Paul and Anne Ehrlich's report is a timely and urgent reminder of how the collapse of civilizations has, in the past, been caused by the degradation of Nature's services, and how that process is now being repeated on a global scale. The services provided by Nature underpin all global economic development. Whether it be the capture of carbon and its storage by forests and oceans, the natural renewal of the soil's fertility or the replenishment of our freshwater supplies, we rely entirely on Nature's benevolence to sustain development. And, tragically, it seems increasingly evident that the depletion of natural capital and the accompanying problems of water, food and energy security can be critical catalysts for acute social and political instability.
We do, in fact, have all the tools, assets and knowledge to avoid the collapse of which this report warns, but only if we act decisively now. If, though, in our evermore interconnected and complex world, we are to succeed, real leadership and vision is required. It is just possible that we can rise to this challenge, but to do so we will need to adjust our world view in a profound and comprehensive way. We have to see ourselves as utterly embedded in Nature and not somehow separate from those precious systems that sustain all life.
I have said it before, and I will say it again our grandchildren’s future depends entirely on whether we seize the initiative and prevaricate no further. The alternative hardly bears thinking about. I hold to the fact that it is not in humanity’s nature to fail. But, as I have long tried to point out, to continue with “business as usual” is an act of suicide on a gargantuan scale.
HRH The Prince of Wales