'Global cataclysm': 200 scientists and artists sign letter warning of looming disaster

'In a few decades, there will be almost nothing left. Humans and most living species are in a critical situation'

Tom Embury-Dennis
Tuesday 04 September 2018 17:22 BST
World facing first mass extinction since the dinosaurs

Political leaders should take action to avoid the “global cataclysm” facing mankind, according to a letter signed by 200 people, including some of the world's most famous actors, artists and scientists.

Urging them to act “firmly and immediately” in the face of the “greatest challenge in the history of humanity”, the letter penned by actress Juliette Binoche and astrophycist Aurélien Barrau said: “We are living a global cataclysm. Global warming, drastic decrease of living spaces, collapse of biodiversity, pollution of soil, water and air, rapid deforestation: all the indicators are alarming."

Published in French newspaper Le Monde, it added: “At the current rate, in a few decades, there will be almost nothing left. Humans and most living species are in a critical situation.”

A host of Hollywood A-listers, including Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Rampling added their signatures to the letter, along with prominent scientists such as climatologist Jean Jouzel, mathematician Mikhaïl Gromov and physicist Carlo Rovelli.

“Collapse is underway,” the letter said, adding that a sixth mass extinction was taking place at “unprecedented speed”.

However, it said that it was "not too late to avoid the worst."

It added: "We therefore consider that any political action which would not make the fight against this cataclysm its concrete priority… would no longer be credible. We consider that a government that does not rescue what can still be its primary and claimed objective cannot be taken seriously. We propose the choice of politics - far from lobbies - and potentially unpopular measures that will result.

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“It's a question of survival. It cannot, in essence, be considered secondary. Many other fights are legitimate. But if it is lost, none can be led.”

Binoche and Mr Barrau’s call for action came just days after the Nicolas Hulot, France’s environment minister, quit live on air over Emmanuel Macron’s record on green issues. Mr Hulot said he no longer wanted to give the impression “that we’re up to standard on these issues and so I am deciding to quit the government”.

In an emotional address, the long-time environmentalist said his tenure had been an “accumulation of disappointments”. He also claimed he felt “all alone” in pushing for environmental priorities in government.

Experts have warned human are indeed ushering in the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.

Writing in a special edition of the journal Nature last year, scientists warned that mammals, birds and amphibians are currently becoming extinct at rates comparable to the previous five mass extinctions when “cataclysmic forces” – such as massive meteorite strikes and supervolcano explosions – wiped out vast swathes of life, including the dinosaurs.

Full list of signatories:

