Hollywood actor Harrison Ford has warned that climate change is the "greatest moral crisis of our time" and has called on governments to take action before it is too late.
He issued a rallying cry for the world to come together to combat the problem during a powerful address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.
The American actor, who is famous for leading roles in Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, also said that governments across the world, including his own, were turning their backs on the dire need to tackle climate change, in order to preserve their place in the status quo.
Mr Ford made his comments during the session at the summit that was entitled “An Urgent Call to Action on Climate Change”.
The average surface temperature of the planet has risen by almost 1°C since the end of the 19th century, with Nasa experts saying the acceleration has been driven by increased carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions into the atmosphere.
The majority of the warming took place in the past 35 years, with the five hottest years on record taking place since 2010.
“All of us whether rich or poor, powerful or powerless will suffer the effects of climate change and ecosystem destruction,” said Mr Ford, 76.
“We are faced with what I believe is the greatest moral crisis of our time.”
He said that to compound the problem, the people least responsible for climate change would be those that suffer the most.
“They will suffer the greatest consequences,” he said.
“The Earth and the seas are the legacy we leave our children and in 10 years’ time it could be too late.
“What we do today determines our ability to leave a legacy for our countries, communities and families,” he said.
Mr Ford also said the problem was escalating at a rate that would soon be out of the control of the human race.
“Nature doesn’t need people.
“People need nature. This planet is the only home that many of us are ever going to know so let’s work together, roll-up our sleeves and get this thing done.”
The audience were shown a brief video, before Mr Ford took to the stage, with the actor narrating as the ocean and expressing disdain for how the human race had treated nature.
“Humans are the only animal on the planet whose hubris could end up destroying the planet.
“We are not above nature. We are a part of nature and need to develop the political will to save what we have,” he said.
The actor expressed his surprise that the situation has become so stark, with governments failing to work together to find a solution.
“You would think that the world would feel compelled to take meaningful action on climate change.
“Around the world, elements of leadership, including my own country, are denying and denigrating the scientific consensus.
“They are on the wrong side of history. Sound science must guide us and governments need to act to invest in the future.”
The actor said that while a lot of good work had taken place to tackle climate change, it simply was not enough.
“We need to do much, much more,” he said, making specific reference to the oceans which cover more than 71 per cent of the planet.
“Our efforts have been woefully inadequate.”
Mr Ford said that mangroves, which are common in the UAE, were particularly threatened by continued climate change.
“Mangroves capture 10 times more carbon than tropical forests.
“By reducing the destruction of existing mangroves we could reduce the level of global carbon emissions by as much as 6 per cent.”
He said the vast majority of the world’s cities have a vested interest in ensuring that climate change is brought under control.
“Much of the planet’s population is clustered on ocean coastlines.
“75 per cent of the world’s cities are on coastlines, including New York, Los Angeles, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”
He said these cities were in direct danger from climate change.
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“As our oceans warm, sea levels are driven higher and endanger these populations and their economies.
“Island nations will cease to exist. Where will their people go?”
Global weather will become more violent than the world had ever seen unless climate change was checked, said Mr Ford.
“We have actually learnt the oceans are warming 40 per cent faster than anticipated.
“The problems are global and we need to invest more in science and adopt behaviours that will also enable the oceans to better serve us,” he said.
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment, welcomed Mr Ford's stance on ocean conservation.
“It was interesting to hear Harrison Ford tackling this topic, as it is something that not many global platforms are focusing on,” he said.
“It is the work we are doing here in the UAE that triggered the interest of Harrison to come here and work with us as a country.
“The oceans are a central part of our history, and we believe the ocean is the main source of natural resources. It must be preserved for future generations.
“When it comes to the oceans and the adaptation of a changing county, we have planted new mangroves and coral reefs and the results have been amazing.”
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