Prince Harry says climate change is one of the world’s two ‘most pressing issues’


Prince Harry today said it was ‘pretty depressing’ that children were growing up in a world where their home country was ‘either on fire or underwater’, insisting that climate change must be tackled ‘at the source’.

The Duke of Sussex warned that mental health and climate change are ‘the two most pressing issues’ society is facing, as he spoke in ‘The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward’, which came out on Apple TV+ early this morning.

Harry also talked about an analogy of ‘walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding, rather than just turning the tap off’ – and said the world needs a ‘reckoning moment’ after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Oprah, the Duke said: ‘With kids growing up in today’s world, pretty depressing, right, depending on where you live, your home country is either on fire, it’s either underwater, houses or forests are being flattened.

‘Climate change is really playing a huge part in this as well as social media, and we just don’t – well, I mean, I know lots of people out there are doing as best they can to try and fix these issues – but that whole sort of analogy of walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding, rather than just turning the tap off.

‘Are we supposed to accept that these problems are just going to grow and grow and grow and then we’re going to have to adapt to them and build the resilience amongst the next generation and the next generation and the next generation?

‘Or is there really a moment, a reckoning moment, post-Covid, where we can actually look at each other, look at ourselves and go ‘we need to do better about stopping or allowing the things that are causing so much harm to so many of us at the source, rather than being distracted by the symptom’.’

Harry lives with his wife Meghan Markle and their son Archie in an £11million mansion at Montecito in California, a state that has faced devastating wildfires recently with four of the largest in the state’s history last year alone.

And scientists said yesterday that dry weather this year raises the risk of severe fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands, warning a drought could fuel destruction of biomes cruicial to curbing climate change. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle board a private jet at Nice Airport in August 2019 after visiting Sir Elton John’s mansion

The Duke of Sussex has spoken in 'The Me You Can't See: A Path Forward', which came out on Apple TV+ early this morning

The Duke of Sussex has spoken in ‘The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward’, which came out on Apple TV+ early this morning

Amid concerns over drought conditions in America’s South West, a total of 2,340 fires have already burned 14,340 acres only five months into this year, a rise on 1,284 fires and 11,793 acres in the same period in 2020.

Speaking on the new Apple TV+ programme, Harry also said: ‘I believe even more that climate change and mental health are two of the most pressing issues that we’re facing and, in many ways, they are linked.

What Prince Harry said about climate change in his latest Apple TV+ show

‘With kids growing up in today’s world, pretty depressing, right, depending on where you live, your home country is either on fire, it’s either underwater, houses or forests are being flattened.

‘Climate change is really playing a huge part in this as well as social media, and we just don’t – well, I mean, I know lots of people out there are doing as best they can to try and fix these issues – but that whole sort of analogy of walking into the bathroom with a mop when the bath is over-flooding, rather than just turning the tap off.

‘Are we supposed to accept that these problems are just going to grow and grow and grow and then we’re going to have to adapt to them and build the resilience amongst the next generation and the next generation and the next generation?

‘Or is there really a moment, a reckoning moment, post-Covid, where we can actually look at each other, look at ourselves and go ‘we need to do better about stopping or allowing the things that are causing so much harm to so many of us at the source, rather than being distracted by the symptom’.’

‘I believe even more that climate change and mental health are two of the most pressing issues that we’re facing and, in many ways, they are linked.

‘The connecting line is about our collective well-being and when our collective well-being erodes, that effects our ability to be caretakers of ourselves, of our communities and of our planet ultimately.

‘We have to create a more supportive culture for each other where challenges don’t have to live in the dark, where vulnerability is healthy and encouraged and, of course, where physical and mental health can be treated equally because they are one.’

‘The connecting line is about our collective well-being and when our collective well-being erodes, that effects our ability to be caretakers of ourselves, of our communities and of our planet ultimately.

‘We have to create a more supportive culture for each other where challenges don’t have to live in the dark, where vulnerability is healthy and encouraged and, of course, where physical and mental health can be treated equally because they are one.’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have attracted significant condemnation over the past few years for taking private jet journeys while regularly speaking out on environmental issues.

The fiercest criticism came in August 2019 when Harry and Meghan took four private jet journeys in 11 days to and from Nice and Ibiza, rather than opting for commercial flights.

But the Duke has previously insisted he spends ’99 per cent of my life travelling the world by commercial’ and launched a sustainable travel initiative called ‘Travalyst’ which aims to better protect tourist destinations.

