Look around the world and the effects of climate change are there for all to see.
Glaciers are on the retreat in the Rockies, Andes, Alps and Himalayas. The Greenland ice-sheet is shrinking by as much as 60 cubic miles a year. And the area covered by Arctic sea ice at the end of this summer was the fourth lowest on record.
In a warmer world snow and ice is turning to slush. Average global temperature is now one degree Celsius higher than it was in 1880.
Before the industrial revolution, levels in the atmosphere were around 280 parts per million. Now they’ve shot through 400. That’s the highest they’ve been in at least three million years.
And the overwhelming majority of scientists believe it’s human activity that is to blame.
Natural variation in the climate and changes in the activity of the sun simply cannot account for the rise in carbon dioxide or global temperature.
So is Prince Charles right to say “nature’s bank is going bust”?
Well certainly ecosystems are under pressure. On the Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures is becoming more common.
In the Arctic polar bear numbers are dwindling because of the disappearing sea ice.
And humans are feeling the effects of climate change too. This year Vanuatu was hit by the most powerful cyclone ever recorded in the South Pacific. California is suffering its worst drought in several centuries.
And even in the UK, where we are blessed with a comparatively benign climate, winter floods have become more common.
Around the world climate change is making wild weather more likely and more extreme.
The majority of scientists agree that two degrees is the safe limit for global warming. And that’s the target the UN climate change meeting in Paris is aiming for.
So far carbon reduction pledges made by nearly 150 countries ahead of the conference will limit future global temperature rise to 2.7 degrees if they are enforced. That’s better than the five degree rise predicted if we carry on as we are.
But the sea level would still rise by more than a metre. Corn and wheat yields would drop by around a quarter. And heatwaves would be the norm for European summers. Much more needs to be done to stabilise the climate.
By the end of the century the world will have to be using 100% carbon-free energy. And some way will need to be found of sucking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
Nature’s bank – as Prince Charles calls it – isn’t yet bust, but it’s heavily in debt. It needs world leaders to agree an environmental bailout.