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Triennale Milano
© John Fowler from Unsplash

When there will be no more humans: the 6th episode of From the Moon

August 5 2021
Not as bleak and fatalistic as it may sound, we imagine a utopia or dystopia (depending on how you look at it): the world without humans, and the very final stages of the universe beyond that. Speaking to two philosophers, a biologist, a theatre director, an ecologist, an HIV AIDS specialist and more besides; this is the most interdisciplinary and thought-provoking episode yet.

Covid cases in the world © Martin Sanchez from Unsplash
Panorama of the ghost city of Pripyat © IAEA
Yasemin Atalay Bumper cars in the greenest amusement park in the world. Pripyat, Ukraine © IAEA
© Andreas Selter from Unsplash
© Tyler Callahan from Unsplash
© Tyler Callahan from Unsplash
The Covid 19 Pandemic is without a doubt the pretext for this seemingly fatalistic line of thought. But there is a long tradition of enquiring about the end of everything - that spans many disciplines - philosopher Ben Ware introduces the thinking behind human extinction from Kant to Voltaire to Punk and the current pandemic. Then, Tom Hughes of the EcoHealth Alliance in Malaysia explains his work, researching how changing land use in tropical areas of the planet is resulting in more diseases crossing over into humans ‒ he and others like him have been warning about this for years.
David takes a more interpretive interlude with Portuguese theatre director Tiago Rodrigues who brainstorms the end of humanity from a performative point of view, maybe the pandemic is just a dress rehearsal? Explorer and biologist Anne Luadisoit speaking from the Democratic Republic of Congo, imagines a natural environment void of humans ‒ it's not as peaceful as you might think. We hear from the second philosopher on the show Emanuele Coccia who deciphers the tiny virus ‒ part chemical part living matter ‒ and able to bring the modern world to its knees. Consultant physician and HIV AIDS specialist Marta Boffito explains exactly how a virus attacks the human body and says that we can only make limited comparisons between the COVID 19 and AIDS viruses. Finally, theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack is back, this time with predictions on how everything will ultimately end, far far beyond our own species.

"It's important that we think of this desire for a return to normal as a denial of death, in a way, a refusal to accept human vulnerability and finitude."
Ben Ware

"This is something we have been talking about, really, for over a decade. Policymakers have been supporting the kind of work that we do, but people haven't really been listening to the warnings that we've been giving."
Tom Hughes

Ben Ware
Tom Hughes
Anne Laudisoit © Caroline Thirion Divergence
Marta Boffito

"We always try to imagine the perspective of a big thing, a big animal that we can see. But if you are a bacterium or a virus, then you too are looking for another habitat. They are also seeking a host."
Anne Laudisoit

"I think that knowledge about testing viral infections and pandemics, is probably – hopefully – a step forward towards fighting transmission of viral diseases."
Marta Boffito

Tiago Rodrigues © Filipe Ferreira
Emanuele Coccia © le peuple qui manque

"I think, extinction will always be connected, at least in my case, with memory – with what was before, what led us here, but also what we could have avoided, what we could have changed."
Tiago Rodrigues

"Humanity is not a subject in itself, it is just one of the infinite forms that life can assume. And from this point of view, the end of humanity is not even a question."
Emanuele Coccia
Host: David Plaisant Sound editor: Alex Portfelix Soundtrack: Jon Arnold dei Super Drama Production Triennale Milano: Marco Martello, Gabriele Savioli