UCL Minds


Transcript: Episode 8

How do we reimagine the future?

Future earth, future tech, future health

Vivienne Parry  0:03  
Hello and welcome to Coronavirus: The Whole Story under the Cheltenham Science Festival, the at home version. This is week eight of a series that tries to understand Coronavirus and its impacts through the lens of UCL research and expertise. My name is Vivienne Parry, and I'm a writer, broadcaster, and your Coronavirus Guide. Every week I've been talking to you UCL researchers about their groundbreaking work and what it can add to our understanding of this crisis. We've covered everything from impact on education to similarities with 14th century Britain during the Black Death. All our past episodes are still available. Details are coming at the end. This edition we're talking about reimagining the post COVID future with a geographer, a technologist and a global health expert. I'm joined remotely Of course by geographer professor of climatology at UCL and festival regular and favourite Mark Maslin, Jack Stilgoe is Associate Professor of Science and Technology studies at UCL, and he specialises in the governance of emerging technologies. And finally, last but absolutely not least, Deenan Pillay professor of Neurology at UCL, and lately returned from directing the Africa Health Research Institute. Future Earth, future tech, future health post COVID. Let's start with Mark, we say that the world is going to change that the new normal will not be the old normal at all. How do you see change happening? What is the world going to look like?

Mark Maslin  1:47  
So I think that the world is going to change unimaginably I mean, the key thing is that we have faced a global crisis in COVID-19 that nobody really predicted to actually see the scope of it. And if you think about it, the last time we had such a huge crisis was the Second World War. And what happened after the Second World War was the Allies got together. And they redesigned the whole world. They put in place all the modern economic systems that we know today. So I think that post COVID, we can change our view of the world. And I think it's also important because I think it's also changed people's view. And for last 30 years, there's been this mantra that actually, businesses no best government should keep out of things. We don't want the nanny state, except if we look at the COVID-19 response, as soon as it hit, everybody looks at government, and it's basically government that's there to look after us and to save us from such a crisis. Now of course, that's supported by civil society. But it's then not business, it's government. And so we suddenly have a change in the view of government. And I think that's important, because people are now going to look at government and say, Okay, you've dealt with this crisis, how are you going to deal with future pandemics? And how are you going to deal with an even bigger crisis of climate change? And

Vivienne Parry  3:21  
of course, the thing about climate change is that suddenly, we've all noticed, I mean, it's been really noticeable in London, that the air is cleaner. I mean, it's coincided with a period of absolutely fantastic weather, and we've become much more aware of our impact on the planet. How do you think that's playing into the future?

Mark Maslin  3:43  
Well, I think this is building on a wave. So what was really exciting is 2018 and 19. There was this huge up swelling of knowledge about climate change, and this has driven me By sort of the Friday strikes for schools, whereby teenagers were saying, I'm sorry, climate change is real. It's a huge issue. Why aren't adults dealing with it? And I think that was incredibly powerful message that something like 4 million schoolchildren striked and basically said, guys, you're the adults, you're the politicians deal with it. And I think on top of that, we've had extinction rebellion coming on and saying, look, this really isn't important issue. And they've been some incredible science reports have come out that said, these are the impacts are going to happen if you don't keep climate change. So on top of that, we then have this pandemic. And anybody would have thought that the pandemic would have completely shut down any conversation about climate change, because this is a crisis. Now, let's worry about the climate later. But what's really interesting is actually the climate discussions are always good. going on. And actually, we're now talking about how we can leverage all the positive changes from the pandemic, to actually deal with a much bigger wave of climate change.

Vivienne Parry  5:12  
And as a climatologist, how big has the impact of COVID been on the environment?