Isabelle Adjani, actress; Laure Adler, journalist; Pedro Almodovar, filmmaker; Laurie Anderson, artist; Charles Aznavour, singer; Santiago Amigorena, writer; Pierre Arditi, actor; Niels Arestrup, actor; Ariane Ascaride, actress; Olivier Assayas, filmmaker; Yvan Attal, actor, filmmaker; Josiane Balasko, actress; Aurélien Barrau, astrophysicist (Institut universitaire de France); Nathalie Baye, actress; Emmanuelle Béart, actress;Xavier Beauvois, filmmaker; Alain Benoit, physicist (Academy of Sciences); Jane Birkin, singer, actress; Juliette Binoche, actress; Benjamin Biolay, singer; Dominique Blanc, actress; Gilles Boeuf, biologist; Mathieu Boogaerts, singer; John Boorman, filmmaker; Romane Bohringer, actress; Carole Bouquet, actress; Stéphane Braunschweig, director; Zabou Breitman, actress, director; Nicolas Briançon, actor, director; Irina Brook,director; Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, actress, filmmaker; Florence Burgat, philosopher; Gabriel Byrne, actor; Cali, singer; Sophie Calle, artist; Jane Campion, filmmaker; Isabelle Carré, actress; Emmanuel Carrère, writer; Anne Carson, author and professor; Michel Cassé, astrophysicist; Laetitia Casta, actress; Bernard Castaing, physicist (Academy of Sciences); Antoine de Caunes, journalist, filmmaker; Alain Chamfort, singer;Boris Charmatz, choreographer; Christiane Chauviré, philosopher; Jeanne Cherhal, singer; François Civil, actor; Hélène Cixous, writer; Isabel Coixet, filmmaker; Françoise Combes, astrophysicist (Collège de France); François Cluzet, actor; Gregory Colbert, photographer, filmmaker; Bradley Cooper, actor; Brady Corbet, actor; Beatrice Copper-Royer, psychologist; Marion Cotillard, actress; Denis Couvet, ecologist; Camille Cottin, actress;Clotilde Courau, actress; Franck Courchamp, Ecologist (European Academy of Sciences); Nicole Croisille, singer; David Cronenberg, filmmaker; Alfonso Cuaro, filmmaker; Willem Dafoe, actor; Philippe Decouflé, choreographer; Sébastien Delage, musician; Vincent Delerm, singer; Alain Delon, actor; Catherine Deneuve, actress; Claire Denis, filmmaker; Philippe Descola, anthropologist (Collège de France); Alexandre Desplat, composer; Manu Dibango,musician; Hervé Dole, astrophysicist (Institut universitaire de France); Valérie Dréville, actress; Diane Dufresne, singer; Sandrine Dumas, actress, director; Roman Duris, actor; Lars Eidinger, actor; Marianne Faithfull, singer; Pierre Fayet, physicist (Academy of Sciences); Ralph Fiennes, actor; Frah (Shaka Ponk), singer; Cécile de France, actress; Stéphane Freiss, actor; Thierry Frémaux, festival director; Jean-Michel Frodon,critic, teacher; Marie-Agnès Gillot, star dancer; Pierre-Henri Gouyon, biologist; Julien Grain, astrophysicist; Anouk Grinberg, actress; Mikhail Gromov, mathematician (Academy of Sciences); Sylvie Guillem, star dancer; Arthur H, singer; Ethan Hawke, actor; Christopher Hampton, scriptwriter; Nora Hamzawi, actress; Ivo Van Hove, director; Isabelle Huppert, actress; Agnès Jaoui, actress, filmmaker; Michel Jonasz, singer;Camelia Jordana, singer; Jean Jouzel, climatologist (Academy of Sciences); Juliette, singer; Anish Kapoor, sculptor, painter; Mathieu Kassovitz, actor; Angélique Kidjo, singer; Cédric Klapisch, filmmaker; Thierry Klifa, filmmaker; Panos H. Koutras, filmmaker; Lou de Laage, actress; Ludovic Lagarde, director; Laurent Lafitte, actor; Laurent Lamarca, singer; Maxence Laperouse, actor; Camille Laurens, writer;Bernard Lavilliers, singer; Sandra Lavorel, Ecologist (Academy of Sciences); Jude Law, actor; Patrice Leconte, filmmaker; Roland Lehoucq, astrophysicist; Gérard Lefort, journalist; Nolwenn Leroy, singer; Peter Lindbergh, photographer; Louane, singer; Luce, singer; Ibrahim Maalouf, musician; Vincent Macaigne, director, actor; Benoît Magimel, actor; Yvon Le Maho, Ecologist (Academy of Sciences); Andreï Makine,writer of the French Academy; Abd al Malik, rapper; Sophie Marceau, actress; Virginie Maris, philosopher; André Markowicz, translator; Nicolas Martin, journalist; Vincent Message, writer; Wajdi Mouawad, director; Nana Mouskouri, singer; Jean-Luc Nancy, philosopher; Arthur Nauzyciel, director; Safy Nebbou, filmmaker; Pierre Niney, actor; Helena Noguerra, singer; Claude Nuridsany, filmmaker; Michael Ondaatje,writer; Thomas Ostermeier, director; Clive Owen, actor; Corine Pelluchon, philosopher; Laurent Pelly, director; Raphaël Personnaz, actor; Dominique Pitoiset, director; Denis Podalydès, actor; Apple, singer; Martin Provost, filmmaker; Olivier Py, director; Susheela Raman, singer; Charlotte Rampling, actress; Raphael, singer; Regine, singer; Cécile Renault, astrophysicist;Robin Renucci, actor; Jean-Michel Ribes, director; Tim Robbins, actor; Muriel Robin, actress; Isabella Rossellini, actress; Brigitte Roüan, actress, filmmaker; Carlo Rovelli, physicist (Institut Universitaire de France); Eric Ruf, director of the Comédie-Française; Céline Sallette, actress; Rodrigo Santoro, actor; Marjane Satrapi, filmmaker; Kristin Scott Thomas, actress; Albin de la Simone, musician; Abderrahmane Sissako, filmmaker; Marianne Slot,producer; Patti Smith, singer, writer; Sabrina Speich, geoscientist; Marion Stalens, director; Kristen Stewart, actress; Tom Stoppard, playwright; Peter Suschitzky, chief operator; Malgorzata Szumowska, filmmaker; Béla Tarr, filmmaker; Gilles Taurand, scriptwriter; Alexandre Tharaud, musician; James Thierrée, dancer, choreographer; Mélanie Thierry, actress; Danièle Thompson, filmmaker; Melita Toscan du Plantier, press secretary;Jean-Louis Trintignant, actor; John Turturro, actor; Hélène Tysman, pianist; Pierre Vanhove, physicist; Karin Viard, actress; Polydoros Vogiatzis, actor; Rufus Wainwright, singer; Régis Wargnier, filmmaker; Jacques Weber, actor; Wim Wenders, filmmaker; Sonia Wieder-Atherton, musician; Bob Wilson, director; Lambert Wilson, actor; Jia Zhang-ke, filmmaker; Elsa Zylberstein, actress.

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