“It’s Not Possible—No, It’s Necessary”


“It’s Not Possible—No, It’s Necessary”
© Gorodenkoff


The Earth is dying. We must set out into space to look for another planet that can sustain human life. Such is the plot of Christopher Nolan’s 2014 science fiction movie Interstellar. How far are we from that being a reality today? Not that far!

Welcome to my first of what will be regular columns in Lubes’n’Greases magazine. Climate change has become a popular theme in Hollywood, so much so that besides sci-fi, the genre “cli-fi” has been coined, delivering cinemagoers warnings about what could happen if destructive human activities go unchecked.

Although some still refuse to accept climate change as a reality, cinema clearly doesn’t. Cli-fi films have tackled melted icecaps in Waterworld (1995) or weather disasters in The Day After Tomorrow (2004) , among many other disaster movies, psychological thrillers, comedies, animations and alien films.

The success of Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which was considered fringe at first, may have spurred a heightened political and social awareness of global warming. More recently, Interstellar depicts a dust bowl Earth that can no longer support agriculture. In some parts of the world today, this is a reality.

Today’s environmental crisis—from the mindless contamination of the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and soils with life-threatening chemicals to the imminent danger posed by climate change to most living beings on Earth—can be traced back to the mindset that fueled Interstellar‘s plot. 

Interstellar is about Earth’s last chance to find a habitable planet before a lack of resources causes the human race to go extinct. The film’s protagonist is tasked with leading a mission through a wormhole to find a habitable planet in another galaxy. There are two plans in Interstellar’s plot. Plan A is to build a space station for some of those still left on Earth. Plan B is to search for habitable planets on the other side of the wormhole.

Although fiction, Interstellar teaches us lessons about the brutality of an apocalyptic future Earth where there is scant food or water, no governments and social collapse, as well as confronting our problems instead of running away from them. Presently, we still have time to steer course in a better direction.

The second study of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report released in 2022 concluded there is still time to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, but this opportunity for action will only last for the rest of this decade. After then, it’s too late.

We are unwilling to change and to take environmental degradation seriously because, in the back of our minds, we still hope against hope that there could be a miraculous solution to the devastation we have wrought on Earth. We fantasize about starting afresh on another pristine, Earth-like planet that we can proceed to exploit with as much gusto as we used to destroy our homeland. But contrary to the plot of Interstellar, we have no Plan B and no Planet B.

In one Interstellar scene, the protagonist tries to save the partly destroyed spaceship carrying the seeds of humanity’s future. The computer tells him, “It’s not possible,” to which he replies, ”No, it’s necessary.”

Perhaps evocative films like Interstellar could create an even higher sense of urgency about the threats posed by climate change and our ability to do something about it. It’s possible and it’s necessary!

Stay SuSTAYnable!  

Apu Gosalia is a sustainability expert. He can be reached at

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