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Don't look up: it took McKay's chaos to put climate change in order

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By Marco Scipolo

· 3 min read

Brilliant, absurd, demented and brutally true. One could summarize in this series of adjectives "Don't look up", the new film by Adam McKay, director of the recent and unusual interpretation regarding climate change and the role that modern society plays in it.

Be careful, from now on expect some spoilers: in summary, a couple of astronomers (Leonardo di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence) realizes the existence of a comet on its collision course with planet Earth. The two scientists try to promptly warn the earth population in an attempt to find a solution, but they immediately encounter a crazy opposition by a grotesque society, sadly familiar, made of futile discorses, political immobility, greed and conspiracy.

Between one bitter laugh and another, the film lists the stratagems employed by the protagonists to communicate the imminent catastrophe and the bizarre obstacles placed in their way, especially by politics and the media.

According to some, the film perfectly describes the pandemic crisis of the last two years; but according to my interpretation (and not only mine) the hurling of the celestial body would represent the dramatic climate changes taking place and the indifference to the scientists’ warnings embodies the indifference which we all, more or less, show in recent years. It is as if our society, so often solicited by threats, were no longer paying attention to them, cultivating an illusory hope that somehow "everything will be fixed" or that the disaster will affect those who will come after us.

The "insane" irony with which the film is imbued is the vehicle, the Pindaric flight that deceives us into thinking we can get off the rails but that in reality knows exactly how to terrorize us. And the more we descend into the abyss, the more we become aware of the pettiness that human indifference can reach, the more we become frightened, trying to convince ourselves that in reality it couldn't really be like that. Yet, it is precisely in this instant of cognitive interruption, of blackout, that the film insinuates itself and annoys our consciences.

The stage chosen by the director for his portrayal is the United States, the scapegoat of corrupt politics (more interested in improbable government appointments and sex scandals than in the risk of the end of the world), of television channels (where one only has to smile and give space to gossip) and of the millionaire tycoons of the hi-tech world. The grotesque parody that McKay stages is then filled with TV programs, tweets, reactions on social networks, opinions in the mouths of false experts, popularity polls, theories and scientific calculations that have not been verified, to the point of being filled with a demeaning politics, attentive only to safeguard its facade and manage its communication strategy in an impeccable manner for the eyes of the public.

In the battle between the supporters of “Don't look up” and “Look up”, behind the dusty cloud, there is us, the spectators, still and incredulous, because we would like to ask ourselves, for a moment, an absurd question: but if some shocking and terrible news does not generate enough reactions on social networks or is not understood, does that piece of news really exist? And again: to what extent am I willing to fight for some news in order for it to exist and be accepted?

Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Marco Scipolo is a sustainability consultant at Lundquist. He is a member of CSRnatives - the first Italian network of young sustainability addicts

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