In a statement issued by the University of Michigan, Jeremy Bassis, a geophysicist studying how ice sheets and glaciers respond to climate change, said that ‘Don’t Look Up’ is an obvious metaphor for climate and the collective lack of action by humans.
He said that scientists do not have to wait for national or international agreements, and can instead work with local communities to develop mitigation plans and adaptation plans to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.
Julia Cole, an interdisciplinary paleoenvironmental scientist, said that in the movie, even a looming planetary catastrophe, which is an incoming comet guaranteed to strike Earth, is not enough to overcome the short-term interests of politicians, the media and greed.
Cole said that there is still hope with climate change, unlike the movie. This is because scientists know how to fix the problem.
Fires, floods, storms, heat waves are the climate disasters of the past year which have made it crystal clear that climate change is no longer a future risk, she said.
It is a multi-prolonged catastrophe that demands global action, and it is past time to get serious about cutting out fossil fuels, she added.
Cole said though lessons of the movie for climate change are not new, they remind everyone of a few key points. For instance, science is unequivocal, so we believe it. Also, proven technologies such as renewable energy and efficiencies can get us a long way, as we continue to innovate, she explained.
Jonathan Overpeck, an interdisciplinary climate scientist, who is an expert on the impacts of climate change, said the movie is a funny one to watch, but the messages are deadly serious. He said climate change is a planetary threat that we must quickly act to halt.
He explained that although climate change does not threaten to wipe out all life on the planet, it certainly threatens many lives, livelihoods, economies, communities, and global biodiversity in very real ways.
He explained that waiting to act to solve a planetary crisis like climate change can greatly increase the costs to all humans.
The movie highlights how politicians, political beliefs, special interests, and some media outlets actively try to divert regular people from gaining critical scientific information, he said.
According to Overpeck, ignoring science can put individuals, communities, and even a whole planet at serious peril.
Pat Seitzer, research professor emeritus, said the movie deals with a very serious threat to Earth — the impact of an asteroid of the size that killed the dinosaurs.
He said there is a real NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and that he hopes the real response to such a threat will be different from what was shown in the movie.
He said the observing technique of taking multiple pictures of the comet over time and working out the orbit, shown in the movie, was correct, according to the statement.