Prince William now says we have 10 years to save the planet 10 years after his father, Prince Charles, told us we had only 100 months to sort things out.
This doom-mongering is counter-productive. It just switches people off instead of focusing on the action required to prevent mankind doing further damage to the world.
I have been waiting for 30 years for the Maldives to disappear beneath the waves and for glaciers to desert the Himalayas, among other places.
Reasonably, for a change, you might blame Margaret Thatcher. In 1989 she was the first political leader to focus attention on the damage being done by man to the planet, though some 15 years later she bemoaned the whole issue being corrupted by the Left.
Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, other assorted “environmentalists” and, indeed, a lot of scientists, have since done enough damage to the cause without assistance from our princes.
I say this without disrespect. Both Prince Charles, and also Prince William, are right in recognising the existence of a problem.
My concern is how they are going about it. My time as a press secretary teaches me that the only effective communication is that which is – and remains – credible.
It is simply incredible to Joe Bloggs that all will be lost within a decade – unless we are hit by some all consuming force from outer space.
Having said that, Prince William redeems himself with his annual Earthshot Prize for practical solutions to climate change without damaging economic growth. Action – not empty scares – are what is required.
In taking the initiative, Prince William has immediately set professional environmentalists grinding their teeth. They want to end capitalism, not fit it environmentally for the 21st century.
Would they, I wonder, be so opposed to fossil fuels had Arthur Scargill and his private army not conveniently brought about the demise of Britain’s coal industry?
And how do these enemies of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases remain content for Drax power station to help to destroy forests by burning subsidised biomass (wood)?
But that is by the way. Prince William wants to reward innovators who can so cleanse our atmosphere that potential threats to civilisation are minimised and eventually eliminated.
That would require their global adoption since we in the UK contribute a mere one per cent to global emissions, though perhaps more to plastic and rubbish pollution.
There is not a blind bit of use promoting electric cars unless we can provide clean power. And there is no mystery how to do that. It is to go nuclear. Yet “environmentalists” are fanatically opposed to a source of clean energy that has killed infinitely fewer people than coal, oil or gas exploration and production.
I fully accept that Hinkley Point nuclear power station being built by the French EDF company is a lousy, expensive advert for atomic energy. But we pioneered nuclear power stations that work economically and could do so again if we had a rational energy policy.
Instead, for 30 years or more our politicians and Civil Service have pandered to “environmentalists” with subsidised unreliable wind and solar power so that the safety margin is far too tight for Boris Johnson’s go-ahead economy.
If Prince William’s competition can secure acceptability for nuclear power, promote commercial battery technology and open the way to “new” forms of reliable and cost-effective propulsion such as hydrogen, he will become a national hero.
But this requires not just scientific innovation but the conquering of obstructive prejudices and politically correct attitudes to economic progress. And nowhere do those attitudes need reforming more than in government.
Some will say that I have forgotten nuclear fusion (as distinct from current nuclear fission) as a desirable end. I have not. But for 40 years I have been assured we shall have it in 40 years’ time and it’s still 40 years away. If Prince William can speed it up, let’s give the lad three cheers.
In short, I am all in favour of his competition, provided it comes up with solutions that are not merely effective and economic but also acceptable.
And there’s the rub since public attitudes are so illogical. We know how to avoid pollution. But will people accept them – and stop littering the drive to my garage?