Climate Change Will Bring ‘Collapse Of Our Civilization’ And Mass Extinctions, David Attenborough Warns The UN

The sun setting in front of factories.
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Naturalist David Attenborough has a stark warning for the U.N. — address climate change immediately or risk the complete collapse of civilization.

The famed scientist spoke to the U.N. climate change summit in Poland, where world leaders are discussing ways to turn the 2015 Paris Climate Accord into more concrete actions to eliminate carbon emissions. As the Guardian reported, Attenborough described climate change as the greatest threat ever to face humanity.

“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 civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Attenborough told members that time is running out and that world leaders must act now, and called on people to use the U.N.’s ActNow chatbot to learn how they can take personal action against climate change.

Attenborough’s warning came amid criticism of world leaders for failing to take decisive actions to prevent climate change, and for the U.N. itself in its treatment of climate change. As Gizmodo noted, the conference in Poland is sponsored by coal companies and the Polish government “decided to deck the halls of its exhibition center with piles of coal in a move that is beyond parody.”

But Attenborough is not alone in trying to push for more sweeping measures to address climate change. The World Bank on Monday announced that it would be splitting a $100 billion climate change investment between projects that cut carbon emissions and measures to protect people from the effects of climate change, like flooding and storms.

“We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation with its consequences,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the CEO of the World Bank (via the Guardian).

The report noted that the vast majority of funding for climate change has gone to addressing its effects rather than prevention, and the World Bank’s investment is seen as an important step in leading efforts to change that.

“We are already seeing the devastating impact of climate change,” Georgieva told the Guardian. “We strongly believe that action ought to go both on mitigation and on adaptation.”

Others have warned that the rise in nationalism could harm efforts to address climate change, with UN secretary general António Guterres saying these movements could ruin the political will to work together in addressing the critical problem.