"We are in a race against time," former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night, in an interview with actor Harrison Ford.
"We still live in a state of denial," Clinton suggested, regarding the future impacts of climate change. "We see it, we experience it, but we have a great deal of difficulty in summoning the political will ... to address it."
Ford interviewed Clinton on challenges ranging from climate change to poaching as part of Conservation International's annual New York Gala Dinner.
Clinton focused specifically on small Pacific Island nations whose existences, she said, "are truly at stake."
At the Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands last August, she announced aid for programs focused on sustainable economic development and climate change adaptation.
Many island nations are already being forced to adapt to the effects of a changing environment. Earlier this year, Kiribati President Anote Tong told The Huffington Post that unprecedented coastal erosion is forcing some of his island nation communities to relocate, and declared that the United States should "not be so scared to talk about climate change."
Recent research confirmed that virtually all scientists agree that humans are contributing to climate change through actions such as the burning of fossil fuels.
On Wednesday, Clinton also spoke out against wildlife poaching. "We have a wildlife trafficking, poaching, murdering crisis," she said.
Beyond endangered species concerns, "Think about ungoverned space that is dominated by criminal and terrorist elements," Clinton warned, "murdering park ranchers and local people who try to prevent them from killing large numbers of animals, and think about what that means to our own security."
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Clinton cited an incident earlier this month in the Central African Republic, where armed poachers killed at least 26 elephants at a protected sanctuary.
The country has been plagued by violence recently, and rebels ousted the president earlier this year.
Clinton pushed for conservation groups to help nations protect wildlife and their habitats, while also encouraging tougher ivory penalties in the U.S.