We are at a pivotal moment in history. The climate crisis is coming to a tipping point. Action needs to be taken now; it is becoming clearer every day that our current global economy cannot and will not support sustainable energy alternatives. If we do not curb our greenhouse gas emissions, we will face very real consequences very soon.
How Good Omens Tackle Climate Change
Amazon Studios’ webseries adaptation of Good Omens addresses the climate crisis head-on. Adam illustrates a generation’s anxieties and feelings of hopelessness regarding climate change by citing it as a reason to destroy the world.
The entire Armageddon storyline is for the consequences of climate change. What we will see happening on earth may be comparable to a post-apocalyptic thriller. Pollution’s presence in the series, rather than Pestilence’s, brings some of these consequences to the forefront.
Adam uses his Satanic powers to fight for the planet. He sets the Kraken on whaling ships. He makes the rain forests grow back, a feat that makes my heart ache even more now with the recent massive fires in the Amazon.
Love Thy Neighbor
What ultimately saves the day is love. Love is the most cornerstone theme in Good Omens. The love depicted in Good Omens is very powerful indeed. It’s a love that is like “a friendly but uncompromising headlock,” it’s like that one scene from Pride and Prejudice. It is corny and illogical, it’s wonderful and confusing, it’s supporting and cultivating growth. It’s not necessarily romantic, or even directed towards another individual, although that is the most common form this kind of love takes in media. Good Omens portrays this love so well, in so many ways, but today I want to focus on two: a love for the planet and a love for humanity.
Aziraphale and Crowley both represent this love. We see it rather obviously in the first episode when the two of them get drunk on “quite extraordinary amounts” of Châteauneuf-du-Pape after their discussion in St. James’ Park about the end of the world. Crowley quite elegantly explains to Aziraphale how all creatures will suffer when Armageddon begins, not just humans. Their other worries include losing composers and bookshops. In other words, they are afraid of losing human innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness. Aziraphale and Crowley differ from other angels and demons in a significant way: the other beings of Heaven and Hell don’t understand humanity at all.
Do You Understand Humanity In Good Omens?
Aziraphale and Crowley are the only celestial beings that understand humanity, care for humanity, and want to see it thrive. In “going native,” they have developed a relationship with humans. What Crowley and Aziraphale love so dearly about us humans is our ability to improve. It is our ability to innovate and problem-solve that makes humans so capable of doing good.
Yes, human selfishness and greed have caused a multitude of global problems. However, the premise of Good Omens is that humans are capable of choosing to be good; the Antichrist himself makes this choice in the end. The portrayal of the kids in the webseries is a tender perspective on childhood that frames Brian, Pepper, Wensleydale, and Adam as symbols of the anxious hope that is felt by nearly every young person today regarding the uncertain fate of our planet. The gentle string of music that underscores each scene of the children playing together sets a whimsically nostalgic mood of the days of tire swings and make-believe.
At the risk of sounding cliché, children truly are the future. Good Omens asks the question, “how are children dealing with the inheritance of a dying planet, with nothing being done to save it?” Oliver Thorn, the owner of the YouTube channel, Philosophy Tube, offers some insight. He asserts that climate change is a multifaceted, cross-disciplinary problem, for it is also deeply enmeshed with labor issues and migrant rights, as well as many other problems. That being said, it is no surprise that many young people like Greta Thunberg are falling into “climate despair.”
Thorn proposes climate grief as a more productive alternative to despair. Grief is simply an emotion, which we are able to respond to in a healthy way, that promotes growth, learning, and change; or in a less healthy way, in which we are paralyzed by our fear of the future and continue on this trajectory of inaction.
It is in our best interest to grieve the damage done to our planet and communities, and honor that pain, while also taking steps to prevent further damage and exploitation. It is not about returning to a pre-industrial way of life — but creating new ways of life — that support a sustainable society. Nearing the end of the series, Anathema must decide to either continue living her life according to her ancestor’s advice or find her own way through life. This is a clear parallel to the choice young people today face regarding the future of our society.
Good Omens instills hope in its viewers, and we need more media messages like this. Hope is important, but action is the only thing that will make a difference. The human characters in Good Omens reflect a love for the planet that is so crucial in addressing climate change. Aziraphale and Crowley’s love for humanity speaks to a need for more empathy for each other. We need to love our planet and our fellow humans so fiercely that allowing the crisis at hand to continue would seem unthinkable.