Mark Maslin  5:19  
So if we look at, say carbon emissions, people will assume that there's been a huge impact of the pandemic. Unfortunately, there was a brilliant paper by colleagues of mine in niche climate change that showed that yes, in April because of the lockdown around the world, emissions dropped by 17%. Okay, globally. However, if we look at the rest of the year, and we put all the lockdowns together, the actual drop in emissions is only going to be between about four and a maximum 7%. That's not a lot considering that every day there usually is 100,000 And flights around the world, most of which have ceased. Most car journeys in most cities have ceased. However, the actual impact on carbon is actually quite small. And I think this is the worrying thing, which is, even when we stop all our transport, we're still emitting the same amount of carbon, as we did in 2006. So it looks like we must go back to basics. The carbon emissions from our society are really embedded It is about how we generate energy around the world to actually fuel our industries, heat our houses, and to actually look after us. And it shows that even with a massive pandemic, actually has very little effect. So what we need to do is go back to basics and say, Okay, this has taught us a lesson we need to actually redesign how we produce energy for The world to actually make sure that people are safe and healthy.

Vivienne Parry  7:03  
I wanted to look at another aspect, which is that the way that we live our lives in the world has accelerated the chance of zoonotic disease. So a disease that passes from wild animal into a human, much more likely, how are we going to tackle that?

Mark Maslin  7:25  
So I think we need to change our views of wildlife and the natural world. Because the problem is that for many, it is a resource to be mined. Wildlife is to be captured to be traded. And so we need to help countries around the world to actually enforce regulation to a protect wildlife to protect unique ecosystems around the world, not just because they are valuable in their own light, and because they stopped store a huge amount of carbon, but also because we need that barrier between them and us to stop these diseases. It's really interesting that after SARS, and after bird flu, there were temporary bans on the wet markets in China. And there was a ban on wildlife try trade within China. But because it's a cultural norm, these were then relaxed. We now know that actually, we need to stop these happening bushmeat and wet markets around the world needs to be ceased. And I think it's really important Firstly, to actually have the regulations to ban them to then enforce those regulations. But at the same time, we need to educate people. Why that actually having this close contact with animals whereby diseases can jump into humans where we have no natural immunity is in credibly bad not just for the region, but actually for the whole world. But we also have to remember that we need to provide alternative incomes, we need to provide those people with livelihoods. You can't just turn and say, I'm sorry, you can't use the wildlife. You can't use the natural resources. And yeah, but no, you can't have a job. So it's a balancing act between making sure you have all the white regulations to protect the wildlife and protect ourselves, at the same time, that we need to make sure that people have actual incomes and livelihoods that they can actually rely on. And also, this is going to get worse in the future. Because one of the things about climate change is that we are looking at rewilding and reforesting large parts of the world. I mean, there's a call even by Donald Trump to actually plant a trillion trees in the next 30 years. And so therefore, we're going to expand the world much more which is fantastic, but it means that there's going to be more human wild contact, and therefore more opportunities for diseases to jump into humans.

Vivienne Parry  10:09  
Yes, so good and good and bad there. Let's turn to you, jack. I mean, one of the things that's become very apparent, with our two metre distancing, and everything else, is that close interaction between humans is something that we may come to fear. How can technology help us with that? But are there dangers in it?

Jack Stilgoe  10:37  
So Well, let's let's start from where from where Mark left off, which was the, you know, the imagination of a desirable future world. And what we see in a moment of crisis is the possibility for reimagine ation, because there's all sorts of things that in normal times we take for granted and regard as inevitable. And I guess that The inevitable march of technologies is one of those things. And it's in a moment of crisis where what we consider to be normal gets rethought that we might stop and think about what what does our relationship with technology look like? And how could we improve that relationship? I mean, one very strange and likely semi permanent impact of COVID is likely to be that we are more distant from one another physically for quite a while. Even if you know our freedoms come back, we might still be slightly more suspicious and slightly more distance of one another. And actually, you know, the history of pandemics is also a history of the redesign of our of our technological worlds. I mean, if you imagine how London the streets of London pretty, you know, permanent things changed after the cholera epidemics of the of the 19th century, right and how the introduction of London's sewage system was a response to To those to those diseases, we can imagine that the redesign of our worlds taking place in in some pretty profound ways. But I would say we don't know what those ways are going to look like. And unless we talk about these things, you know, it's very clear that the people that are selling particular tech solutions, will use this crisis as an opportunity to get us to buy more of their stuff. Now, some of that stuff might be good, and it might enable us to get some of our our freedoms back, you know, maybe we're willing to pay a particular price in surveillance, for the for the freedom to move around, if it means that our phones are acting as surveillance devices. And you know, that's one of the discussions that's happening about about contact, tracing apps. But I would just say that there's a need to talk about these things so that we don't sleepwalk into a future in which we accept the technology's available as solutions to these problems without asking of their solutions that we want

