urgently confront and then make choices which carry monumental implications."

He said the maintenance of the world's eco-systems was directly linked to the economic well-being of nations.

"We are standing at a moment of substantial transition where we face the dual challenges of a world view and an economic system that seem to have enormous shortcomings, together with an environmental crisis - including that of climate change - which threatens to engulf us all."

He added: "We must remember that the ultimate source of all economic capital is Nature's capital.

"The true wealth of all nations comes from clean rivers, healthy soil and, most importantly of all, a rich biodiversity of life."

Charles pointed out that mankind had caused the Arctic sea ice to thin and rainforests to shrink by a third since the 1950s.

The heir to the throne has been particularly outspoken on environmental issues and in the last 12 months has visited eco-systems in Indonesia, Borneo and Brazil.

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