Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What’s Likely to Happen the Day After Tomorrow?

This weekend, I watched a movie on DVD – “The Day After Tomorrow,” released in 2004 and starring Dennis Quaid as a government scientist who sees that the earth is heading fast toward eco-catastrophe, and Jake Gyllenhaal as his college student son stuck in a New York city library with friends, as the city freezes over. The premise of the story is that global warming is upon us, but it’s going to happen through abrupt climate change where the world’s northern hemisphere at first freezes over and enters a new ice age.

As the blizzard wipes out the northern hemisphere, Americans have to beg for access to Mexico and ironically go south of the border. The president freezes to death and a conservative vice president takes over, goes on TV at the end of the movie, and admits he should have been supportive of natural resources and could be partially to blame for this nightmare occurring. Scientist Quaid gives a presentation earlier in the movie about global warming happening, but that it will also trigger a new ice age where people will freeze to death if outdoors. He takes on the cause of going to New York City and saving his son, making up for abandoning him earlier.

So the movie boils down to two things – a 1970s style disaster epic in the family of “Earthquake,” and “The Poseidon Adventure,” and it becomes a father/son bonding flick. Throw in the cute girlfriend that Jake wins over in the library, and you get the idea.

I don’t think it was really about public education on global warming, and what needs to be done about it. It is very interesting that the movie came out in 2004, two years ahead of “An Inconvenient Truth,” with Al Gore, which is given credit for raising awareness of global warming and environmental catastrophe and helping the sustainability, clean tech, and green car sectors move forward. So obviously, the topic was hot enough (or cold enough) to allow for funding and distribution of a global warming survival flick seven years ago.

On the subject, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change had a few things to say about the movie and didn't think it was a realistic forecast. They had this to say...

If “The Day After Tomorrow” is fiction, what is the truth about global warming?
The truth is that global warming is happening and that it is already too late to avoid some of the effects. Even under the most optimistic circumstances, atmospheric scientists expect global climate change to result in increased flooding and droughts, more severe storms, and a loss of plant and animal species. These events will occur, even if climate change is gradual.

What can be done about global climate change?
There is no single cause of global climate change and there is no single answer. Most experts believe that technology will provide the solutions. Technologies that reduce emissions (energy efficiency, hydrogen fuels, carbon storage, nuclear energy, and renewable energy) and technologies that remove carbon from the atmosphere may all play a role. Government policies that encourage businesses to develop and use these and other technologies are also very important. Many states and businesses have already found they can reduce emissions while saving money.


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