Greta Thunberg spoke with Johan Rockström, the earth systems scientist and director of the Potsdam Institute, on Earth Day this past Thursday, reported The Guardian. The conversation took place digitally at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm.
During the conversation, the Swedish climate activist spoke about the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic and how they relate to climate change. Ultimately, Thunberg says, our society is not sustainable, and this has been made clear through the effects of the coronavirus as it has spread throughout the world.
"Whether we like it or not, the world has changed. It looks completely different now from how it did a few months ago. It may never look the same again. We have to choose a new way forward."Thunberg added that "if one single virus can destroy economies in a couple of weeks, it shows we are not thinking long-term and taking risks into account," revealing the unsustainability of our society.
Rockström also chimed in with his opinion on the matter, drawing a correlation between the environmental crisis and the pandemic. The scientist pointed out that wildlife trade and deforestation have contributed to the likelihood of viruses jumping from one species to another, while air pollution has made the human respiratory system weaker, in turn making us more vulnerable to viruses.
"The scientific evidence shows they are interconnected and part of the same planetary crisis. We are living beyond the carrying capacity of the planet so we are putting human health and the health of nature at risk."Both Rockström and Thunberg hope that the coronavirus pandemic will show people how critical it is to listen to the scientific community. They agree that governments need to pay more attention to and heed the warnings of scientists when creating and amending policies.
Fortunately, public opinion around the world has shifted due to the activism of people like Thunberg and high-profile campaigns by large groups, including FridaysForFuture and Extinction Rebellion. While strikes and marches have been canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, Thunberg asserts that they will start back up once large group gatherings are permitted again.
"We have to adapt. That is what you have to do in a crisis. People are thinking we will get out of this and then we will push even harder," the climate activist said.
On Earth Day, Thunberg took to social media platform Twitter to call on the public to spread science and push for change. She explained that safeguarding future living conditions for all species will come from science and public opinion rather than governments and businesses.