October 28, 2010

Harrison Ford Urges Nations To Protect Our Planet

Screen sensation Harrison Ford, who has battled everything from stormtroopers to Nazis to save the world from imminent peril, is now taking the fight to the real world; the fight for the future of the planet.

"What is at stake is the ability of nature to provide services to the human community that we can't afford to do for ourselves," Ford told reporters.

Ford, 68, was speaking in Nagoya, Japan where he is urging the 193 nations of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to spend their 10-day conference to find ways to protect vast areas of the planet's surface.

"Intact ecosystems provide us with fresh water, clean air, help produce healthy soils, are the source of genetic material from which to derive pharmaceuticals and regenerate our food supply," said Ford.

"These are all the free services of nature," but they are all under threat from environmental degradation and "bold and decisive" action must be taken now, he added.

"One of our missions is to create a sense of urgency, help people understand that... just because they don't see it in their own lives, the effects are everywhere," he said. "Where it registers in everyone's life is in the economic impact; higher costs of food, depletion of fish stocks etc."

"The urgency can't be overemphasized... We are at a tipping point," the AFP news agency quoted Ford as saying.

One of Hollywood's highest grossing actors, Ford insisted that he had no real desires to be "a celebrity spokesman for anything." Although, he had his chest waxed two years ago in a stunt to publicize tropical deforestation, and he has sat on the board of the campaign group Conservation International for 20 years.

The organization states that 25 percent of the world's land surface and 15 percent of its oceans need to be protected to effectively preserve biodiversity and combat global warming, up from the current 13 percent and less than one percent respectively.

"That's why our fishery is in such a poor shape -- 70 to 80 percent of the fish that we eat are in danger of disappearing or close to extinction," warned Ford.

As of Wednesday, the negotiators in Nagoya could not reach an agreement on the issue.

A proposed compromise for 20 percent for land and 10 percent for oceans was rejected earlier this week by several UN members, including China and India.

Ford says a global agreement is essential. "We all make small efforts in our lives and individual efforts do count but we have to really effect a change of scale that really is only possible through international engagements."

He had hoped the US would soon ratify the CBD. It has yet to do so, saying it has so far not been politically "necessary."

"There are many many small victories, positive effects. Certainly we have encouraged the business community to behave more responsibly, we have educated them to the fact that consumer base now holds them responsible for their behavior," he said.

But we still need to do more, Ford argued.

He has dismissed the idea that Hollywood could play a role.

While Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth "works very well," he said, "movies are there for the entertainment."

"Certainly we can engage people emotionally, but the solutions to the environmental issues are so much more complicated," he said. "We want people to recognize that solutions are complicated and specific. I am just not sure that the profit making movie business is the right place to deal with these issues."


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