The concept of climate change and mental health being linked under so-called ‘eco-anxiety’ was discussed in a paper in The Lancet in April 2020 called ‘Mental health and climate change: tackling invisible injustice’.

The authors, Harriet Ingle and Michael Mikulewicz, said: ‘In countries hit by disasters we are likely to see increases in mental distress and the ability to recover will be determined by having efforts that promote resilience.

‘However, even in countries not yet directly affected by devastation due to climate change, there are numerous personal and clinical accounts of subclinical depressive emotions, despair, and guilt associated with the climate crisis and other global environmental issues.

‘A key factor that contributes to climate anxiety is knowing danger is coming but not having any appropriate scripts, skills, or direct agency in place to mitigate it.

‘So-called eco-anxiety is understood as the presence of anxiety in relation to the existential threat that the climate and ecological crises represent.

‘Distress related to impending environmental change, such as eco-anxiety and habitual ecological worrying, is increasingly noted by mental health professionals, although there are no official statistics on how many people are affected.’

During the latest Apple TV+ show, which followed his docuseries with Oprah that came out last Friday, Harry also spoke with Robin Williams’s son Zak about the difficulties of grieving a family member who was in the public eye.  

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex disembark from a commercial plane upon their arrival at Suva in Fiji in October 2018

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex disembark from a commercial plane upon their arrival at Suva in Fiji in October 2018

Prince Harry (left) launched a sustainable travel initiative called 'Travalyst' in Amsterdam in September 2019

Prince Harry (left) launched a sustainable travel initiative called ‘Travalyst’ in Amsterdam in September 2019

Robin Williams, the four-time Oscar winning actor, took his own life in 2014. 

Zak said: ‘From my end it was really hard to separate initially the process of privately grieving versus sharing the grieving with the general public.

‘I really didn’t get a chance to really focus on the private grieving process until a year and a half after my dad passed away.’

The duke, whose mother Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997, said: ‘I think we have a lot of shared experience when you talk about that … when you see so many people around the world grieving for someone they feel as though they knew them better than you did in a weird way because you’re unable to grieve yourself.

‘It’s like … how are you grieving more for someone who was my parent and I’m unable to grieve myself?’ 

A firefighter works to stop the spread of Loma Fire last week off Via del Cielo in Santa Barbara, California, on May 21

A firefighter works to stop the spread of Loma Fire last week off Via del Cielo in Santa Barbara, California, on May 21

Harry and Meghan faced criticism in August 2019 after taking four private jet flights in 11 days, rather than commercial flights

Harry and Meghan faced criticism in August 2019 after taking four private jet flights in 11 days, rather than commercial flights

The 90-minute show had experts from The Me You Can’t See advisory board further discussing issues raised during the five-part series on mental health.

Earlier in the docuseries, Harry said he was ‘somewhat ashamed’ of the way he dealt with Meghan sharing her suicidal thoughts before a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2019.

Harry picked up on a point raised by Jo Robinson, head of suicide prevention research at Orygen, about the importance of talking openly about suicide and self-harm.

Such communication helps give voice to something that’s ‘terribly distressing and terribly frightening for them to talk about’, she said.

The duke said: ‘I think it’s so interesting because so many people are afraid of being on the receiving end of that conversation (about suicide) because they don’t feel as though they have the right tools to be able to give the right advice but what you’re saying is you’re there. 

Harry and Robin Williams' son Zak spoke on Oprah's show of the difficulties of grieving a family member in the public eye

Harry and Robin Williams’ son Zak spoke on Oprah’s show of the difficulties of grieving a family member in the public eye

Oprah and Harry speak with mental health professionals and experts in 'The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward' this Friday

Oprah and Harry speak with mental health professionals and experts in ‘The Me You Can’t See: A Path Forward’ this Friday

‘Listen, because listening and being part of that conversation is, without a doubt, the best first step that you can take.’

Pop superstar Lady Gaga and actress Glenn Close also featured in the series, with Gaga discussing her serious mental health struggles after she was raped as a teenager.

Close returned for the conversation special and spoke about the impact of Covid-19 on her wellbeing. She told Harry and Winfrey: ‘It has directly affected my mental health. It helped that I had a dog.

‘I think – and I was thinking about this today – we have gone through an amazing, unprecedented time now. For me, I think it’s as big a shift in the world as 9/11 was.

‘We now are in a transforming world. It will take us a while to be able to articulate to ourselves what the result of that has been on us as individuals.’



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