On Climate Crises and Don’t Look Up

Netflix shares some conversations had with scientists regarding their opinions on ‘Don’t Look Up’

Don’t Look Up is what you get when an ‘Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Idiocracy’ bore a mockumentary call to action movie, where everyone went about business as usual, and absolutely nobody did much to stop it. 

Directed by Adam McKay, this fictional comedy about a comet on a collision course with Earth stars Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, who play two astronomers that go on a media tour to warn humankind of a planet-killing comet hurtling toward Earth – only to be mostly ignored. In the weeks since it’s Dec. 24 release on Netflix, ‘Don’t Look Up’ has inspired some very serious discussions around climate change — and the need for action.

“It’s a cautionary tale about the climate crisis stitched together by McKay’s signature biting humor. That’s the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down,” Dr. Michael E. Mann, an atmospheric science professor, author, and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, wrote in an op-ed for The Boston Globe

In an essay for Forbes, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program praised the film as “a layered commentary on the climate crisis, denialism, and the lack of action on a looming problem.”

Clearly, Don’t Look Up breached an important subject for discussion for many climate researchers and psychologists. A lot of who had projected a lot of their own sentiments regarding climate change and the need for change in the film’s main characters Dr. Randall Mindy (DiCaprio) and Kate Dibiasky (Lawrence). 

Dr. Michael Svoboda, an assistant professor of writing at George Washington University, went one step further in a story for Yale Climate Connections: “Don’t Look Up has quickly become something of a cultural phenomenon, already eclipsing The Day After Tomorrow as the most influential fictional film ‘about’ climate change.”

Mexican-Chilean youth climate activist and Fridays for Future organizer Xiye Bastida, who sits on Netflix’s independent advisory group of sustainability experts, hopes the film inspires audiences to take action.

Unlike the film, it’s not too late to change course, as climate psychologists Dr. Barbara Hofer and Dr. Gale Sinatra recently wrote in a piece for The Conversation. “The most important difference between the film’s premise and humanity’s actual looming crisis is that while individuals may be powerless against a comet, everyone can act decisively to stop fueling climate change.” 

For those looking to do just that, Don’t Look Up and non-profit Count Us In recently launched a climate microsite that provides more information about the climate crisis and meaningful steps we can all take towards a safer planet. Visit count-us-in.com/dontlookup for more information.


Christian Angeles
Christian Angeles
Christian Angeles is a screenwriter who likes sharing stories and getting to meet people. He also listens to words on the page via audible and tries to write in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone.

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