The Prince of Wales this week warned that the destruction of rainforests is “the greatest risk that we have ever faced”.
And speaking at a meeting of renowned tropical forest scientists and politicians at St James’s Palace he warned that global leaders “must act now” because “the risk of not doing so is far too great”.
Speaking after a two-day meeting on how to protect the world’s rainforests, the Prince likened Earth’s condition to that of a doctor treating a sick child when the cause of illness was not known for certain.
He said: "The doctor cannot wait until results of tests come back from the lab – the doctor must act on what evidence is already there.
“There is an urgency that depends upon the risk involved, and given that this is the greatest risk we have ever faced, surely, as the doctor, we can’t wait to act.
“If we see our forests and the planet as our patient, the risk of delay is so enormous that we cannot wait until we are absolutely sure the patient is dying. That is a monumental risk no doctor would ever take.”
His Royal Highness added that his work on this issue was often “disheartening”.
The Prince went on: "I am afraid that we do not have much time.
“I have to say that one of the many disheartening aspects of these sorts of gatherings is the number of times I, and I am sure you, have repeated all this and the number of years during which I have done so to the point that I sometimes wonder whether I am in fact dreaming this incessant nightmare of hearing the echo of my own voice.”
He called on leaders to have “the courage to face down a storm of opposition from all sides, claiming the end of the world as we know it”.
The Prince of Wales has been interested in the conservation of tropical rainforests and the environment for a number of years.
In October 2007 he set up The Prince’s Rainforests Project, and has previously said it would be an “act of suicide on a grand scale” to ignore environmental issues.
The Prince also quipped about climate change sceptics in his speech.
He said: “When it comes to the incorporated society of syndicated sceptics and the International Association of Corporate lobbyists any scientist is likely to find him or herself up the proverbial double blind gum-tree!”
The meeting was also addressed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, and Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary.
Mr Davey said the Government is pursuing an “ambitious and innovative strategy” and praised the scientists gathered at the meeting for their “noble and necessary work”.
He added: “I can’t compromise here because the science is overwhelming – because climate change threatens every man, woman and child.”
The group of scientists and The Prince also issued a St. James’s Palace memorandum on tropical forest science, calling for “strategic investment” and global action to halt the destruction of the world’s rainforests.