The Prince of Wales Offers a New Way of Looking at the World (Book Review)


Photo credit: Harper Collins Publishers

Some might argue that with offshore wind and vast solar arrays, smart grids and electric cars, pollution limits and trading schemes, and a burgeoning economy of clean technology and services, it is likely that humanity has all the necessary tools to solve the planet's mounting problems.

The challenge, it has been said many times, is to find a way to wield these tools that is quick, just, and effective. It's a challenge, HRH The Prince of Wales argues in his new book Harmony, of epistemology that can only be solved with a change of perspective.Of course, changing the way people think about problems is no easy task. This is nowhere more obvious than in the debate over climate change; where opposing sides have trouble even defining the terms of the debate.

The root, Harmony suggests, is that people have lost touch with the "traditional philosophy" that allows the world to be seen "as the ancients saw it." Essentially, The Prince of Wales suggests, the simple solution to the world's pressing environmental problems is the development of a more balanced view of nature that acknowledges humanity's impact on it.

The advice is dangerously close to being reductionist and romantic but, by taking a long tour through history and philosophy, Harmony shows, clearly, that its message is simply common sense.

And it is in this common-sense wisdom that the book is most endearing and powerful.

The Prince of Wales writes:

If people are encouraged to immerse themselves in Nature's grammar and geometry they are often led to acquire some remarkably deep philosophical insights.

It's language befitting a king-to-be but the message is plain: Spend a morning in the garden, or an afternoon on a trail, and it becomes easy to understand what is missing from the bustle of modern life. Replace what is missing, The Prince says, and change can truly begin.

Indeed, such a change would not be small. Harmony begins with a declaration: "This is a call to revolution."

The irony of a monarch calling for revolution has not been lost on reviewers and is the result, perhaps, of poor phrasing. The reality is that Harmony is not a "call to revolution" but rather an invitation to one.

With his latest book, it's as though HRH The Prince of Wales has opened the gates to Highgrove—the private organic garden that has been his laboratory for studying the environment—to share the revelations he has made over the last 30 or more years.

For some, the insights may not be surprising but for many who might otherwise ignore the problems facing the environment, the invitation will be too compelling to refuse.

Read more about The Prince of Wales:
A Visit to Prince Charles' Highgrove Garden
Quote of the Day: Prince Charles on Climate and the Economy
8 Environmentalists Who Rule: The Globe's Greenest Royalty

Tags: Book Reviews

Best of TreeHugger 2014

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK