We face the greatest moral crisis of our time, warns Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford praised the UAE for its efforts to preserve mangroves on its coast. (World Government Summit/Screen grab)
Updated 12 February 2019

We face the greatest moral crisis of our time, warns Harrison Ford

  • Hollywood star makes a jibe at President Trump saying climate change is something that should be left to the experts
  • Ford questioned the environmental legacy that was being left for the next generation

DUBAI: Now, more than ever, the world needs to protect nature as humans are faced with the “greatest moral crisis of our time,” warned actor and philanthropist Harrison Ford on Tuesday.

In a moving and passionate speech, Ford warned a packed hall during the third day of World Government Summit in Dubai that “all of us, whether rich or poor, powerful or powerless, will suffer the effects of climate change and ecosystem destruction as we’re faced with the greatest moral crisis of our time.”

“The land and the sea are the legacy we will leave to future generations…we must intervene and act before it is too late,” he said, adding that “We need to protect nature because nature does not need people, but people need nature.”

In what was seen as a dig at US President Donald Trump, Ford said climate change was real and should be left to the experts.

The 76-year-old actor, best known for his roles in "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones," stressed the importance of acknowledging the effects of climate change on the world in a speech on the closing day of the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Though never saying Trump's name, he clearly targeted the American president within the opening moments of his remarks.
"Around the world, elements of leadership — including in my own country — to preserve their state and the status quo, deny or denigrate science," Ford said. "They are on the wrong side of history."
Ford, known to be a strong advocate of climate and environmental protection, has given several speeches at large conferences on the dangers of destroying the environment, as well as produced and presented the climate change documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously.”

“More than 3 billion people live on fish and depend on them as a source of livelihood and food, so we have to protect water wealth,” he told the room filled with heads of state, thought leaders, journalists and more from across the world sitting silently, absorbing the warnings.

“Earth's temperature has risen by 40 percent, so you should invest more in science and adopt climate-protecting behaviors,” Ford said, adding that “Strenuous evidence should guide us to develop plans and develop practical strategies to address climate challenges.”

Ford spoke of not only the necessity, but also the beauty of mangroves, small trees that grow on coasts and stabilize coastlines, protect communities from storms, provide critical habitats for many animals, and store vast amounts of carbon.

He praised the UAE for its efforts to preserve the mangroves on its coast.

“75 percent of world’s biggest cities are next to the coastline. As our oceans melt, they will endanger these cities and its population,” he said, before looking at everyone in the hall, saying “When it comes to oceans, covering 71 percemt of the planet, our efforts have been inadequate.”

Speaking before Ford was UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment Thani Al-Zeyoudi, who said “Humanity has reaped countless benefits from oceans for thousands of years, yet we are not doing enough collectively to protect one of our most valuable resources.”

“If not addressed immediately, climate change will lead to the loss of 250,000 lives by 2030,” Al-Zeyoudi warned.


Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

An Afghan man mourns during the funeral of his brother after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and injuring 200 others. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2019

Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

  • Bride’s relatives, members of music band among victims of Daesh attack

KABUL: Mirwais Elmi’s special night soon became a bloodbath after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the hotel hall where his wedding ceremony was taking place, killing more than 63 people and injuring 200 others in Kabul on Sunday. Elmi and his bride, who were in separate areas of the venue, survived the blast. The explosion took place just before dinner was to be served to the nearly 1,000 guests who had gathered in the southwest of the city.
The local Daesh affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack Speaking to a private TV channel on Sunday, a shaken Elmi was unable to describe the carnage that took place.
“I am not a groom today, my family, my friends are all in grief,” Elmi, who is in his early 20s and works as a tailor, said.
He added that he never thought “such an incident would happen during my wedding party.”
As survivors buried victims of the attack, an infant’s milk bottle and an invitation card could be seen near one of the hotel’s walls, badly damaged by the blast.
The attack comes as the US and Taliban close in on a peace deal which would lead to the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the Taliban were ousted. The group immediately distanced themselves from the attack and strongly condemned it.
Elmi’s father-in-law lost 14 members of his family, while another man lost three of his sons, four nephews and five of his aunt’s grandchildren, according to survivor accounts.
“My family and my bride are in shock, they cannot speak. My bride keeps fainting. I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again,” he said. All five members of the wedding’s music band were killed. The groom and bride’s families, like many of those attending the ceremony, belonged to poor families.  
None of the guests were government officials sought by Daesh or other militant groups.

Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely.

Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, Lawmaker

Many of the victims were children and young men. The hotel had no guards and guests were not body searched, according to survivors.
Shi’ite cultural centers and an anti-government protest have all recently come under attack, but Sunday’s wedding blast was the first of its kind, evoking a reaction from President Ashraf Ghani. He blamed Daesh for the incident. “I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred. “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide a platform for terrorists,” he tweeted.
Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, a lawmaker, said the attack exposed the government’s weakness.
“Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely,” he told Arab News.