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'The Problem Is Systemic': Over 200 Artists and Scientists Dare World to Envision a Different Post-Covid Future

"Adjustments are not enough."

The letter calls for radical change.

The letter calls for radical change. (Image: Le Monde)

Over 200 artists and scientists issued a demand to world leaders that the planet's leaders not attempt to "go back to normal" after the coronavirus pandemic passes, calling for substantive and swift action to address the climate crisis, consumerism, and economic inequality in the wake of the crisis. 

"Adjustments are not enough," the group says in a letter published Wednesday in France's Le Monde newspaper. "The problem is systemic."

The letter, written by actress Juliette Binoche and astrophysicist Aurélien Barrau, calls for a "radical transformation" in how the world works and to address the oncoming climate crisis with the urgency it deserves. The letter was signed by artists and activists like Javier Bardem, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Barbra Streisand, Joaquin Phoenix, and Sting as well as scientists and economists like Carlo Rovelli, Muhammad Yunus, and Xuan Thuan Trinh.

As the letter explains:

The ongoing ecological catastrophe is a meta-crisis: the massive extinction of life on Earth is no longer in doubt, and all indicators point to a direct existential threat. Unlike a pandemic, however severe, a global ecological collapse will have immeasurable consequences.

"Pollution, climate change, and the destruction of our remaining natural zones has brought the world to a breaking point," says the letter.

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Read the letter in full and the list of signatories below:

Please, let’s not go back to normal

The Covid-19 pandemic is a tragedy. This crisis is, however, inviting us to examine what is essential. And what we see is simple: adjustments are not enough. The problem is systemic.

The ongoing ecological catastrophe is a meta-crisis: the massive extinction of life on Earth is no longer in doubt, and all indicators point to a direct existential threat. Unlike a pandemic, however severe, a global ecological collapse will have immeasurable consequences.

We therefore solemnly call upon leaders—and all of us as citizens—to leave behind the unsustainable logic that still prevails and to undertake a profound overhaul of our goals, values, and economies.

The pursuit of consumerism and an obsession with productivity have led us to deny the value of life itself: that of plants, that of animals, and that of a great number of human beings. Pollution, climate change, and the destruction of our remaining natural zones has brought the world to a breaking point.

For these reasons, along with the urgency of renewing with a politics of social equity, we believe it is unthinkable to go back to normal. The radical transformation we need—at all levels—demands boldness and courage. It will not take place without a massive and determined commitment. We must act now. It is as much a matter of survival as of dignity and coherence.

