‘Don’t Look Up’: We have 11 years to fight climate change


Jolie Asuncion

Climate change graphic by Jolie Asuncion.

Humanity has 11 years to cut carbon emissions and adopt sustainable practices before we see irreversible damage from climate change. Activists and scientists are so desperate for people to understand the urgency of the situation that it has become fatal.

Climate activist Wynn Bruce, of Boulder, Colorado, lit himself on fire outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. on Earth Day 2022. 

Bruce aimed to raise awareness for climate change and protest the lack of political action taken. He passed away the day after as a result of his act of martyrdom.

It’s not uncommon for the public to disregard scientists when they report something people don’t like — or find uncomfortable. Galileo was persecuted for his claim that the Earth and planets revolve around the sun before eventually being proven right. 

Most troubling, however, is our inability to accept climate change. This time the consequences could mean the demise of our planet and the extinction of human life.

The reality is, science backs up climate change. The proof is overwhelming and it is clearly happening. So, why are experts and activists continuing to be overlooked? Part of it is that humans naturally want to ignore bad news. Another factor is that people are more fascinated by entertainment and celebrities than science. It is more beneficial to our mental health to focus on what our favorite actors and influencers are up to. Science reveals reality, and reality is not always positive.

This is highlighted in the 2021 Netflix comedy, “Don’t Look Up.” Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a climate professor struggling to get people to listen after his team discovers a catastrophic asteroid on course for Earth. Instead, the public audience focuses on the romance between fictitious celebrities played by Ariana Grande and Scott Mescudi, professionally known as Kid Cudi. This film is an allegory for climate change, but it’s no longer satire — it feels like real life.

Climate change has and will continue to cause an increase in dangerously high temperatures, intense and prolonged drought, more severe storms and rising sea levels. While these sound terrifying on their own, the effects are even grimmer.

If these climate catastrophes happen, massive extinctions will occur, food shortages will continue, poverty will increase and the likelihood of another pandemic will grow. This isn’t new knowledge. In fact, 19th-century scientists wrote of climate change

Scientists have shouted about the dangers of climate change for years, but no one listens. It has become a politicized discussion that you can’t mention during your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, or else the room fills with an awkward weight. 

During an episode of “Good Morning Britain,” student and campaigner Miranda Whelehan attempted to explain Just Stop Oil, a coalition group that strives to halt new fossil fuel licensing and production. Throughout the interview, Whelehan was constantly dismissed and the topic she was trying to discuss was being made light of. 

This perfectly parallels a scene in “Don’t Look Up” where the astronomers, played by DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawerence, practically scream the dangers of the incoming asteroid, just to be ignored for celebrity gossip and punchy dialogue between the show’s hosts.

‘Don’t Look Up’ real life parallels with activist Miranda Whelehan on ‘Good Morning Britian’

Whelehan reflects on this experience in an article she wrote for The Guardian. The interview shifts from her trying to raise awareness about the dangers of oil exploration and climate change, and turns into what she calls a parody. The interviewers even called the group’s slogan “childish.”

“The worst part is that these presenters and journalists think they know better than chief scientists or academics who have been studying the climate crisis for decades, and they refuse to hear otherwise. It is willful blindness and it is going to kill us.”

Miranda Whelehan for The Guardian

“The worst part is that these presenters and journalists think they know better than chief scientists or academics who have been studying the climate crisis for decades, and they refuse to hear otherwise,” she writes. “It is willful blindness and it is going to kill us.”

Whether you believe climate change is purely humanity’s fault, a natural cycle of Earth’s climate or a mixture of both, there are ways to slow it down. Humanity will still be around when the effects of climate change hit so it is essential to prolong getting to the point of no return.

Ways you can help fight climate change every day include:

  • Reduce food and water waste
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Switch to LED bulbs
  • Walk, bike or use public transport when you can
  • Use your voice, lobby for change by speaking with local representatives

Carrington Power can be reached at [email protected].