26.5.04

The Day After Tomorrow - the latest Hollywood blockbuster is dissected on Spiked Online

Disaster films have a long tradition of attracting big audiences with the perverse pleasure of contemplating their own mass self-demise. What's different with The Day After Tomorrow is that it pretends to be taken seriously: the producers have organised preview screenings for scientists and have successfully sparked off a debate in scientific circles about the film's scenario. The ("scientific") plot? Greenhouse gas emission causes global warming > global warming causes the polar ice caps to melt > this causes an influx of fresh water into the salt water of the world's oceans > which causes the Gulf Stream to stop > which three hurricanes to drag cold air from the upper atmosphere into the lower atmosphere which > initiates a new ice age > The End.

According to Mark Gordon, the film's producer, The Day After Tomorrow is based on "science fact, although we have collapsed the time period to make the coming of this ice age happen much more quickly". Indeed. As the Spiked article's author puts it: "environmental changes on this scale generally take centuries to occur. And far from being 'science fact', there is significant scientific debate about whether or not each of the stages in the film's doomsday scenario, upon which each subsequent stage depends, is a) possible, b) likely, and c) necessarily disastrous for humankind."

The whole thing reminds me of that wonderful neologism created by early extropian Dave Krieger: disasturbation - "idly fantasizing about possible catastrophes (ecological collapse, full-blown totalitarianism) without considering their likelihood or considering their possible solutions/preventions."

"Science, and fiction" by Sandy Starr(on the Spiked site)

The Day After Tomorrow - the film's official website

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