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Two days after joining 400,000 environmental activists marching on the streets of New York on Sunday September 21, actor Leonardo DiCaprio spoke at the city’s UN climate summit.

“As an actor I pretend for a living,” DiCaprio told the assembly. “I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in that same way – as if it were a fiction, as if pretending climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away. But I think we all know better than that now.”

With climate and extreme weather events occurring so frequently nowadays, DiCaprio says this is evidence that accelerated climate change is here now.

“Droughts are intensifying, our oceans are acidifying with methane plumes rising up from the ocean floor, we are seeing extreme weather events and the west Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melting at unprecedented rates decades ahead of scientific projections.”

He claims that, besides governments, industry and the scientific community, even the America military admit that climate change is happening and is a security threat. Beyond changing light bulbs or driving hybrid cars, he says governments and industries around the world need to take decisive and large scale action, including eliminating subsidies for oil, coal and gas companies and putting a price tag on carbon emissions.

“We need to end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given in the name of a free market economy,” he says. “They do not deserve our tax dollars, they deserve our scrutiny, for the economy itself will die if our ecosystems collapse. Clean air and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. Solving this crisis is not a question of politics, it is a question of our own survival.”

With a plea for the UN body to be courageous and honest about what actions to take, DiCaprio also had this warning: “You can either make history or be vilified by it.”

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