“Don’t look up” eliminates the frustration of being a scientist


Near the end In 2018, film director Adam McKay and reporter David Sirota talked about the relative lack of media coverage of what they believed was the biggest problem at the time: climate change. An IPCC Report It just came out, predicting widespread turbulence even in the case of a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius-global food shortages, rising temperatures and damage to the ecosystem-Mackay is “absolutely frightened.”

“It’s like an asteroid about to destroy the earth, no one cares,” Sirota told him. That spark turned into a movie idea, Don’t look up, After a short theater screening, it will be available on Netflix this week. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence played the roles of astronomers Randall Mindy and Kate Dibiaski. They stumbled upon a comet that collided with the Earth, but it was difficult to get Anyone takes this threat seriously. On the contrary, the public, politicians and media in his films are just like us-like a person who wants to finish steak in a burning restaurant.

For scientists working in this field, Don’t look upThe cryptic allegory of the climate crisis came painfully close to home. They have been warning about global warming for decades, and it is only in recent years that the government has really started to listen. Pierce Foster, professor of climate physics at the University of Leeds, said: “I certainly think Leonardo DiCaprio’s academic character in tweed is often confused why people stare at their faces without scientific evidence.” “Especially right. Where people are coming from and all their different agendas are confused.”

Although most of the film’s barbs are directed at the government and the media, the impression of scientists is not particularly good—when DiCaprio’s role was presented to the president (Meryl Sterry) in the Oval Office. (Pop) When explaining the situation, he started talking about orbital dynamics and the Oort cloud, and eventually confused the headlines: a huge comet will destroy the earth. The reporter called it burial lede.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Joanna Haigh, who was a professor of atmospheric physics at Imperial College London before retiring in 2019. In her career, Hagrid has seen people’s attitudes towards climate change shift from suspicion to acceptance — but it took longer than expected. “I think part of the problem is that the scientists themselves wrote these huge, great reports that are hundreds of pages long,” she said. “You can’t expect ordinary people to have the time and energy to read that kind of stuff.”

Due to the inherent uncertainty in the scientific process, there is a serious echo of how the information has been diluted in the film—experts are never 100% sure, they speak with confidence intervals and p-values. “We feel particularly bad about uncertainty and like to go directly to things we don’t know,” Foster said. “We are also not good at not telling people what they should do. We should first say what we know and give solutions.”


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However, climate scientists are slowly getting better at conveying their messages-thanks to the fact that climate change is no longer an abstract problem that occurs a few miles on the earth; this is floods in northern England, and wildfires in California. , The Sahara Desert spread slowly.

In the past few decades, the language we use to discuss this issue has gone from quite calm (global warming) to maddeningly vague (climate change) to shocking (climate crisis)-but actual action Still lagging. “This may be the scientist’s fault, really,” Hagrid said. “They could have said it more clearly, but of course you don’t want to cry wolf. You have to be careful when you speak.”


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