By Pam McVety, climate activist
There is a large comet headed toward Earth with a 99.7% probability that it will be a direct hit in six months. The scientists call it a “planet killer.”
The President is happy to hear that it isn’t 100% certain that it will hit the planet and wants the scientists to “sit still and assess.” The public is unconcerned and ignores the warning. The comet hits and the planet is destroyed. This is the story line in a new movie: “Don’t Look Up.”
It’s a perfect name because if you don’t look up or do anything about the impending disaster, it won’t happen, right? The movie scientists warn everybody on national television and in the press.
For a short period, it looks like our government will take steps to blow up the comet, but then a wealthy businessman points out all the valuable materials in the comet and at the last minute the rocket that would have blown up the comet is diverted. It’s that “money thing” taking precedent over the survival of the planet.
Does this sound familiar? It should, because this is a satire about our failure to address the climate crisis. It is likely that the warming climate will make the Earth uninhabitable for humans and most other living creatures.
Scientists have been warning us for years. But, the “money thing” keeps us from acting, whether it is the fossil fuel industry largesse to politicians or the money to be made off fossil fuel stocks. We like it and keep supporting the industry.
Climate fueled disasters are regularly in the press from monster tornadoes in the Midwest to Dante’s inferno in the West. Flooded streets, businesses and homes are an accepted new norm in Florida.
If it is too hot, we turn up the AC ignoring the danger it poses to outdoor workers. In the South, warm December temperatures and high humidity are accepted.
A majority of Republican members of Congress still treat climate change like it’s a hoax and block every action to address it. Even President Joe Biden isn’t taking all the steps needed to stop the crisis.
World leaders met at COP26 in December and agreed that climate change is an existential threat. But they couldn’t agree to transition off fossil fuels in time to keep the global temperature from rising to dangerous levels. Absurdly, the largest delegation to COP26 was the fossil fuel industry.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in 2021 making it illegal for local governments to ban the use of fossil fuels in their communities. You would think that this would be enough to throw him out of office, but Floridians are ignoring even this destructive step.
In the movie, the scientist screams on national TV, “Are we not being clear? We’re all 100% for sure gonna fucking die!”
The desperation felt by the cinema scientist is how scientists and climate activists feel about the world’s response to the climate crisis. The response of the movie president, portrayed by Meryl Streep, to the comet was a great parody of what our elected officials look like.
They look ridiculous, irresponsible and dangerous. They look like selfish fools who should be arrested and thrown in prison for endangering us all, or at least removed from office.
The world we live in isn’t a movie. It’s real life. It is our reality. Our leaders, including DeSantis, are not dealing with reality. Our world is breaking down and it is far faster than scientists predicted.
At the end of the movie, the scientists participate in a last supper with their family as the planet is engulfed in a fire ball. In the Bible, the last supper is followed by the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection.
And in the movie, the actors dusted themselves off and returned to their dressing rooms. For us there is no second chance and our situation is not a movie. We are finished, unless we mobilize quickly and shoot our climate comet into a million pieces.
Pam McVety is a retired state scientist and climate activist.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.