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Leading environmentalist David Attenborough has issued a stark warning about the threat of climate change to global security and has called for "unparalleled" cooperation between countries.
Speaking to the UN Security Council, Attenborough told world leaders that they had an "awesome responsibility" to tackle climate change or risk the "disintegration" of civilization.
The broadcaster made its comments via video link during Tuesday's session chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first time a British Prime Minister led the meeting since 1992.
In a heartfelt appeal to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, he said: “We know that the security of the entire world depends on your decisions.
“You hold the key to preventing a repeat of that worldwide catasrophe – the Great War – that occurred during my childhood and changed an entire generation.
& # 39; And that awesome responsibility, I know well, still rests with you. But may I argue that today there are threats to security of a new and unprecedented kind.
He added, “These threats don't divide us, they are threats that should unite us no matter what part of the world we come from.
"Because they face all of us."
The 94-year-old conservationist said rising global temperatures, looting of the ocean and changing weather patterns "would certainly become a reality," while others could "destroy entire cities and societies" for the next generation unless urgent action is being undertaken.
“If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security,” he said.
"Food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature, and ocean food chains. And when the natural world can no longer meet our most basic needs, much of the rest of civilization will quickly collapse.
“Make no mistake, climate change is the greatest security threat modern humans have ever faced.
& # 39; I do not envy you the responsibility this places on you and your governments.
💬 & # 39; Through global cooperation, we can achieve much more than just tackle climate change. We can finally create a stable, healthy world & # 39;
– Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) February 23, 2021
“We have left the stable and safe climate period in which our civilizations originated.
"There is no going back. Whatever we do now, it is too late to avoid climate change, and the poorest and most vulnerable, those with the least security will certainly suffer."
But Attenborough said that while it was impossible to return to the "stable, benign" climate that had allowed life on Earth to flourish, there was "cause for hope" if world governments acted quickly.
He claimed that the forthcoming UN climate conference, COP-26, to be held in Glasgow later this year, was "our last chance to make the necessary step-by-step change".
Ahead of the session, Boris Johnson said failure to address climate change could lead to further insecurity and exacerbation of conflict.
"From the communities uprooted by extreme weather and famine, to warlords benefiting from the struggle for resources – a warming planet is creating uncertainty," he said.
“Unlike much of the Security Council's work, we know exactly how to do this. By helping fragile countries adapt to climate change and reduce global emissions to zero, we will not only reduce abundant biodiversity. of our planet, but also prosperity and security. "