At the invitation of Marcelo Lima, a street cinema enthusiast who had the courage to reopen the old Cinearte, in Conjunto Nacional, in the midst of a pandemic, I went to watch the cinema premiere of “No Look Up”, a satire written and directed by Adam McKay, which will be released on the Netflix streaming platform on Christmas Eve. for the general public, showing in a dramatic and amusing tone how scientific denial and promiscuity between public authorities and the private sector can affect the future of the planet.
A doctoral student in astronomy, interpreted by Jennifer Laurence, while monitoring supernovae, visualizes the tail of a giant comet, 100 kilometers in diameter. His advisor, an astronomer starring Leonardo DiCaprio, discovers that the comet was on a collision course with Earth.
If nothing was done, in six months it would crash into the Pacific Ocean, causing tsunamis from 1.5 kilometers in height, earthquakes from to 15 degrees on the Richter scale and the complete destruction of life on the planet. 66 Millions of years ago, an asteroid collided with the planet, extinguishing dinosaurs and many other living beings.
Science fiction of catastrophe genre, between a satire and a comedy, the film uses an occurrence that is practically impossible to happen (according to Amy Mainzer, from NASA, a phenomenon like this only happens once every 66 millions of years) to warn about the neglect of climate emergencies and other environmental disasters.
(Spoilers to follow)
In the film, despite the discovery having been reviewed and confirmed by other scientists, including NASA’s planetary defense coordinator, US President Meryl Streep does not give much thought to the possible catastrophe, as some presidents did in relation to Covid. After all, as the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro (PL), said, everyone will die someday!
In the press, the discovery is treated with discredit, with journalists doubting the gravity of the situation. The public prefers celebrity amenities to believe that the Earth could be destroyed in six months.
But the president, realizing that a media action could improve her weak popularity, decides to act. Set up a mega-operation to divert the comet’s course, using rockets and astronauts, a solution recommended by scientists. rich in the world, convinces the president to interrupt her, as she discovers that the comet has very valuable ores. It proposes to disintegrate it when it gets closer to Earth, to appropriate its wealth.
The proposal, developed by the company with the support of a few scientists, is not peer-reviewed, but is advertised by a strong media campaign, which convinces many. The parents of a young scientist who denounces the fragility of this operation refuse to welcome her at home, arguing that she is harming the country, as she is against the creation of jobs and the generation of wealth.
When the comet is visible to the naked eye in the sky, society is divided between those who believe in imminent risk and deniers, who are seduced by the marketing motto of the private operation (“Don’t Look Up”, as in the title of the film ), recommend “looking down”, denying the scientific evidence.
The operation fails and life as we know it on Earth is destroyed.
The satire is exaggerated, it has a ragged humor and caricatures the characters, but warns of a catastrophe that will not occur in six months, nor overnight, in a single extreme event, but is happening every month, in different places on the planet.
The movie’s message is obvious (too obvious) and is related to the denial of scientific evidence, ap the relevance of private interests over public power and the greed of capitalism that has no limits when it sees a good business opportunity.
As McKay stated, when radicalizing an occurrence, the film alerts to concrete issues. Just read the weekend news, with the floods in the south of Bahia and the more than 30 tornadoes that devastated five American states, to see which parts of the planet they are being gradually destroyed.
Watching the film, I remembered the disaster that the company Salgema, currently owned by Braskem, caused in Maceió (AL), in the biggest urban environmental tragedy in Brazil .
In the decade of 100, large amounts of rock salt were found underground in the urban area of the municipality and in 1976, the company started digging mines in the region, about a thousand meters deep with the consent of the local authorities. At the time, geologists warned of the risk of the operation, but they were not taken seriously, being considered enemies of progress.
After three decades of underground exploration, the buildings in five neighborhoods began to crack and , in 2016, the city suffered an earthquake-like aftershock. A few months later, the Brazilian Geological Survey confirmed that the 30 Braskem mines had destabilized the soil of a densely populated urban area, which needed to be cleared because it put dozens of people at risk of thousands of residents.
About 15 thousand homes were closed, causing the forced removal of 30 One thousand people. The neighborhoods of Pinheiro, Mutange, Bom Parto, Bebedouro and part of Farol became a ghost town, with dozens of closed streets.
Thousands of buildings, including houses, housing projects and vertical buildings, which were in use until three years ago, are abandoned and in ruins.
Fair Bluff, a small town in North Carolina (USA), suffers a similar process. Hit by hurricane Matthew, in 2016, went into abandonment process. Roads gave way, public buildings and factories were destroyed. A quarter of the houses were flooded. Two years later, in another hurricane, Florence found little to destroy. The population has halved and the city is insolvent.
This scenario of devastation and abandonment is present in several regions of the United States, affected by extreme events related to the climate crisis, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and forest fires, as the series of reports by Marina Dias and Lalo de Almeida is showing.
“Don’t Look Up” is a satire to be taken seriously. Not that a comet is about to hit us, but because it shows how scientific denialism and savage capitalism lead us, little by little, to a scene of devastation.
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