Vivienne Parry  13:01  
just told me through contactless because we've seen a huge rise in stores, insisting on contactless payments. And a lot of that contactless is actually not contactless, you quite often have to touch a screen, which probably lots of people have touched before. Where do you think we're going with that? And what are the implications?

Jack Stilgoe  13:26  
So this is one of those. It's an interesting example. Right? It would appear to be that that's an inevitable progress of the way that we pay for things is, is to pay in contactless ways, and that might be justified by hygiene, it might be justified by speed, convenience, but it's part of a bigger trend towards a cashless society. And, you know, at first sight that seems to be more efficient, right and the argument for technological changes often that it is more efficient, but we have to consider all who really benefits from that. technological change and all they're all they're losers as well as, as well as winners. And in a cashless society, you know, there are all sorts of informal exchanges of money that that will disappear. And if you're a beggar or or a busker, or if you're somebody that distrusts the banking system for whatever reason, then then you might that you might lose out. Now society might say, well, that's, again, a price to pay for, for efficiency, but just to presume that that it's an inevitable benefit for all is is a mistake. I would, I would say,

Vivienne Parry  14:34  
what about robotics, I mean, the human less way to interact.

Jack Stilgoe  14:42  
So I think there's quite an there's an interesting example here. So I do I'm doing a lot of work at the moment on on self driving cars. And it was quite interesting when COVID first hit. People in the transport sector in particular thought this is going to be huge for us huge in potentially good and potentially bad ways. So if you're a public transport company that relies upon closely shared transport, you're thinking how on earth do we deliver a service that that works when people aren't gonna have to be two metres away from one another on a on a bus or a train or a tube? And so people were looking to the excitement of self driving cars as a sort of poster child for automation, artificial intelligence, the use of robotics to do jobs that let's face it, humans aren't very good at which is you know, why more than a million people a year die on the roads, right? We tend not to be very reliable drivers. So here would seem to be a clear case for for automation. A couple of the self driving car companies said I will you know, this is an opportunity to publicise our technology but it quickly quickly becomes clear that the technology is not quite as ready as Some of the enthusiasts would have you believe so perhaps the largest self driving car company, Wei Mo, who are currently having have a fleet of vehicles in, in Phoenix, Arizona, they said actually, we're going to have to ground our fleet of cars because even though we've just started taking the the safety driver out of the car, so the car is genuinely driverless for some people some of the time. And it turns out that actually, much like the Wizard of Oz, there's a lot going on behind the curtain. And there's all sorts of hidden labour involved in getting a fleet of self driving cars to operate people in offices, people who need to go and get the self driving car from certain places and take it back. People who need to operate the self driving car on those routes where it's not quite so comfortable. So we're not quite at the robot revolution yet. There are certainly some people who would like to use social distance As a driver for further automation, and there we have a set of old and important debates about well who benefits from automation? And what does that do to the future of human labour? What does it do to skilled and unskilled work? In a world in which robots are taking on an increasing proportion of the tasks

Vivienne Parry  17:22  
robotic carers is something that's been discussed quite often. And you sometimes see things which are, which are actually very pleasing and very much enjoyed by residents of care homes. Robotic seal pups I've seen which residents stroke, but the idea of having some sort of robot carer appals people. And yet, certainly a robot Cara wouldn't have been spreading infection in the way that we've sadly seen in care homes.

