Entertaining, horrifying, depressing.  Those are the terms I would use to describe the statement film “Don’t Look Up” directed by Adam McKay, starring an ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio & Jennifer Lawrence.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil things too much, but the basic storyline is that there is a comet headed straight for Earth, discovered by budding astrologist Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence).  She and her superior, Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) try to warn everyone in any way they can but snarky, clueless media types and a donor-owned presidential administration don’t seem to be willing to grasp the fact that there are actual problems in the world that need solving.  Couple that with catchy hashtag trends that tend to grab self-satisfying attention and use it for their own populist-wielding nothingness.

Many people who saw the movie compare the comet to COVID, while others seem to compare the comet to climate change.  The fact that a problem of this magnitude can be applied to more than one current crisis is in itself pretty grim.  But (dismally) arguments can be made for both.  COVID began as a relatively small initial outbreak that was ignored, was the topic of narrative spin, and became a huge global problem before anyone realized what was even happening.  Did we have the know-how to stop COVID before it became a global pandemic?  Yes.  Did we totally fail to act and contain it?  Pretty much.  At the time of the breakout, I don’t think a majority of the planet, or its world leaders, imagined that things can get seriously awful very quickly.  Two years later- TWO YEARS- and we are still seeing virus spikes and wearing masks in public.  Will COVID ever be eradicated?  Who knows, but thankfully the vaccines seem to be staving off at least the worst of what this virus has to offer.

On the other hand climate change is a problem we have less of a hold of, and its effects will be way more severe.  Year after year, it has been a topic inspiring impassioned pleas at each subsequent Conference of Parties, without meaningful action to follow.  The latest of these meetings, #COP26, resulted in a mix of bold remedies and sedated indifference.  Not exactly where you want to be when the TIME magazine cover just before the event looked like this:

      TIME magazine pre-COP26 cover climate change

      Photo credit: TIME

      They didn’t mince words, but world leaders apparently did. 

      It’s not just the actual issue comparisons that I thought merited some attention in this commentary, it’s also the cartoonish immaturity and head-in-the-sand approach plaguing people with power and influence in our society.  Jonah Hill plays the son of the corrupt President of the United States, and serves as a close White House advisor (because of course).  He is portrayed as a nepotism-buoyed buffoon who consistently changes serious conversational subjects to shallow irrelevant quips that land better in his comfort zone.  News anchor Brie Evantee (Cate Blanchett) and her morning show co-star Jack Bremmer (Tyler Perry) are much the same way, preferring wise cracks to substantive discussion about a comet that could potentially destroy the planet.  Come on, people.

        Read Also:

        Corporate sustainability. How do you score?

        Photo credit: Lok Yiu Cheung

        In reality, we have the tools to solve both problems.  For COVID: masks, vaccines, social distancing indoors, and isolate if you test positive- because a virus dies when it runs out of hosts.  Could you imagine if the US had done a better job keeping a cap on the cases numbers & instead of having over 222,000 cases per million people, we only had 10 like New Zealand? 

        For climate: sustainable measures, clean energy, regenerative farming, waste reduction, carbon capture, natural sequestration, stewardship…. there are many.  But, in order to take on world problems, we as a society must be able to face them without sugar-coating the gravity of them.  If we don’t, we will be doing ourselves and future generations a disservice by not being honest about the basic facts of the problem.  Because if we aren’t honest, we can’t fix it.  Although our reality isn’t as ridiculous as this comedic spoof, we occasionally come very close to the worst characteristics this movie not-so-subtly warns against.  Let’s choose solutions, not hashtags.


        Main photo credit Shlomo Shalev @unsplash

        This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best user-experience possible.