Don’t Look Up…Or Do?


Imagine you discover a comet headed directly towards Earth except when you try to warn mankind, nobody is listening. The new film ‘Don’t Look Up’ challenges society to ponder their default response to a climate crisis. It is a satirical science fiction film written, directed, and produced by Adam McKay. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers attempting to warn humanity about an approaching extinction-level comet set on a path headed directly towards Earth. The cast features a variety of actors alongside DiCaprio and Lawrence, such as well-known actors Cate Blanchett, Ariana Grande, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep. The plot is an allegory for climate change, making a point to highlight how politics and the media often distract us from one of the Earth’s largest threats: climate change. 

The climate change crisis has never needed more urgent action. According to NASA, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen roughly 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1.18 degrees Celsius) just in the late 19th century and is continuously increasing now. This is why the people of ‘Don’t Look Up’ have begun to take action. On December 29, 2021, DiCaprio announced a partnership with an organization known as Count Us In. Count Us In is an organization working to build a community of people taking action to reduce their environmental impacts. “Ready to stop freaking out and start doing something?” the partnership’s website reads. “So there’s no comet. But the climate crisis is hurtling towards us. And you can have a hand in solving it with simple steps like these.” The website then goes on to list twelve steps people can follow to begin protecting our planet. 

Opinions on the new Netflix film differ. Cast member Leonardo DiCaprio called it “an analogy of modern-day culture and our inability to hear and listen to scientific truth.” Other viewers of the film had similar thoughts. Avery Estrella, a ninth-grader at San Marcos High School said, “I felt that the film was an incredibly real look into what could very much be our future.” 

The meaning of ‘Don’t Look Up’ is the same message that climate scientists have been trying to tell the public for decades. Whether you enjoyed the movie or even disagreed with the message, the message was still received. We cannot ignore the climate crisis at hand. Society shouldn’t need a comet with an agenda of complete extinction of humanity hurtling towards Earth to make us stop and take notice of how our actions affect our surroundings.

Illustration by Baylie Bingham