Jack Stilgoe  17:57  
Right. So I think this tells you why you need to think intelligently about what we want our technologies to do. If there's a simple, imagine substitution between a human carer and a robot carer, then people are going to rightly say, Well, what does the human Give me that the robot can't give me, the robot Seal Pup serves a particular and relatively well defined purpose, which means that it's a much easier to understand, much easier to assess technology for most people. But again, I think like the argument for greater efficiency, the argument for greater safety can cloud our thinking and it can be quite dangerous in that regard that, you know, if somebody says this is the safe thing to do, then it might mean that all of those questions that people might have, like, Well, does the robot actually deliver the sort of care that I need? And what anyway Do we want our care is to do is it just a set of in quotes, tasks or is actually a human character? To provide the sort of emotional connection, genuine care work, that only humans that only humans can and maybe that maybe that closeness, that proximity is what we need, even if, you know, we need to be much more careful about, about viruses while we while we construct those relationships.

Vivienne Parry  19:19  
And it's interesting, isn't it that while we've all been locked down, and those people who've been shielded, and who are absolutely on their own, you know, a human voice and human interaction is extraordinarily important to them, and they really crave it. And I think actually what this Coronavirus has done is it's really highlighted the problems of loneliness, and what lack of human interaction can can do and because of Coronavirus, we've all piled in to help people who we know are on their own and maybe actually In the world post COVID will be much more thoughtful about interactions with people who are by themselves. I want to turn to you now Dineen because, you know, this has had an extraordinary shock to health systems around the world. How is COVID going to change our world health for you?

Deenan Pillay  20:25  
Well, thank you. It's amazing to think that we're only five months in to having discovered a new virus. I am a biologist, and so I'm aware of very regular new discoveries. But still, we're just five months into this this virus it caused mayhem around the world as an as Mark and jack, as I've alluded to, and yet one of the, I think one of the characteristics of the last five months from my perspective as a clinical scientist, has been the huge amount of research and discovery that's gone on which which does reflect, you know, our technological development particularly in this case, in the case of biological and medical sciences. It is amazing that within five months, we know the structure of all the key components and building blocks of the virus. We are so far advanced in developing vaccines, not yet not there yet, but nevertheless, more than 20 vaccines recovery programmes on the go and and supported by in preparation for this pandemic preparation, financing and collaboration around the world. But there is no doubt that there is a gap between that amazing advance the likes of which I don't think we've seen before in terms of speed, which is a response to a new medical problem, but with the death toll that We've seen and the variation in death toll we see around the world is Stark. You know, it is clear that some countries have been able to synthesise the information as it comes out in real time and be able to implement programmes within their countries that have on the whole limited the number of deaths compared to those countries that you know, we have not done that successfully. And and it's interesting that this doesn't necessarily split between the traditional high income versus low middle income countries in one of the most successful countries has been Vietnam, for instance, that is undertaken a very rapid response surveillance of its population, really implementing stuff that within the UK we're still struggling with, and yet that's been done with very few cases and very little mortality. So it's also another lined the unequal nature around the world but in unpredictable ways. One further sort of aspect of this, of course, is that there has been the concern of the impact of COVID on many African countries. And fortunately for many different reasons, this has not come to fruition yet the actual overall morbidity and mortality remains low. But of course, we expect that to to increase Meanwhile, in some parts of Latin America, you know, it's been horrendous Peru, Ecuador, and of course, Brazil. And then to top it all, you know, there's the the political context of which was, which is the prism through which all this needs to be seen. And if you look at the countries with the highest death rates now, because we're talking about USA, we're talking about the UK and Brazil and You could argue there's an argument about the sort of similarities and some of the political dynamics within those countries controversial but nevertheless, interesting to look at. So that's just, that's a summary of really the lessons that we can that we can take away from this, that that it is health systems. It's the way all countries organised array and array are able to assimilate new technology new understanding into serving their population. It's that which becomes a critical component. And I'm sure we'll learn lessons and that will demonstrate for the future how health systems need to prepare themselves.

Vivienne Parry  24:39  
Yes, I mean, Britain's response has been shaming. I mean, you know, we're we're a science rich country. And yet, you know, the death rate has been just enormous here. And compared to somewhere like Greece, for instance, we would have previously perhaps regarded as a sick man of Europe, but its assets The sick man of Europe. In that sense, they've had relatively few deaths compared to us. So how do you think? I mean, we've we've seen all this happen. Dineen, but how is it going to change? Because one of the things that strikes me from history is that great changes occurred during periods of great change. For instance, during the First World War, women became much more involved in science, for example, but once the war had finished very quickly, the status quo was resumed. So do you think that COVID has been sufficiently shocking to the system that it will reengineer health systems?

