Exploring abrupt climate change induced by comets and asteroids during human history

Art imitates Tusk

NetFlix comet blockbuster most expensive production ever for studio

The cruel irony of this welcome movie should be apparent to Tusk regulars. A satirical blockbuster uses an impending comet impact as a plot device to communicate a deeper message to all humanity that no one listens to scientists who…warn us of climate change. The director reveals his narrative subtext in many interviews, and calls it here, “…the most thinly disguised metaphor in the history of metaphors.”

Don’t Look Up seems a misuse of artistic resources. From the Tusk’s perspective, anthropogenic climate change suffers from no lack of attention and deep concern. But the demonstrated threat of comets making earth a bad place in recent times (or more accurately comet ‘fragments,’ as in last year’s masterpiece Greenland) is nearly absent from the global mindspace.

Good gosh, earth’s leaders met in person last month on CO2 — it’s on the agenda. Space based threats by comparison are discussed, at best, as a fascinatingly unlikely example of shared global peril and, at worst, mocked in movies.

(For the record, I believe humans affect the climate. But our global conversation on the topic seems to the Tusk like a couple arguing over the radio station — while their car is on the train tracks. The “peer threat” to carbon dioxide — cosmic impact — suffers from ignorance because it is hard to blame a Democrat or Republican for an incoming space object.)

In any case, the film does look really, really good, and it is apparently the most expensive production in NetFlix history.

Grudgingly, the attention to the comet threat is welcome anytime here at the Tusk, even if satire in pursuit of lesser agendas is not ideal.

13 Responses

  1. You have elucidated my thoughts entirely.

    However, I find myself in a position to, in some way, redress the balance – Orr at least that is the plan.

    I will be writing to you in a week or so but, in short, I am seeking advice, technical info & above all your personal perspective in regard to a storyline I am writing with a Director friend for a TV drama series.

    Having followed you (and all the guys) regarding your work on the YD impact for some years now, I very much suspect you will be interested in where we’re going.

    Keep up the good work.


  2. That trailer is making a joke of a seriously serious subject. Shame on them. It doesn’t deserve any more comment than that.

  3. As a counter, I recommend the British miniseries, ‘You, Me, and the Apocalypse’. It is entertaining without making light of the subject matter. Not available everywhere online, but it is out there.

  4. I don’t agree that doing a film that covers this genuinely important subject in such a way is shameful at all. First off, it’s satire, not comedy… and satire is one of the last avenues that television program and film makers have at their disposal to actually get people to think about serious issues these days.

    As you’re no doubt aware, networks like Discovery, History Channel and the like, have completely dropped the ball on intelligent programming. Their shows are now an ongoing insult to our intelligence, so what else is left for film makers who want to address topics like this and get it to ‘mainstream’ audiences? A serious documentary on Fox? No. ABC? CBS? NBC? No. No. And No again.

    I worked in science television production for over 30 years. Every ounce of passion I had for trying to give audiences intelligent and thought-provoking information has long been beaten out of me by the stupidity of the people who commission films, documentaries and factual television series.

    And believe me, in this day and age, the ‘mainstream media’ certainly doesn’t want their viewers to do anything as ‘difficult’ as think. Not good for ratings – or so the people who commission shows have come to believe. The twits.

    Still, I’m sure if we just add some more gratuitous sounds FX and a wall of completely overcooked music, then nobody will notice how absolutely rubbish the content really is. 😉

  5. Well, George, I’ve stayed away, but this calls for comment…

    The George Brown Jr amendment was passed in 2005, and NASA is slowly stepping up to the plate. You’re welcome…

    As far as global warming goes, both Gates and Myrvold are invested in nuclear reactors. funding next generation very safe plants. The tech solution to CO2 production, and an interesting PR problem…

    It is interesting to note the very different reactions the public has had to the problems. “Global Warming” took off as an issue, while the impact hazard remains lingering..but oh yes, we might have to use a nuke to stop an impactor, particularly if the current diversion studies flounder, and that may well explain the difference in the “public” reaction.

  6. Most viewers of the movie won’t understand it’s really about climate change. Any news is good news – should create more awareness on the risk of comets.

  7. I liked Glenn’s comments about how science television has insulted our intelligence. I come from the National Geographic generation and even that channel has devolved into assaulting our intellect. Is this an American phenomenon?

  8. Largely agreed, although I think the small changes in climate can really impact billions of people quite easily. A huge portion of India is fed by glacier and snow melt in the Himalayas, but those are no longer producing the levels they once did, or result in sudden massive floods that wipe away crop land, for example. The Mekong Delta provides food for nearly a billion people, but a little bit of sea level rise would put it underwater. Similarly, ocean acidification is rampant, and the food sources for much of the world no longer have the same levels of access to what they always harvested, hunted, and ate. Yes, a comet or asteroid would do us in in an instant, but the changes of climate will result in climate refugees, conflict over water, conflict over fishing areas as species move to warmer (or colder) waters. It’s very serious, and still does need more attention, but impacts needs that additional attention asap, as well. Hopefully we’ll address it all before too late.

  9. In response to Richard Johnson’s question about about whether science television ‘insulting viewer’s intelligence’ is an American phenomenon:

    I’m afraid the first part of the answer is yes. That’s because, in the quest for ratings, American television executives long ago dediced that no program should be smarter than the dumbest audience member who might decide to watch the show for ten seconds. And you can see where that has led us. Heaven forbid that someone might actually have to stretch themselves mentally in order to actually learn something!

    The second part of the answer is that, broadcasters in almost every other country have had followed suit because: To get anything funded with a decent budget these days, you inevitably need to have a U.S. network on board. So, the result is dumber programs all around the world, because no film producer can afford to make different versions for different markets any more. It’s just too cost prohibitive.

    All in all, it’s a very sad state of affairs for science TV/documentary makers (like myself – formerly) who are left with no choice other than to make low-grade rubbish, or give in while hanging their heads in despair and hoping nobody notices their names on the credits…. or run away. That’s what I chose to do.

    Perhaps worst of all, this dumbed-down lowest-common-denominator race-to-the-bottom programming leaves audiences with no idea of how to distinguish the difference between fact, fiction and TV/film click-bait.

    The result of all that is the perpetuation and deepening of the mess the world now finds itself in. But ‘Don’t Look Up!’… or look in the dictionary. After all, you might have another like on Facebook, so go look there instead and get your next microsecond serotonin hit! 😉


  10. Ooops. Please excuse the typos in the post above. I’ve obviously been watching too much television! (Not.)

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