Environmental Science

‘Don’t Look Up’ Hollywood’s Primer on Climate Denial Illustrates five Myths That Fuel Rejection of Science

‘Don’t Look Up’ Hollywood’s Primer on Climate Denial Illustrates five Myths That Fuel Rejection of Science

Every disaster film begins with a scientist being dismissed. “Don’t Look Up” is no exception; in fact, the premise is that people ignore or even refuse scientific facts. Astronomers played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence make a literally Earth-shattering discovery and then strive to urge the president to take action to save civilization. A satire looks at how people, scientists, the media, and politicians react when confronted with scientific findings that are unsettling, dangerous, or inconvenient.

The film is an allegory for climate change, depicting how those in positions of power refuse to act on global warming and how those with entrenched interests can deceive the public. However, it also represents broader science rejection, such as what the world has seen with COVID-19. While individuals may be powerless against a comet, everyone can act aggressively to cease causing climate change, which is the most significant contrast between the film’s concept and humanity’s actual oncoming disaster.

It can assist to be aware of the beliefs that fuel science rejection. We recognize these features of science denial all too well as research psychologists and authors of “Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to do about it.”

“So how certain is this?” President Orlean (Meryl Streep) questions the scientists after they reveal that a comet is on its way to collide with Earth. When the president’s chief of staff (Jonah Hill) learns that the certitude is 99.78 percent, he is relieved: “Oh fantastic, so it is not 100 percent!” “Scientists seldom like to claim 100 percent,” says government scientist Teddy Oglethorpe (Rob Morgan). Science’s hesitation to promise 100 percent certainty is one of its strengths. Even all the data points in one direction, scientists continue to look for new information. At the same time, they recognize and act on overwhelming evidence.

The evidence is overwhelming and has been for many years that the Earth’s climate is changing in harmful because of human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. It is typically a kind of scientific denial when politicians take a “wait and see” approach to climate change (or “sit tight and assess,” as the movie puts it), implying that more information is needed before taking action.

“Don’t Look Up,” the title phrase, depicts this psychological assumption and how some politicians utilize it as a handy excuse for inaction while pushing their own interests, Climate change anxiety is an increasing and sensible psychological response. According to research, there are ways people may employ effectively coping with climate anxiety, such as being more informed and talking to others about the issue. This allows people to manage their anxiety while also taking steps to reduce their risks. According to research conducted in 2021, 80% of people are willing to adjust how they live and work to help mitigate the effects of climate change.