Deenan Pillay  25:48  
That's a really good question, and I would, my answer would I would very much hope so. recognising that that depends on political leadership. And populations that really have have witnessed what we've gone through and a really one for force change. And of course, you, you, you, you say that these changes the First World War, certainly after the Second World War. I think we're all familiar with the restructuring of the world in and certainly, you know, with a feeling of of avoiding future wars and and and developing some pact for peace and and growth and prosperity behind the the the restructuring of health systems which as I mentioned is political. I think what's also being brought into sharp focus is the relationship between science and government. And in some cases, there's been quite disappointing because of course that the progress of science and jack talks about development of robotics. There's been this assumption that science means progress. And certainly if we look at the UK, how science and there's no doubt we host, you know, some of the best universities in the world inclusive, including our own. There's a lot of money that's going into science. But But equally, and disappointingly, I think that relationship between that science advance and the political environment and the political culture has been found wanting. And I would almost go as far to say, Well, I will go as far to say that I think this is also displayed a scientific illiteracy within many governments were put to shame by for instance, Angela Merkel, in one of her press conferences

Vivienne Parry  27:52  
are explaining are not in a brilliant way,

Deenan Pillay  27:56  
claiming our r naught where you couldn't get any of our police Leaders in other countries, including the UK, to explain anything of the sort. And they did

Vivienne Parry  28:05  
come up with that wonderful equation, didn't they? It did that wonderful

Deenan Pillay  28:08  

Vivienne Parry  28:10  
Now I'm going to turn to jack because the relationship of science to the state is one of his special interest I can feel him besting to speak over the airwaves,

Jack Stilgoe  28:19  
jack, but it's really I want to pick up on something that Dean and said about, about learning lessons, actually, because I don't think it's just about making sure that our politicians understand the science better, because, you know, what we do have in Britain supposedly is an excellent science advisory system that should be able to communicate cutting edge science into things that are politically meaningful. I completely take your point, though, that there's been an extraordinary breakdown here. I think there's a there's a bigger though political challenge, which is about you know, our inability to learn lessons either from other places or All from the past. And, you know, there was a lot of talk about how when COVID arrived, it was unprecedented. And therefore, you know, we need to respond and react quite quickly in a few days later people were saying, Well, actually, no, we have plans in place for this. We just chose not to take them very seriously. We chose not to invest in the things that we needed to invest in. And when Italy certainly in Europe provided us with an extraordinary early warning of what was to come, we presumed in the UK that somehow our situation would be different. And I think the the political roots of that form of exceptionalism that make learning lessons so hard, are what needs to be tackled. I mean, in terms of what the world looks like in a, you know, the post COVID world I think we have to understand in whatever public inquiry follows this whole business, we have to undertake Stand how we do make sure that next time around because there will be a next time. We do take on board some of those lessons and make sure that we don't just the next time that something happens say, Oh, this is unprecedented, let's respond and react and, you know, probably react too late as we have done this time.

Vivienne Parry  30:20  
I want to talk a bit more with you all about this thing of exceptionalism. One of the things that marked out the period after the Second World War was the number of organisations that sprang up, to bring nations together to work on problems collaboratively. And the one thing that we know about these global health crises is that no one country can solve them by themselves. And yet, all countries seem to be taking the approach of its us first close our borders. shut everything down. We don't want to talk to anybody else. How do you think that's going to play out? Are we going to be more collaborative? And I want to come to you Dineen in a minute and ask whether you think there's going to be a strengthened drill for who. But Mark, what are your thoughts about collaboration?

