Science and spiritualism must work together if the Earth is to avoid environmental disaster, the Prince of Wales warned in Oxford today.

He said focusing on your “soul” and nature is as important as relying on science to find the solutions to global warming.

The Prince made his comments while on a visit to the city to mark the 25th anniversary of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, where he has been patron since 1993.

His lecture, called Islam and the Environment, was delivered to an estimated 1,000 people at the Sheldonian Theatre, in Broad Street.

The Prince said: “When we hear talk of an environmental crisis or even of a financial crisis, I would suggest that this is actually describing the outward con-sequences of a deeper, inner crisis of the soul.

“It is a crisis in our relationship with, and perception of, nature, and is born of Western culture being dominated for at least 200 years by a mechanistic and reductionist approach to our scientific understanding of the world around us.

“I would like you to consider very carefully whether a big part of the solution to all of our worldwide crises does not lie simply in more and better technology, but in the recovery of the soul to the mainstream of our thinking.

“Our science and technology cannot do this. Only sacred traditions have the capacity to help this.”

Earlier the Prince was given a tour of the centre’s new premises in Marston Road, which are currently under development, by its founder director, Dr Farhan Nizami.

Although independent, the centre is linked to Oxford University.

The Prince told the audience the West could learn from the Islamic approach to nature.

He said: “The Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasuries of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity.

“It is both Islam’s noble heritage and a priceless gift to the world.

“And yet, so often, that wisdom is now obscured by the dominant drive towards Western materialism – the feeling that to be truly modern you have to ape the West.”

The audience, which included the Lord Mayor of Oxford, John Goddard, Muslim community leaders and students, gave the Prince a standing ovation after his one-hour lecture.

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Prof Andrew Hamilton, gave the vote of thanks.

He said: “It has been an immense pleasure to welcome you back to the University of Oxford to lecture on this subject.

“This is a university of many nationalities, particularly in its teaching and research staff, and postgraduate students, and also one of great international reach.”