Don’t Look Up is a critically acclaimed movie with an all star cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, and Meryl Streep. It is up for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It follows a team of scientists, after discovering an extinction-level asteroid heading towards earth, and their anguish and despair trying to convince the public and the U.S. government of it’s imminent danger. It is equal parts heart-wrenching and eye-opening. The movie itself is a clear metaphor for the way the government and society has been handling climate change, and the unfortunate way the government is affected by capitalism. It is a highly important movie to watch, not only for its poignancy but its excellent portrayal of emotions like despair and anger experienced by the scientists that show how people today feel about the government’s response to climate change.
The big conflict of the movie is not, as one would suspect, about finding a solution for the asteroid. It’s convincing people that it actually exists. It’s convincing the government to do something about it. And the scariest thing about this is we can see that happening right now with climate change. Still so many people are reluctant to accept the fate they brought upon themselves. The government is still unwilling to help, the previous administration even backed out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Nobody likes to be afraid, we avoid things in our life that scare us like public speaking or heights. But when it is a matter of life or death, you have to be scared. In the movie, it’s an asteroid. For us, it’s climate change. In the movie, it’s eight months. For us, it’s 28 years. Where do you see yourself in 28 years? Probably not battling extreme weather and rioting over scarce food and water. In 28 years, climate change will be irreversible. Why are you not afraid? To make sure that this is not the way the human race and most life on earth goes extinct, we need to reduce carbon emissions by 45% in eight years, and be carbon-neutral by 2050. We can already see what climate change is doing to our earth, especially during the summer in Oregon: the massive heat dome and horrifying wildfires. In other parts of the United States, the enormous blizzard in Texas that killed at least 58 people.
Are you scared now?
Somehow, over time, wanting to end climate change has become a political stance. Even believing in it is a political stance. I have no clue why having an interest in the survival of our species and many others is now considered as being of one political party or another. When it comes down to something that, at its core, is about whether we live or die, there should be no deliberating, no hemming and hawing. And to have someone leading our country to deny it? To ridicule the people who have seen this threat looming for decades? Everyone knows what happens when you ignore something. It’s not going to go away if we pretend it isn’t happening, and to have someone representing us for four years who did just that is perhaps one of the worst blows to our progress yet.
The final reason I think you should watch Don’t Look Up is that it helps convey that one person can do almost nothing. Even one government. The meteorite is not going to go away if you call your congressman or recycle. Climate change will not go away because you take cold showers and use a linen grocery bag. We have created a problem that we alone cannot solve. This is in the hands of the enormous corporations and the government that lets them get away with whatever they want just for money. A singular person is not going to solve this problem, nor a single community, state, or even country. The fight to end climate change will have to be on a global scale. It will affect everyone, no matter if you live on and off the grid eco home or spend your free time starting wildfires. So the thing for us to do is to get educated, learn why we got here and what the world can do about it. And you should get scared. Of what this world may look like in 28 years.