Photo Credit: From left to right: Don’t Look up / PNG -KEVIN LIGHT / Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up, It’s All Around Us, Say Scientists

Don't Look Up is worth a watch

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The critics are lukewarm, but scientists love it

Have you watched the film Don’t Look Up?

If not, it’s worth making a bowl of popcorn for the two-hour commitment despite what movie critics are saying.

It’s currently ranked #8 in Canada on Netflix so a lot of your friends and neighbours have watched it.

Here’s the plot in a nutshell.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a socially awkward astronomer who tries to publicize an alarming discovery by one of his grad students, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence’s character finds a massive planet-destroying comet heading directly towards earth. They calculate the comet’s orbit and find the probability of a life-on-earth-destroying impact at 99.7%.

But when they deliver the message to the Oval Office, Meryl Streep, as President, doesn’t seem to care. Her primary focus is how to spin it for political gain.

The President and her staff have a hilarious discussion about how the earth’s destruction is not 100% certain. Later, when they try to spread the word of the pending destruction on talk shows, the scientists are laughed at and made fun of for speaking the truth.

The satire is one part comedy and two parts damning critique of our current society. The film mocks how science is ignored to promote commercial and political ends or religious beliefs.

Don’t Look Up hits our TV screens just when “alternative facts,” propaganda, and lies have replaced truth, facts, and research.

Hence the title, Don’t Look Up. Because if you do and take the time to look at the evidence, whatever fantasy you believe in will quickly fall apart. Members of the Flat Earth Society take note.

That’s why it’s no surprise that Don’t Look Up is popular with scientists, activists, and anyone who has run up against a wall of science-denying absurdity.

In a recent post on LinkedIn, fish biologist Alexandra Morton wrote that the film is “not a comedy” for her.

“It depicts the government insanity I encountered for decades. The most ridiculous was when the late Stan Hagen [BC Liberal Minister of Agriculture and Lands under Premier Gordon Campbell] refused to look at a map of the Broughton [Archipelago] and see that there was no way wild salmon could reach the ocean without passing close to a salmon farm. He kept repeating, ‘That is your opinion’… It was not an opinion, it was fact,” Morton says.

California-based climate scientist Peter Kalmus seconded Morton’s view. He called Don’t Look Up “the most accurate film about society’s terrifying non-response to climate breakdown” he’s ever seen in a recent opinion piece for the Guardian.

Pick any topic close to home here in BC. 

For example, Premier John Horgan’s head-in-the-sand response to the ongoing destruction of rare old-growth forests

Or the BC NDP’s decision to fudge its climate targets to make itself look good.

Or Dr. Bonnie Henry keeping important COVID data from the public.

Or Victoria ignoring their own scientists who warned more than a decade ago that BC’s flood forecasting capacity sucks… the list goes on.

DiCaprio’s climate change activism is no secret. It means the film is a bit of a blunt instrument. It’s meant to hit you in the face, which means it’s easy for fancy film critics to hate it.

But sometimes, you have to fight a world that can be stupid and blunt with something that’s smart and blunt.

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