Mark Maslin  31:26  
Well, I think one of the interesting things, it's who is collaborating? So if you look at science, actually, the sciences have actually increased the collaboration through medical dialogues through sort of discussions about how diseases are being passed, etc. And I think one of the interesting things is that we have a huge international community in each of the fields that we're worried about. So we have a huge collaborative set of scientists looking at climate change. Looking bye Diversity, looking at pandemics and viruses. what the problem is, is that we have great links with each other and to international organisations. But it's then the disconnect I see is from those international organisations to the actual nation state. So for example, with the climate negotiations, we have great ideas. We have Win Win solutions, things that will make countries wealthier, safer, healthier, except they're not accepted by the political leaders at the time, because that requires a little bit of change, a little bit of forethought. And I think that's where the disconnect comes.

Vivienne Parry  32:41  
Dena And what about the role of who and I'd also something that seems to be really a crying need, which is to have global facilities which are not owned by any one country, but a common For all countries, for say the manufacturer of vaccines or PP, or, you know, those, those critical things that are needed in in viral outbreaks,

Deenan Pillay  33:11  
I think the who has played a fantastic role and is is really needed future and clearly Let's all hope it survives under the attack of President Trump. Having said that, of course the who is really caught it needs to work through governments, its member states who in the end funded and and Ted Ross the head of the who has to trade a very fine line, as has always been the case. So the more that there are global tensions particularly amongst this you know, the big The so called superpowers, then the more difficult it will be for the who, but in a clearly a global approach to, in this case, an infectious disease. I mean, We say all the time infections, no, no borders, they spread everywhere. And we've actually seen, you know, this, this, this happened with COVID-19. There are some real benefits to the way that the globe The world has become smaller. I started off talking about the immense the amazing speed of science that has progressed. But unlike, I think any other time in my career of following new new events, and I relate this back to HIV that I lived to and early in my career, and following the science is that what is so different about this is the science has not all come from the US and the UK, the Anglo Saxon sort of research world, the best science has come out of China has come out of Germany has come out I mentioned about in terms of implementation sites from Vietnam. It has been amazing that actually that reflects the fact that there has been a true A global approach and collaborative approach to science and science infrastructure that has allowed us to do that. And it's interesting again, by contrast, the political response has been very much about isolationism. Because of course, countries have to come up with their own solutions. And even within Europe, each country is expected to come up with its own solution. But there is a contradiction here, obviously, because to solve these world's problems, there has to be a way in which we all work together, whether it is through the UN, whether it's through the who, whether it's through other collaborations we have an example is Sepi, which has been set up to harness resource both from governments philanthropy and also the private sector as a preparation for vaccines. And they have they've played a major role in pushing forward the way that vaccines are produced, but immediately we're seeing on vaccines. We're seeing the whole debate about well who's invested most and therefore which country will get benefit? And unfortunately, unfortunately, even in the UK, I have to say that politically, it is far easier to say we've secured vaccines for all the UK population, rather than saying we've secured vaccines for the world. Even though we know that as long as COVID-19 exists anywhere in the world, then every country is at risk. This again comes back to that political dynamic, and I only hope and of course, politik, politics, particularly than the big countries is determined increasingly by a small number of individuals. And I just hope that we can get to a political consensus very soon.

Vivienne Parry  36:41  
And another area we're seeing a very marked difference in countries is the way that they're using technology to track their populations in a way that appears to citizens to assure their safety at first, but of course, you don't know How long that tracing and tracking is going to continue? I mean, will it continue after the threat of viruses passed or just be carried on? In case it does, but really, it's much more about controlling populations. JACK, I wonder what your thoughts were on that.

Jack Stilgoe  37:22  
So I think the debate in as much as there has been a debate about about using apps for contact tracing is is really interesting in that regard. One of the earliest concerns that came out when the NHS decided to go its own way on developing on developing a contact tracing app, one of the big concerns was one of function creep, which tends to happen with all new technologies that they are designed for one purpose and then get repurposed in sometimes good sometimes bad ways by users by by their design. liners. And the concern and this was also, you know, apples concern because Apple uses privacy as one of the ways that it differentiates itself from from other tech firms. The concern was, well, how are we going to make sure that the new facilities that we give to our smartphones don't surveil us in other ways that we circumscribed their uses just for this particular this particular purpose where, you know, as as with other public health measures, we are willing to sacrifice freedoms for the the greater good, but if there's any, any sniff of the idea that well, this will help Google advertise to us, then people will rightly lose trust in in the app that we need. We desperately need people to download and use if it's going to do the thing that it is trying to do.

