Don’t Look Down…at Science
I’ve been thinking about doomsday quite a bit lately. I know that sounds dark, and well, to be perfectly blunt, it is. But maybe the destruction of our planet isn’t supposed to be light and fun. Or as Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Kate Dibiasky puts it in Don’t Look Up, “Maybe the destruction of the entire planet isn’t supposed to be fun. Maybe it’s supposed be terrifying and unsettling. And you should stay up all night, every night, crying when we’re all 100% for sure going to fucking die!” And while some of you will scoff at my opening sentence and Dibiasky’s seeming hysteria, both of us are talking in facts, not unsubstantiated fiction. In fact, if any of what I have yet to say is anything but unmitigated truth for you, it is you who have put the blinders on consciously or not, the very blinders that will ironically be the impetus of our own demise.
What Don’t Look Up does so brilliantly is satirize how we have devolved into a society that no longer understands, recognizes, or follows basic elements of science. Yeah, do you remember the cultural progress achieved during the Enlightenment? Scientific discovery, philosophical inquiry, political revolution. Yeah, fuck all that because we no longer value any of it. While Don’t Look Up is certainly a metaphor for the impending doom of climate change, the underpinning denial, the sheer willful refusal to listen to scientists who perform painstaking research to understand the laws that govern the physical universe and then present those insights to the rest of humankind is almost universal in its scope and could be applied to a host of topics we no longer give two shits to hear the truth about.
Yes, climate change is right there front and center. 99% of climate scientists have been telling us for decades that we are pressing ever closer to the proverbial tipping point of irreparably harming our planet, but our rate of detrimental environmental impacts continue to outpace any meaningful measures of environmental stewardship. Why? Because we would rather listen to the 1% of climate science deniers who, lo and behold, actually get their funding from the petroleum industry. Our willful denial is absolutely mind-numbing, especially when the consequences are our own assured mutual annihilation. And even as Mother Nature continues to give us a swift crack to the head to remind us of this with every ravaging fire, hurricane, tornado, dust cyclone and God knows what else it sends our way, all in exact alignment with the forecasting models predicted by the scientists we have chosen to dismiss, we continue to thumb our noses at those who actually study this stuff for a living.
And of course the same goes for scientists and researchers in the medical field. Listen, I am not the smartest guy on the planet, but one thing I am smart enough to know is to listen to people who are smarter than me, especially when they spend much of their waking hours devoted to research in a given field. But somewhere along the line, many of us out their decided to say, “Screw listening to an actual epidemiologist. I’m doing my own research.” Research which, of course, constituted reading a couple of articles their friend sent them on Facebook. Shoot, during the course of this Coronavirus pandemic, we have actually had people consume hydrochloroquine and horse dewormer as a curative treatment for covid, all based on the advice of a president who was caught on tape acknowledging to Rob Woodward that he lied to the American people about the severity of the disease right from the beginning and a dude whose claim to fame is being the host of Fear Factor. Yeah, when you take your medical advice from Donald Trump and Joe Rogan over Dr. Anthony Fauci, you have bought yourself a one-way ticket on the crazy train to the ICU. Because these are the same folks, of course, who now refuse to get the vaccine because they don’t trust what scientists have put into it. Yeah, you know what the worst thing they could put in it is? Hydrocholorquine and horse dewormer, you f’ing idiot. But now these are the same folks clogging up hospital beds in emergency rooms across the nation, all because they thought they knew more than epidemiologists, but now want to rely on those same scientists to save their lives, even though it may now be too late.
I recently read a review of Don’t Look Up on Roger Ebert’s website. First of all, as a complete sidenote, how morbid is it that hack film critics with no notoriety of their own somehow posthumously publish their crap under his name when he died almost a decade ago? That’s just plain messed up. In any case, this one was written by some dingleberry named Nick Allen. I say dingleberry, first because that word is just plain funny and one should avail themselves of any opportunity they have to use it, but more importantly because in panning the movie, Allen suggests, “Don’t Look Up thinks it’s pushing many savvy political buttons, when it’s only pointing out the obvious and the easy, over and over.” Uh ok there Nick, you might be right in your little social circle of college-educated thinkers who actually get the devastating impact anti-intellectualism is having on the global community, but clearly the rest of the world needs some sort of kick in the ass to get them to see it, and perhaps this movie is it. If our absurdist denial of climate change and other scientific facts was just so “obvious”, we wouldn’t have quite the difficulty getting the ignorant on board with actually doing something, now would we?
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com