Madam Secretary and Climate Change


Madam Secretary is an American drama series about a US secretary of state, her colleagues and her family. It’s also a force for good in raising climate change awareness.

Tea Leoni plays Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst who becomes foreign secretary after her old CIA boss enters the Oval Office.

Each episode of the five series so far is a story in itself. The usual format is that a problem presents itself and using fairness, ingenuity and cooperation, Elizabeth’s team fixes it.

There are also long running threads and characters that reappear in episode after episode. One of my favourites is the Chinese ambassador.

In series 5 one of Elizabeth’s major concerns is to gain support for an international treaty to help climate change refugees. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of people will need rehoming.

Spoilers coming up

The climate change issue comes to a head in an episode about a tiny Pacific island community battered by storms.

The people have lived on their coral island for 3,000 years. Rising sea levels and worsening storms now make the island unsafe. The islanders need permanent relocation.

Luckily for the islanders an appropriate home is found on a rock star’s private island. Less luckily we hear that it will only last for 200 years.

In one of the final scenes a member of Elizabeth’s team calls her in to see a satellite picture of the old island after the latest severe storm.

Now here’s the crunch.

There’s nothing there. The image shows blue water. The island’s coral foundation has collapsed under the force of the storm. If Elizabeth’s team hadn’t helped, an entire island community would’ve been wiped out by climate change.

Series 5 has ended now and I’m looking forward to Series 6 in which Elizabeth runs for president.

Madam Secretary is a truly amazing show that comments on numerous contemporary issues. It’s also good, fully rounded story telling.

Something of Madam Secretary‘s commitment to American politics is shown by who has agreed to appear on it in recent years.

The picture below shows Elizabeth with three real life former foreign secretaries.

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