Currently in Brazil on a South American tour, Britain's Prince Charles warned on Thursday, March 12, that mankind has 100 months or less to save the planet from a climate-caused disaster.
The Prince of Wales told some 150 business leaders in Rio de Janeiro, in southeastern Brazil, that "the best projections tell us that we have less than 100 months to alter our behavior before we risk catastrophic climate change and the unimaginable horrors that this would bring."
"Any difficulties which the world faces today will be nothing compared to the full effects which global warming will have on the worldwide economy," he said. "It will result in vast movements of people escaping either flooding or droughts, in uncertain production of foods and lack of water and, of course, increasing social instability and potential conflict."
"It will affect the well-being of every man, woman and child on our planet," the Prince added, calling for urgent steps to curb deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. Failure to adequately tackle the causes of the problem is "gambling away our future" he pointed out.
The heir to the British throne said the global economic crisis is the worst in generations, and said sustainable development was the best and perhaps only way to ensure future economic growth.
"Doesn't the global crisis in which we find ourselves tell us that sustainable development will be, indeed can only be, the primary driver of economic and industrial development in the future?"
"As the world's economy heads further into recession, it would be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture – to commit the sin, as we say in English, and if you would pardon the terrible pun, of 'not seeing the wood for the trees'.
On Wednesday Prince Charles met in Brazilian capital Brasília with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and the presidents of the Senate and the lower house Chamber of Deputies.
He is also scheduled to visit the Amazon jungle cities of Manaus and Santarém before heading to Ecuador on Sunday.
The danger posed by global warming has been described as the greatest threat facing mankind by Prince Charles who stated in a speech in Chile earlier this week that tackling the environmental threat should have a higher priority than fighting poverty.
Lula and the prince are also believed to have discussed their country's respective bids for major sporting events in the next decade. Brazil is hoping to host the 2016 Olympic Games while England is putting itself forward to stage the football World Cup in 2018.
Charles has been a long-term campaigner in the fight against climate change and set up his Rainforests Project group in 2007 to find a solution to save the world's threatened forests and help tackle global warming.
Brazil is home to the Amazon – the world's largest rainforest – and is a key partner in Britain's efforts to get an agreement between nations at a major climate summit being staged in Copenhagen in December.
Last summer President Lula launched a global fund to protect the rainforest and combat climate change with officials hoping to raise US$ 21 billion by 2021.
Promoting low-carbon, high-growth economies in South America is also a major concern for the British Government which has asked the Prince to visit South America.
Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are touring South America and have already visited Chile. They will spend four days in Brazil then travel to Ecuador and its Galapagos Island.