David Attenborough: Extinction of the natural world is ‘on the horizon’

Attenborough told the audience at COP24 that climate change is "our greatest threat in thousands of years."

  • David Attenborough spoke Monday at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP24.
  • The annual summit is designed to help the international community reach agreements on how to curb climate change.
  • The U.S. pulled out of the Paris accord in 2017 and President Donald Trump will not attend the summit, though reports suggest he's sending energy and climate advisor Wells Griffith to hold a side event promoting fossil fuels.

Civilizations will collapse and much of the natural world will go extinct unless the world takes action on climate change, David Attenborough said Monday at the United Nations summit on climate change in Poland.

"Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change," he said. "If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."

Attenborough was speaking at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP24. The annual summit takes places this year from December 2 to 14, and it's aim is to help signatories of the Paris climate accord reach agreements on how to cut global emissions and curb climate change.

"This is the most important COP since the signing of the agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism," said U.N. Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad.

Attenborough, a natural historian who's perhaps best known for presenting the BBC's nature documentary series 'Life', called for urgent action.

"The world's people have spoken," he said. "Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands."

COP24 occurs in the wake of a sobering U.N. report from October that warned the atmosphere could warm by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial temperatures by 2040, a rise that would bring catastrophic consequences. Last week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that the average global temperature for 2018 was on track to be the fourth highest on record.

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

Sir David Attenborough.

The Climate Action ActNow.bot

Attenborough recommended that everyone have a chat with the U.N.'s ActNow bot, a program designed to help people make small but significant lifestyle changes to help reduce their environmental footprints.

"If many people take actions that will reduce emissions, it will add up," reads the U.N. website. "And it will send a message to leaders, in government and the private sector, that people want climate action, and are willing to take it."

You can check out the ActNow bot here.

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