Time to change?
The Prince of Wales, Patron of BGCI, is to question the environmental impact of our way of life with the launch of a new book and documentary film. The book, called Harmony, is due to be published in 2010. The Prince is working on the book with co-authors Ian Skelly and ex-Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper. Juniper said he was delighted to be involved in such an important project: "I hope his ideas will take the debate – about balancing the needs of the economy with those of ecology – on to a new stage."
Prince Charles said: "We need to consider anew the timeless principles which underpinned so much of civilisation before industrialisation took such a comprehensive hold on the world."
This comes at a time when forestry scientists have warned that forests' role as massive carbon sinks is at risk of being lost entirely.
The new report, by The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), says that as well as massive deforestation, forests are also under increasing stress as a result of climate change. Forests could release vast amounts of carbon if temperatures rise 2.5 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels, it adds. Compiled by 35 leading forestry scientists, the report provides what is described as the first global assessment of the ability of forests to adapt to climate change.
Elsewhere, a recent study published by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) says that water levels in some of the world's most important rivers have declined significantly over the past 50 years. The reduced flows are linked to climate change and will have a major impact as human populations grow.
Much of the reduction has been caused by human activities such as the building of dams and the diversion of water for agriculture, but the researchers highlighted the contribution of climate change, saying that rising temperatures were altering rainfall patterns and increasing rates of evaporation. This will have a huge impact on plantlife.
And finally, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK set out to calculate what the UK energy consumption would be if the weight of the population was put back a few decades. They found that the rising numbers of people who are overweight and obese in the UK means the nation uses 19% more food than 40 years ago, a study suggests. That could equate to an extra 60 mega-tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the team calculated.
Climate change is clearly already impacting our forests and watersheds. Now is the time to embrace renewable energy, question our consumption habits and place much more value on our plants and trees.
Read our climate change report for more information on how plants and climate change are interlinked or visit our climate change education resources pages.
We're busy developing a climate change and plants education pack so get in touch if you'd like to know more about this.