Are you optimistic or pessimistic about humanity’s future?
I have always tried to be a realist.
What is your reaction when you see the news coming out of Syria?
Syria is an excellent, as well as abominable and frightening, example of what happens when the systems of global governance don’t work. If the UN had functioned as intended, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared and the suffering of millions would have been avoided in Syria alone.
In other words, the news from Syria strengthens my conviction that no society can work well without a political leadership that has the good of the whole people in mind, and not only has a mandate to make decisions, but also an ability to enforce them. This of course also applies to the global community.
What do you have to say about the fact that Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States?
First: It was surprising that the US, with all of its great talents, only had these two presidential candidates to choose from. It was even more surprising that Trump, who is clearly unsuited for the job, was elected president. The American electoral system should be reviewed. In general, you could say that any system that allows paid advertising for candidates of different financial means weakens democracy. In practice, it is almost the same as allowing the buying of votes.
Second: Trump will doubtless not be allowed to implement all of his poorly thought through plans. But unfortunately he will, quite probably, prevent or delay important decisions and measures in regards to climate change. In a worst-case scenario, this could prove fatal for humanity. He should be able to realise that no wall can protect the US from climate effects.
For my children's sake and that of further generations, I hope that our work will not be completely in vain.
Do you have children, grandchildren? How do you feel about the world they will live in as this century unfolds?
Yes, I have both children and grandchildren, and even two lovely great-grandchildren. Naturally, I feel very worried about what conditions they will live in towards the end of this century. For their sake and that of further generations, I hope that our work will not be completely in vain.