French actress Juliette Binoche was one of the high-profile, outspoken signatories of the open letter. Credit: Flickr, Dick Thomas Johnson.

French actress Juliette Binoche was one of the high-profile, outspoken signatories of the open letter. Credit: Flickr, Dick Thomas Johnson.

Two hundred renowned French scientists and artists, along with international colleagues, have formed a common front, calling for urgent political action to address the “global catastrophe” facing mankind and other species. In an open letter in the French daily Le Monde, they say that immediate and firm action must be taken to limit climate change and the collapse of biodiversity we are seeing all over the planet.

“It is time to get serious,” the signatories said. “The sixth mass extinction is taking place at unprecedented speed. But it is not too late to avert the worst.”

“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.”

The letter comes at a very hot moment — not only are we facing (and causing) unprecedented warming and widespread extinction, but the silver lining that seemed to be the Paris Agreement is jeopardized by the current reckless US administration. Many other governments, while boasting environmental ambitions, have failed to accomplish said ambitions — and France is no exception.

Although you can’t say that France isn’t doing anything, the country’s lack of more impactful measures was underlined by none other than Nicolas Hulot, the French Environment minister — or rather, the former environment minister. Hulot, a very popular figure among both scientists and the general public, resigned live on air during a radio interview, saying that he feels “alone” in the government, condemning the lack of progress and the influence that big business lobby still has on the government.

Responses to the letter have been very polarized, but overall, the letter seems to be very well-received by the general public. However, it remains to be seen whether it will be heard by the right ears.

Last year, over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries signed a letter in BioScience journal, titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”. The first notice was issued in 1992.

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