Prince William on Wednesday suggested that space-obsessed entrepreneurs need to prioritize saving Planet Earth.
“We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet and not trying to find the next place to go and live,” he said in an interview with the BBC.
Although he refrained from naming names, William’s comments came on the same day that William Shatner became the oldest person in history to journey into space onboard a capsule belonging to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Other space tourism ventures launched by billionaires include English business magnate Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Ahead of the inaugural Earthshot Prize ceremony, which will award five recipients $1.37 milllion each for trying to save the planet, William spoke disapprovingly about the current “space race.”
“If we’re not careful, we’re robbing from our children’s future, what we do now, and I think that’s not fair,” said the father-of-three, adding that he wants future generations to experience nature and the outdoors the way he did as a child.
Reflecting on “a rise in climate anxiety” among young people, William shared an anecdote about his own son, Prince George. The young prince had been picking up litter with his classmates each day, causing him to ask his father, “‘Well, we cleaned this, why has it not gone away?'”
That fear is part of what “sold” William on the importance of tackling the climate crisis rather than engaging in space tourism: “[It] really is quite crucial to be focusing on this [planet] rather than giving up and heading out into space to try and think of solutions for the future.”
In sharing why he had “absolutely no interest” in space travel, William discussed his father, Prince Charles and his late grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh’s lifelong efforts to raise awareness about climate change. He said that Charles, who had a “rough ride” trying to sound the alarm, “talked about climate change a lot more, very early on, before anyone else thought it was a topic”.
The winners of the first annual Moonshot Prize will be announced in a ceremony later this month. The finalists were announced on Sept. 17.