Vivienne Parry  38:58  
Before we finish, I want To give you each a magic wand, and I want you to tell me, what's the one thing that you imagine for the future that will be still with us in three to say five years time, that will permanently affect your area of interest. Let's go to you, Mark.

Mark Maslin  39:23  
Ah, so very small question, a very

Vivienne Parry  39:26  
powerful thing, by the way.

Mark Maslin  39:28  
Oh, I wish. I think the most important thing in the future is citizens realising that near liberalism isn't the only model of governance. And I think what will be really powerful, both dealing with future pandemics, dealing with climate change issues, and dealing with our relationship with nature and a huge biodiversity loss is the idea that if governance is done well, it actually can benefit all of us, actually, the last people in the world that are going to look after us are people in business. I think that has undone 30 years of political rhetoric, particularly in the United Kingdom, and the US. And now unfortunately, Brazil, which basically says, No, no, governments aren't to be trusted, you should, you shouldn't let them do anything. So I think the most important change in the next three to five years is citizens saying, okay, actually, I want governments to regulate, I want them to protect me from climate change. I want them to protect the wildlife so I don't get another pandemic sweeping across the world that politically could really mark a massive change, just like it did after the Second World War. JACK, how

Jack Stilgoe  40:54  
about you? So I would love for the political mood to change. I. I think it won't happen that quickly. So I have less faith than than mark in that in our but I happen to speed if your particular Yeah, but you know, I think even magic is still constrained by people's social lives, I would say the thing that I would like to keep is a dramatic reconfiguration of business travel. I think it's one of the interesting things certainly for us as academics is, but but my guess is for other people that were sort of unnecessarily flying around the world on somebody else's purse, a recognition that actually not all of that is necessary. And if you could make a massive dent in the total amount of travel that people are doing for business, then I think that would be good for the climate, it would probably be good for people's family lives as well. And I think we could probably learn to compensate in other ways and keep travel for the times that we are Do actually really benefit from

Vivienne Parry  42:01  
it didn't?

Deenan Pillay  42:03  
Well following on from those two excellent magic wand ideas, an amalgam of those really, I think the the challenge, of course, for us all in the long term, and I'm talking about three to five years and longer is, of course, climate change. That's the biggest, biggest threat to our existence. And the question is what have we learned from COVID that will help us with that, both direct climate change, or some of the globalisation that contributes to climate have been involved in the origin of of COVID as Mark mentioned, beginning in terms of movement of, you know, import export of wild animals, but I think underpinning that I would like to think that for those societies Include the UK in them, which have because of the political, because of the politics of the last maybe 1015 years, where people have become more individualistic where there's been increasing inequality. And we can't forget inequality within countries as well as around the world, then a feeling of an understanding of a more collective spirit that underpins a politics where economically, we don't see growth in the way that this has been defined narrowly narrowly in terms of economic economics, but growth can assimilate other aspects of, of sustainability. And I would really like to imagine that that out of this will come a new sense of of collective benefits and sustainability.

Vivienne Parry  43:54  
Well, thank you all for that. I think it's been a fascinating discussion, and I I hope our audience will agree. You've been listening to an episode of Coronavirus The Whole Story brought to you by UCL Minds in a special edition for Cheltenham Science Festivals at home event. This episode was presented by myself Vivienne Parry produced by UCL with support for the UCL Health of the Public and UCL Grand Challenges and edited by the splendid Cerys Bradley. Our guests today were Professor Mark Maslin, Dr Jack Stilgoe, and Professor Deenan Pillay. If you've enjoyed this podcast, and indeed the rest of the Cheltenham science programme, we'd be so grateful if you'd consider making a donation at crowdfunder.co.uk forward slash (get your pencils out) cheltscifestathome which will allow Cheltenham festivals to continue their work with schools and communities. very much looking forward to seeing you all in person next year. Thank you. Bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai