Growth and Sustainability: Highgrove Harmony

With many others, I think that HRH Prince Charles Prince of Wales is out of fashion. Unlike many others, I believe that you have to be out of fashion to be really fashionable; you can't be a trend-setter by slavishly imitating others. His new book is a trend-setting experience that goes counter to actual political trends. 

Harmony: A New Way Of Looking At Our World was written by HRH Prince Charles Prince of Wales, Tony Juniper, and Ian Skelly and published by Harper Collins. The title is a bit of a joke as there is nothing really new in it. What is new, though, is the way it links a sick sense of entitlement, greed, and the political and financial establishment to nature's destruction. 

The cover of the book banks heavily on the attraction of the Royal person of Prince Charles; that is a marketing decision made by the publishers that should not distract readers from the real content the book has to offer. It might even induce new readers to read a book with real content instead of Royal gossip, who knows. 

While the book is based on facts we encounter time and again, its authors have managed to include some graphic figures that set you thinking all on their own. We know that food sold in Britain travels 18 billion miles (29 billion km) every year. We all know that one third of food bought in Britain ends up in the bin; that's 6 billion miles of travel for the bin. Or how about the fact that the number of self inflicted obese in the self-appointed first world meanwhile outnumber 800 million malnourished in so called developing countries? 

The book contains quaint stories about Highgrove and the way it is ecologically run. While I appreciate the fact that there are very happy cows there, if you look at the prices of Duchy products you will also count the cost. The authors might think that this is the way to go but they fail to do the math on it. 

What makes the book interesting and readable is Prince Charles' call for sustainability over growth. While every politician in the world is currently praying growth like a mantra, Prince Charles and his co-authors show up the link between growth and the destruction of nature. What shows up at the bottom line as gain in multinational companies shows up as a loss in nature in our global accounts.

Shooting the accountants does't seem to be an option, but re-educating the fat cats and money bags in business would be one. Money talks, at least to such entities; money then should be the means to re-educate them to become human beings. If their little set-ups were made to face the real cost of their products, the bottom lines would look vastly different. I like the idea but I appreciate it is a view of Utopia, too. 

The book is neither a tell-all nor a heal-all. It is not a comprehensive view of everything that plays into the problem of growth versus survival. But it is definitely a good starting point to give you ideas what is going wrong in today's world. Harmony is not a new way to look at the world, but it is new within the last 300 years which have been marred by industrialization and so called science promoted by self-proclaimed scientists and experts. In that sense, the book is openly anti-establishment; a word you normally wouldn't associate with Royalty and even less with a future Head of State.