Note From McKay: The Comet Is Already Hitting Us

By: Adam McKay

Four years ago, when David Sirota and I came up with the idea for the movie Don’t Look Up, the story seemed like an apt metaphor for our collective response to the climate crisis.

We know it’s coming… we know what to do… why won’t we stop it?

But here’s what I understand now that I didn’t then:

The comet is already hitting us.

This might as well have been the subtitle of James Hansen’s latest paper, “Global Warming In the Pipeline,” about what we’ve already locked in through decades of failure to cut oil, gas, and coal pollution.

If you bristle at the word failure, consider this: Since the first UN report on climate change in 1990, which effectively started the clock on world governments’ collective response, annual carbon pollution has doubled.

I’d like to think that since Dances With Wolves won the Oscar and Hold On was the #1 song, we could have made some progress on emissions. Instead, in these 33 years we’ve unleashed more carbon dioxide than in all of preceding human history.

That’s a comet. The biblical chaos of 2023 is one of many impacts.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is unlike the “planet-killer” of Don’t Look Up, this is not a binary situation.

Tenths of a degree in global warming will make a huge difference for billions of people. And how hot it gets is still up to us.

But the comet has struck. There is no avoiding the price we’ve been saddled with from decades of greed, corruption, and apathy on the part of Big Oil, world leaders, big banks, and the media.

And that’s another other piece of “good” news:

We know how we’ve failed in the past so now we know how to succeed for the future.

Because we’re not powerless. And we never have been.

But until this moment, those in power have been able to effectively silence us.

That is going to get harder and harder as the impact crater gets bigger and bigger.

And we all get louder and louder.