Highly respected natural historian, Sir David Attenborough, has issued a dire warning on the need to take urgent action over climate change.

If we don’t do it now “the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Speaking at the UN’s climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, earlier today, he warned of the impending threats global warming poses to the natural world.

Sir David accused older generation of “messing up the planet” and letting down younger generations who are “angry” about the situation.

“I have done my best to speak the truth as I see it, but (young people) … know that the world is warming, and science is making it perfectly clear, and they know who is responsible – and that’s me and my predecessors, and going back even further than that,” the 92-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Poland.

He represented the general public at the conference about a week after he launched The People’s Seat, a UN initiative to invite ordinary populations to get involved with the climate summit.

In the days leading up to the talks, Attenborough encouraged social media users to share their comments and questions using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat, to give users a platform to have their say alongside world leaders at the COP24.

He showcased some of these submissions during his summit address.

WFL says: It’s time to listen, time to act

New Zealand’s political leaders must take stock.

So far we’ve heard precious little about the need to introduce urgent and radical reforms that seriously face up to the fact that climate change is upon us and that the time for action is now.

Scientists have made it abundantly clear that failing to do this will create dire consequences by 2020.

Despite these consistent, insistent and alarming reports however our local leaders continue to distract themselves from the real issues.

For instance, we might all be concerned about the price of petrol but what good is it if, by establishing an investigating committee, we actually do prove we’re being “ripped off” by the petrol companies.

If we’re to examine the real consequences here our politicians must face up to the fact that New Zealand needs to get rid of petrol power altogether, that we must create incentives (eg by taxing the gas guzzlers) to buy electric vehicles and then there’s the problem of health – our favourite subject.

If political leaders are looking to find money to incentivise the purchase of electric vehicles or to help dairy farmers exit the industry so we can reduce greenhouse gases and improve the quality of our waterways, they need to look at health. Or, more precisely, our lack of it.

Currently we pour millions upon millions of dollars into subsidised health care that does nothing more than enable thousands of New Zealanders to die from easily treatable lifestyle diseases.

If money were rechannelled to support the kind of programmes being developed by people like doctors Nick Wright (Gisborne) and Luke Wilson (Wellington) the financial return to Government coffers would be considerable.

But are our leaders really listening? Are they really aware that scientists have moved from discussing long term potential consequences of climate change to what its now near-term impact will actually be?

Unfortunately, we think not. If they were, people like Dr Mike Joy, Nick Wright and many others would be getting a sound hearing in the corridors of power.

Our leaders need a whole new approach. Get the stock right away from the stream or get out of farming. Wage war on known lifestyle illnesses like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Whole Food Living is about health, but we also maintain a close connection to matters of environment. Afterall, what would be the point of improving your health if, as Sir David Attenborough so succinctly points out, we have little left to live for.

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