Robert De Niro, Madonna lead call for politicians to avoid post-lockdown “return to normal”

They urge a "profound overhaul of our goals, values, and economies"

More than 200 high-profile actors and creatives have joined scientists in an open letter urging politicians to systematically upend life after the coronavirus to avoid “ecological disaster”.

Robert De Niro, Madonna, Cate Blanchett and others have signed the editorial ‘No To A Return To Normal’ published in Le Monde yesterday (May 6) that calls on world leaders and citizens “to undertake a profound overhaul of our goals, values, and economies,” in the wake of COVID-19.

The letter, which was written by Academy Award-winning French actress Juliette Binoche and astrophysicist Aurélien Barrau, states that the pandemic is “inviting us to examine what is essential. And what we see is simple: ‘adjustments’ are not enough. The problem is systemic.”

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It warns that “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.”

They also point to the “pursuit of consumerism” and “an obsession with productivity” which has “led us to deny the value of life itself.” They add: “We believe it is unthinkable to ‘go back to normal,’” as the COVID-19 outbreak eases.

Robert de Niro
Robert de Niro

Adam Driver, Willem Dafoe, Rooney Mara, Penelope Cruz, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Alejandro G Inarritu, Paolo Sorrentino, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Pedro Almodovar, Guillaume Canet,  Nathalie Baye and Monica Bellucci are among the others who have lent their signatures to the letter.

Here’s the text in full:

“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.

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“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 increasing social inequalities, 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 happen without a massive and determined commitment. We must act now. It is as much a matter of survival as one of dignity and coherence.”

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