Prince William has called for the world’s greatest minds to focus on fixing Earth rather than finding new planets to settle, and he’s not intrigued by space tourism.
The heir to the British throne made those remarks during a 30-minute interview with the BBC’s Newscast program that aired on Thursday (Oct. 14), the day after Blue Origin launched “Star Trek” actor William Shatner and three other people to suborbital space. The prince, who is a trained helicopter pilot, also revealed that he would not consider going to space himself.
“I have been up to 65,000 feet (19,000 meters) once in a plane, and that was truly terrifying. That’s high enough,” William told the BBC’s Adam Flemming. “You don’t get weightless, but the sky is black above you and you can see the curve of the Earth.”
The Earthshot Prize, funded by the Royal Foundation, a charity of Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has no smaller ambition than to become the biggest environmental prize in history, Prince William said. The scale of the challenge facing the planet requires the world’s brightest people to turn Earthward for the sake of the entire human species, the prince suggested.
“We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live,” he said. “We have 10 years of critical time when we have to make inroads and find solutions, because past 2030, things will get rapidly worse.”
Despite the prince’s Earth-focused mindset, the Prize’s name is an obvious nod to the famous moonshot, the concerted effort of the American space sector in the 1960s to land a man on the moon by 1970, which was instigated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
“The original genesis of [the Earthshot Prize] is to try and capture the ingenuity, the problem-solving and the ambition of the moonshot, based on JFK’s idea to get a man on the moon and all the technology and the advancements that came out of it,” Prince William said in the interview. “We are trying to galvanize and push the solutions forward.”
The Prize will announce its first set of winners on Monday (Oct. 17) in London, awarding £1 million ($1.37 million) to the best ideas in five categories focused on climate, clean air, waste management, protecting nature and reviving oceans.