The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Maybe I was wrong about The Day After Tomorrow:
No one is pretending the forthcoming film "The Day After Tomorrow" is anything but implausible: In the $125 million movie, global warming triggers a cascade of events that practically flash freeze the planet.

It's an abruptness no one believes possible, least of all the filmmakers behind the 20th Century Fox release. "It's very cinematic to choose the worst-case scenario, which we did," said co-screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff.

Nonetheless, scientists are embracing the movie, unusual for those whose stock in trade is fact.

"My first reaction was, 'Oh my God, this is a disaster because it is such a distortion of the science. It will certainly create a backlash,'" said Dan Schrag, a Harvard University paleoclimatologist. "I have sobered up somewhat, because the public is probably smart enough to distinguish between Hollywood and the real world."

He now hopes the movie will do for interest in global warming what "Jurassic Park" did for dinosaurs.
Haha, trust me, the remains of dinosaurs have been a high priority for the Bush administration and its friends for a long, long time.

Then again, there are more Republicans than Democrats who don't accept the possibility of global warming. And there are certainly more Republicans than Democrats -- in this case, young-earth creationists -- who don't accept the fact that giant reptiles walked the earth millions of years ago. So it kind of makes sense.
Several scientists who are familiar with the film were charitable, even overlooking the rapidity with which events unfold in the movie. "The science is bad, but perhaps it's an opportunity to crank up the dialogue on our role in climate change," NASA research oceanographer William Patzert said of the premise.

Most, including the filmmakers, acknowledge time had to be compressed to keep the audience's interest. When scientists who study climate refer to abrupt changes, they refer to decades, if not hundreds or thousands of years.

"Fox is not going to make a movie that goes on for 10,000 years," Patzert said.
A perfectly plausible explanation. But of course, that's precisely the argument that naysayers will make to use the movie to say that global warming is crap. Perhaps it's a good idea to meet the naysayers head-on here.

Of course, there's one other potential obstacle: The movie might suck. It is made by the brain trust that brought us Godzilla.


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