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.