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Prince Charles says climate change ‘terrifying’

Prince Charles says he believes the pace of climate change is terrifying.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prince Charles says he believes the pace of climate change is terrifying and people are becoming too dependent on technology.

In a rare TV interview ahead of his official tour of the United States next week, Charles expressed concern that economic progress is “upsetting the whole balance of nature.”

“You know, if you look at the latest figures on climate change and global warming ... they’re terrifying, terrifying,” Charles told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in the interview to be aired Sunday.

The prince is a keen environmentalist, but his office has declined to say whether Charles will raise the issue of climate change when he dines with President Bush at the White House this week.

Clarence House said it would not be appropriate to comment on a private dinner.

In the past, Bush has questioned the existence of global warming. The United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, saying it would harm the economy.

Charles, who will be visiting with his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, also said he was worried about the importance of technology in modern life.

“If you make everything over efficient, you suck out, it seems to me, every last drop of what, up to now, has been known as culture,” Charles said in the interview, which was recorded last month in Poundbury, England.

“We are not the technology. It should be our ... slave, the technology. But it’s rapidly becoming our master in many areas, I think,” he said.

Charles will travel to the United States on Tuesday for his first official tour of the country since 1994, although he has made a number of private visits since then. He last visited the United States on June 11, 2004, for the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan.

Memorial garden in NYC
During the tour, Charles and Camilla will inaugurate a new memorial garden in New York for the British victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. They will also travel to Washington for their lunch and dinner with President Bush and Mrs. Bush. During the final leg of the tour, Charles and Camilla will meet homeless people in San Francisco.

In previously released excerpts of the CBS interview, Charles said he was concerned about being seen as irrelevant.

“The most important thing is to be relevant ... It isn’t easy, as you can imagine ... because if you say anything, people will say, ’It’s all right for you to say that.’ It’s very easy to just dismiss anything I say. ... It’s difficult,” the heir to the British throne said.

Charles says his duty is “worrying about this country and its inhabitants.”

He adds: “I find myself born into this particular position. I am determined to make the most of it.”

Charles has won respect for the time he devotes to The Prince’s Trust, which has helped more than 35,000 disadvantaged young people start their own businesses and provided job training to thousands more each year.

He hopes efforts like these are valued, telling interviewer Steve Kroft lightheartedly: “I only hope that when I’m dead and gone, they might appreciate it a little bit more.”