SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In director Adam McKay’s ‘Don’t Look Up,’ a 2021 satire about two scientists who try in vain to warn the world of a planet-destroying comet, scientists’ desperate plea to action ultimately does not work.
But don’t take this as McKay’s take on the power of activism to change the course of the climate crisis, the existential threat his movie was really about.
McKay plans to announce on Tuesday a $4 million donation to the Climate Emergency Fund, an organization dedicated to getting money into the hands of activists engaged in disruptive protests calling for faster and more aggressive climate action. . It’s the biggest donation the fund has received since its inception in 2019, and McKay’s biggest personal gift. He joined the organization’s board of directors in August.
Climate change is “extremely alarming, extremely scary and quickly becoming the only thing I think about on a daily basis, even when I’m writing scripts and directing or producing,” McKay said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. .
From the overthrow of monarchies to labor movements and the civil rights era, activism is an “incredibly kinetic, powerful and transformative” force that has created change throughout history, he said.
The Climate Emergency Fund has awarded $7 million to organizations primarily supporting volunteer climate activists around the world. These activists have done everything from marching through the streets of France to urge people to ‘look up’ – a reference to McKay’s film – to protesting on the water near West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s boat. on the need for federal climate legislation.
The fund’s goal is to provide a bridge for more traditional wealthy donors with activists looking to make a statement — two groups that don’t always agree, said Margaret Klein Salamon, the fund’s executive director and clinical psychologist.
As for the ending of “Don’t Look Up,” Salamon said it was a “significant psychological and cultural intervention” that highlighted the stakes of fighting climate change.
McKay, for his part, said he was hesitant to award direct action to his film. But he sees both cinema and disruptive protest as culture-changing actions, which can be a major step in influencing politics. The film, he said, sparked an incredible response around the world from ordinary viewers and scientists who have been fighting for climate action for decades.
“It was really beautiful to see people who have been in this fight for a lot longer than me feeling really seen,” he said.
McKay, 54, began his career writing comedy and rose to fame for films like “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers.” In recent years, his work has taken on a more political tone, although it’s still in the realm of comedy – so dark. He wrote and directed ‘The Big Short’, about the 2008 financial meltdown, and ‘Vice’, about the influence of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and is the executive producer of ‘Succession’. TV show about a media mogul and his children who want to take over the business.
He says his own climate awakening came several years ago when he read a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that highlighted the big differences that would occur if the planet warmed by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) instead of 1.5 degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. It was then, he said, that he went from someone who worried about climate change to someone who saw it as a hot spot.
In the years that followed, the situation only got worse, he said, pointing to the drying up of the Colorado River, the floods in Pakistan and the summer heat wave in Europe as evidence that It is urgent to take action.
“I truly believe, without any hyperbole, scientifically speaking, this is the greatest challenge, story, threat in human history,” he said.
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