Lynsey Addario, grand reporter ; Isabelle Adjani, actress ; Roberto Alagna, opera singer ; Pedro Almodovar, film director ; Santiago Amigorena, writer ; Angèle, singer ; Adria Arjona, actress; Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer, film director; Ariane Ascaride, actress ; Olivier Assayas, film director ; Josiane Balasko, actress ; Jeanne Balibar, actress ; Bang Hai Ja, painter; Javier Bardem, actor ; Aurélien Barrau, astrophysicist, honorary member of the Institut universitaire de France ; Mikhail Baryshnikov, dancer, choreographer ; Nathalie Baye, actress ; Emmanuelle Béart, actress ; Jean Bellorini, theater director ; Monica Bellucci, actress ; Alain Benoit, physicist, Académie des sciences ; Charles Berling, actor ; Juliette Binoche, actress ; Benjamin Biolay, singer ; Dominique Blanc, actress ; Cate Blanchett, actress ; Gilles Bœuf, former president of the National Museum of Natural History ; Valérie Bonneton, actress ; Aurelien Bory, theater director ; Miguel Bosé, actor, singer ; Stéphane Braunschweig, theater director ; Stéphane Brizé, filmdirector ; Irina Brook, theater director ; Peter Brook, theater director ; Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, actress, film director ; Khatia Buniatishvili, pianist ; Florence Burgat, former president of the National Museum of Natural History; Guillaume Canet, actor, film director ; Anne Carson, poet, writer, Academy of Arts and Sciences ; Michel Cassé, astrophysicist ; Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; François Civil, actor ; François Cluzet, actor ; Isabel Coixet, film director ; Gregory Colbert, photographer, film director ; Paolo Conte, singer ; Marion Cotillard, actress ; Camille Cottin, actress ; Penélope Cruz, actress ; Alfonso Cuaron, film director ; Willem Dafoe, actor ; Béatrice Dalle, actress ; Alain Damasio, writer ; Ricardo Darin, actor ; Cécile de France, actress ; Robert De Niro, actor ; Annick de Souzenelle, writer ; Johann Deisenhofer, biochemist, Nobel Prize in chemistry ; Kate del Castillo, actress ; Miguel Delibes Castro, biologist, Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences ; Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, theater director ; Claire Denis, film director ; Philippe Descola, anthropologist, CNRS gold medal ; Virginie Despentes, writer ; Alexandre Desplat, musicwriter ; Arnaud Desplechin, film director ; Natalie Dessay, opera singer ; Cyril Dion, writer, film director ; Hervé Dole, astrophysicist, honorary member of the Institut universitaire de France ; Adam Driver, actor ; Jacques Dubochet, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Diane Dufresne, singer ; Thomas Dutronc, singer ; Lars Eidinger, actor ; Olafur Eliasson, plastic artist, sculptor ; Marianne Faithfull, singer ; Pierre Fayet, member of the Academy of Sciences ; Abel Ferrara, film director ; Albert Fert, Physic’s Nobel Prize ; Ralph Fiennes, actor ; Edmond Fischer, biochemist, Nobel Prize in medicine ; Jane Fonda, actress ; Joachim Frank, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, actor ; Marie-Agnès Gillot, prima ballerina ; Amos Gitaï, film director ; Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu, film director ; Timothy Gowers, Fields Mathematics Medal ; Eva Green, actress ; Sylvie Guillem, prima ballerina ; Ben Hardy, actor ; Serge Haroche, Physic’s Nobel Prize ; Dudley R. Herschbach, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Prize in Chemistry  ; Rob Hopkins, founder of cities in transition ; Nicolas Hulot, honorary president of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation for Nature and Man ; Imany, singer ; Jeremy Irons, actor ; Agnès Jaoui, actor, film director ; Jim Jarmusch, film director ; Vaughan Jones, Fields Mathematics Medal ; Spike Jonze, film director ; Camélia Jordana, singer ; Jean Jouzel, climatologist, Vetlesen Prize ; Anish Kapoor, sculptor, painter ; Naomi Kawase, film director ; Sandrine Kiberlain, actress ; Angélique Kidjo, singer ; Naomi Klein, writer ; Brian Kobilka, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Hirokazu Kore-eda, film director ; Panos Koutras, film director ; Antjie Krog, poetess ; La Grande Sophie, singer ; Ludovic Lagarde, theater director; Mélanie Laurent, actress ; Bernard Lavilliers, singer ; Yvon Le Maho, ecophysiologist, member of the French Academy of Sciences ; Roland Lehoucq, astrophysicist ; Gilles Lellouche, actor, film director ; Christian Louboutin, designer ; Roderick MacKinnon, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Madonna, singer ; Macha Makeïeff, theater director ; Claude Makélélé, soccer player ; Ald Al Malik, rap artist ; Rooney Mara, actress ; Ricky Martin, singer ; Carmen Maura, actress ; Michel Mayor, Physic’s Nobel Prize  ; Médine, rap artist ; Melody Gardot, singer ; Arturo Menchaca Rocha, physicist, former president of the Mexican Academy of Sciences ; Raoni Metuktire, Raoni Indian Chief ; Julianne Moore, actress ; Wajdi Mouawad, theater director, writer ; Gérard Mouroux, Physic’s Nobel Prize ; Nana Mouskouri, singer ; Yael Naim, singer ; Jean-Luc Nancy, philosopher ; Guillaume Néry, freediving world champion ; Pierre Niney, actor ; Michaël Ondaatje, writer ; Thomas Ostermeier, theater director ; Rithy Panh, film director ; Vanessa Paradis, singer, actress ; James Peebles, Physic’s Nobel Prize  ; Corine Pelluchon, philosopher ; Joaquin Phoenix, actor ; Pomme, singer ; Iggy Pop, singer; Olivier Py, theater director ; Radu Mihaileanu, film director ; Susheela Raman, singer ; Edgar Ramirez, actor ; Charlotte Rampling, actress ; Raphaël, singer ; Eric Reinhardt, writer ; Residente, singer; Jean-Michel Ribes, film director ; Matthieu Ricard, buddhist monk ; Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize in Medicine ; Isabella Rossellini, actress ; Cecilia Roth, actress ; Carlo Rovelli, physicist, honorary member of the Institut universitaire de France ; Paolo Roversi, photographer ; Ludivine Sagnier, actress ; Shaka Ponk (Sam et Frah), singers ; Vandana Shiva, philosopher, writer ; Abderrahmane Sissako, film director ; Gustaf Skarsgard, actor ; Sorrentino Paolo, film director; Sabrina Speich,oceanographer, Albert Defant medal ; Sting, singer ; James Fraser Stoddart, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Barbra Streisand, singer, actress, film director ; Malgorzata Szumowska, film director ; Béla Tarr, film director; Bertrand Tavernier, film director ; Alexandre Tharaud, pianist ; James Thierré, theater director, dancer; Mélanie Thierry, actress ; Tran Anh Hung, film director ; Jean-Louis Trintignant, actor ; Karin Viard, actress ; Rufus Wainwright, singer ; Lulu Wang, film director ; Paul Watson, Navigator, writer ; Wim Wenders, film director ; Stanley Whittingham, Nobel Prize in Chemistry ; Sonia Wieder-Atherton, violoncellist ; Frank Wilczek, Physic’s Nobel Prize ; Olivia Wilde, actress ; Christophe Willem, singer ; Bob Wilson, theater director; Lambert Wilson, actor ; David Wineland, Physic’s Nobel Prize ; Xuan Thuan Trinh, astrophysicist ; Muhammad Yunus, economist, Nobel Peace Prize ; Zazie, singer.

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