Prince Harry recently spoke out about the climate crisis, but has he just caused even more eco-anxiety? Alarmists, like Prince Harry, need to see the bigger picture, argues Noel Yaxley. 

Speaking at the launch of WaterBear – a platform that offers free and original documentaries focusing on conservation and environmental issues – the Prince decided to wax-woke on climate change, saying:

"…the moment you become a father, everything really does change because then you start to realise, well, what is the point in bringing a new person in to this world when they get to your age and it's on fire?"

As someone who would describe himself as a rational optimist, I would like to argue that far from facing imminent heat death, the state of the planet is nowhere near as bad as the doomsayers believe it to be. My point here is not to straw-man Prince Harry – merely point out that through a closer examination of the facts, his statement is absurd. It is not necessarily his fault. It is the apocalyptic vision put forth in articles by environmental journalists and activists that has probably led people like Harry to make such spurious claims when it comes to climate change.

Who knows. Perhaps Harry graduated from the same school of thought as Extinction Rebellion? The Roger Hallam University of baseless claims?

Maybe Harry's concern is related to the wildfires that destroyed over 3 million acres of land in California earlier this year? He does after all own a £11 million mansion in Montecito, California. He could've picked up a copy of the Los Angeles Times on September 13th and read the headline: 'California's climate apocalypse' Or read the words of California's Governor Gavin Newsom when he tweeted "We're in a climate crisis."

Whilst higher temperatures can play a role in the spread of wildfires, it is not a straight-forward example of climate change. It was sparks from a power line that started the 2018 Camp Fire which killed 86 people. Other possibilities include the failure to remove built up dead wood – known as fuel loads. Forestry experts believe that the failure to clear forests of these fuel loads has played a salient role in the spread and ferocity of the wildfires.

Or maybe the Prince is worried for the future of the country he so quickly left behind. If so, he need not worry.

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His hyperbolic statement comes the very same day new data was released showing U.K carbon emissions fell 10.3 per cent over the course of 2020 whilst during the first nine months of the year demand for energy fell 12 per cent. All this from a country that emits just one per cent of all global carbon emissions. Perhaps on his next flying visit to the U.K he should take a minute to breathe in the fresh air. Between 1970 and 2017, sulphur dioxide emissions fell a whopping 97 per cent. During the same period, nitrogen oxide levels plummeted 72 per cent and non-methane volatile organic compounds fell by 66 per cent. As for particulate matter – the controversial compound potentially responsible for breathing problems? Well, levels of small-particulate pollution (PM2.5) have decreased by 79 per cent.

As for the rest of the planet? Well the first half of 2020 saw a massive decrease in C02 emissions: a colossal 1551 million tonnes. Globally that's 8.8 per cent less c02 than was emitted during the same period in 2019.

If he is worried about climate change wiping out humanity, he need not worry. When it comes to deaths from global weather-related disasters they have decreased 90 per cent over the past hundred years despite a four-fold increase in population. Does he think we will all drown due to rising sea levels? Well, the IPCC believe they will rise – but the median projection based on current predictions means, at most a 50 centimetre rise by 2100. Sure, some low lying countries like the Netherlands and Bangladesh will face problems, but this is all well within the reach of technology and human ingenuity.

Truth of the matter is we are well and truly on our way to having a cleaner environment. Harry's claim implies that in thirty years time he thinks the world will be on fire – I make that 2050. Is that not the target for a net-zero emitting country like Britain? We're not there yet, but we're well on the way. We have, after all, decarbonised our economy faster than any other country in the G20.

I really hope all Harry's progressive posturing doesn't cause Archie to end up suffering from 'eco-anxiety'. It was reported by the BBC that a fifth of British children were having nightmares about the state of the planet.

China is the country responsible for the largest percentage of carbon emissions. Maybe he should go there and complain?

Or maybe he should've stayed here – in Britain where he could enjoy the environmental progress we have made and not be swayed by alarmists?

Just a thought.

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