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Changing Climates and Changing Planets

Changing Climates and Changing Planets

“Interstellar’s” Response to the Global Consequences of Climate 

By Noah Dauncey 

This planet is pretty tight, wouldn’t you agree? You wanna know what’s not tight? Climate change. The earth has been under a lot of pressure lately, and if we don’t start to make serious changes, this tight planet won’t be around for very much longer. So, what if we left? 

This is the logic of the 2014 film “Interstellar” directed by Christopher Nolan. The film consists of a team of beautiful people (such as Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) travelling across the universe in hopes of finding a planet capable of being the new home of humanity. 

Meanwhile, back on Earth we see how the world has changed and how the climate has started to impact the survival of mankind. Dust storms sweep through cities at random, making masks a requirement (seems sort of relevant). Earth is in crisis mode and a solution must be found. People’s solution involves relocating across the galaxy: “We’re not meant to save the world. We are meant to leave it.” 

What follows is an amazing spectacle of space exploration, dangerous planet expeditions, and some high-concept ideas that may leave you scratching your head. But who cares about understanding the message when you can focus on the nerve-wracking scene in which the characters need to get back to the ship before imminent danger strikes, all accompanied by the adrenaline pumping score done by legendary composer Hans Zimmer?  

“Interstellar” looks at what we as humans are meant for, what destinies lie before us, and how we choose to approach them. Are we to keep up this seemingly impossible dance of saving the world, or are we meant to look for the next sequence in the story of humanity and where that will take us? 

On top of all these philosophical questions, the film also portrays a heartfelt father-daughter relationship, a story about a girl who doesn’t want her dad to leave her for this mission and a dad who knows he needs to leave her for the sake of humanity. It is this heartbreaking dilemma that prompts one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie.  

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Due to black holes and light-speed travel, Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, is shown years’ worth of video messages from his children (one of which is played by a young Timothée Chalamet). As he watches his children literally grow up before his eyes, there is nothing he can do but sob as he thinks of all the moments of their lives he has missed in the name of science, doing what he felt was the right thing to do at the time. 

“Interstellar” has an interesting take on climate change because it doesn’t hyperbolize it as a huge disaster-like film such as “2012” (2009) or “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004). Instead, it shows a much tamer look of, “Oh, this is still bad, and it is still a threat to the world and our survival.” This is similar to our real-life relationship with climate change, as we look outside and see a nice sunny day and think, “There’s no real danger,” but in actuality we are much closer to this “Interstellar”-like future than we think. We may not be threatened by exploding volcanoes or the earth freezing over, but unless change happens soon, we might have to decide for ourselves if we need to vacate the premises too. 


  1. Woman and fire field – “Interstellar’s” dark but serious look at what climate change could cause in the near future. Photo by
  1. Dust Truck – I wonder if there would still be anti-maskers with that much dust? Photo by
  1. Man and girl looking up – “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.” -Cooper Photo by 
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