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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Book review for " Harmony" by HRH Prince Charles with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly

As I noted on Dec 27th I received a copy of this new book which I have started to read in my spare time so it may take me some time. In the meantime I am posting a review of the book which I think is a good introduction to its central theme of sustainability and encourages me to continue. I hope to add my own comments in due course:

Harmony is the title of a new book by the Prince of Wales, and also the condition that he believes is missing from much of the modern world.
The book is his attempt to set out his vision of the world as it was, as it is, and as it could be. His argument is that previous generations had a spiritual connection with the natural world around them. The scientific and industrial revolutions that have transformed Western societies over the past 400 years have caused us to lose that connection and replace it with a limited, mechanical view of the world. The result is a broken, fragmented culture that has lost it's way and is inflicting great harm on itself and on nature.
The book was written in conjunction with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly and the sheer volume of diverse subjects can be almost overwhelming at times. It covers thousands of years and many issues affecting people on every continent, many of which are likely to be familiar from the media controversies that have followed the Prince in recent times. From modern architecture to intensive farming practices, it makes a convincing case that this internal shift in the way we think has led to massive damage in the outside world. There is a look at philosophy from the Ancient Greeks to the Islamic world and to indigenous peoples in many countries. There are also many examples of projects around the world that are seeking to put right some of this damage and these are accompanied by many beautiful, colour photographs.
Often these examples are taken from projects that the Prince has either set up himself or supported in some way. While not wanting to take anything away from this valuable work it does appear that nothing good  happens without the Prince being involved in some way. The impression is that the book is at least partly an advertisement for the Prince that seems to be at odds with the spiritual message of freedom from the ego that he wishes to promote.
The book closes by suggesting that the changes required to cope with the damage being done to the natural world require a fundamental shift in the way we think about ourselves in relationship to the world around us. It suggests that only by living in harmony with the natural world can we save ourselves from catastrophe. It is unlikely to convince many of the Prince's critics but it would make a good investment for anyone looking for a whirlwind guide to 2000 years of philosophy and spiritual insights.

Paul German

Natural Environment White Paper comments. No 8 URGENT

Happy new year everyone!  Take your eye off the ball for a moment and new demands appear out of nowhere.

I was updating my contribution to our local community web site and that took me to the SWT website set up to deal with the recent DEFRA consultation. Having sent off my comments I relaxed and was  taken aback to see that we are now being invited to participate in " grassroots" discussion on the new paper.  Deadline 31st Jan.  I hope our local group can contribute some thoughts. If you want to join us let us know.

Here is an extract from the DEFRA web page taken today. Hope the links work.

Grass roots engagement

We want all interested parties to have a say in shaping the development of the White Paper.
To do this we encourage organisations who already have a relationship with local groups, societies, consumers or individuals, to engage them. For example, NGOs who have local groups or large memberships, civil society organisations who are in touch with local civic groups, and any businesses who wish to engage their consumers on White Paper issues.
Organisations such as these may wish to disseminate the discussion document electronically to encourage grass-roots responses back to their national organisation or direct to with the subject heading “Grass roots engagement”.
We have now published some resources to help your organisation facilitate grassroots engagement.  You will find attached a Guide for Facilitators, a Briefing Note for Participants, and a Feedback Form.  The deadline for returning the feedback forms from any grassroots engagement is 31 January 2011.


The White Paper on the natural environment will be a bold and ambitious statement outlining the government’s vision for the natural environment, backed up with practical action to deliver that ambition. It represents an opportunity to change the way we think about and manage the natural environment, seeing it as a system and valuing the services it gives us.
We have made significant progress in tackling environmental degradation in the past 20 years, significantly reducing levels of environmental pollution in our air and water and providing protection for our most precious wildlife sites.
However, changing and increasing pressures on our environment continue to cause degradation (which in turn has social and economic impacts) and managing these pressures is becoming more challenging.
A more systematic, strategic approach is needed that brings together a wider range of players, provides new options to tackle these challenges efficiently and effectively. This requires, and will encourage, a wider understanding of the value of the natural environment to society and the economy.
In order to achieve this, the process of developing the White Paper will be accompanied by a wide-ranging process of stakeholder engagement. This Big Society approach to policy development will allow individuals and communities to contribute innovative ideas on how their local environment can be protected and enhanced.

Panel of environmental experts
Richard Benyon has established a panel of environmental experts to advise him in the development of the White Paper.
Further information
If you require more information on the Natural Environment White Paper, please contact the Natural Environment White Paper team at: