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Bad science, bad movie

By Alan Caruba
web posted May 24, 2004

A scene from 'The Day After Tomorrow'Coming to a theatre near you on Memorial Day is "The Day After Tomorrow", a movie intended to convince those foolish enough to see it that global warming will lead to a new ice age in America. As science fiction goes, this is as fictional as one can get because there is absolutely no scientific basis for the story this movie depicts.

Just like global warming, it is just a story, but it is one intended to further the aims of the theory that has been kicking around now since the original effort in the 1970s by environmentalists to convince people that an Ice Age was coming.

Having failed to scare enough people, this was converted into a theory that the world was warming too much from greenhouse emissions. These were said to be creating too much carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gas" elements in the atmosphere. The automobile received the largest blame for this, along with the use of every other "fossil fuel" such as coal and natural gas.

Real scientists, not the ones who sold out to the environmentalists, know a lot about the way the Earth really functions. It is, by the way, an estimated 5.4 billion years old. While climate is probably one of the least predictable things that occur any time and anywhere on Earth, there is enough known to dispute the cockeyed global warming theory. Some very brave voices have been speaking out against it for a long time and most people by now, whether they know a thing about the science involved, have probably concluded it is nonsense.

"The Day After Tomorrow" will no doubt use some wonderful special effects to suggest that millions are doomed by the fictional ice age, but Hollywood is hardly the place to turn to for anything other than a brief respite of entertainment. Indeed, the early critical word on this film is that it is pretty awful.

To understand what drives the climate on Earth, one need only look up into the sky and see the Sun. It, more than any other factor, determines climate. As the Earth moves around it, various portions experience the different seasons in different ways. When it is winter in America, it is summer in Australia, and vice-versa. And, even when it is winter in America, parts of it like Florida, being in a semi-tropical zone, don't even experience it at all.

In addition to changing solar activity, other factors affecting the climate are the oceans, clouds, and even varying levels of volcanic activity. The effect that mankind has on the climate is minimal. Global warming is largely based on the view that humans have to change their behavior or the Earth is doomed from our use of various forms of energy.

In reality, if there was more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperatures were a bit warmer overall, life on Earth would improve, not the least from longer periods of agricultural production, increased forest growth, and the general comfort we associate with warmer weather. If one just considers the hardships associated with winter blizzards, this would seem obvious to anyone. Almost invariably, in the midst of each major winter blizzard, some environmental organization issues a news release blaming it on global warming. It has become a favorite topic of cartoonists.

"The Day After Tomorrow" is best seen as a cartoon. A figment of someone's imagination. There is something called the Atlantic Meriodonal Oscillation (AMO) and scientists acknowledge that were it to become inactive, "substantial short-term cooling would result in western Europe, especially during the winter." This scary scenario has been already been put forth by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Control in 2001. The only problem is that even their own computer models don't predict it.

When it comes to the weather, even the most sophisticated computer models used by our National Weather Service often can fail to predict a blizzard or, at least, the area it will cover and how much snow it will produce.

In a recent edition of a newsletter published by the Cooler Heads Coalition, Canadian scientists Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria and Claude Hailaire-Marcel of the Universite de Quebec a Montreal, have stated that, "In light of the paleoclimate record and our understanding of the contemporary climate system, it is safe to say that global warming will not lead to the onset of a new ice age."

"These same records suggest that it is highly unlikely that global warming will lead to a widespread collapse of the AMO…" When scientists use words like "highly unlikely" they mean it just won't happen. Wallace Broecker, an oceanographer, weighed in to add "Exaggerated scenarios serve only to intensify the existing polarization over global warming." In other words, the worse the doomsday prediction, the less likely it will occur.

So "The Day After Tomorrow" will show up in theatres and, no doubt, after a short run, find its way to your local video store and then later on be broadcast on television. None of which means that its doomsday message is worth worrying about.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs", posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the website of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns. © Alan Caruba, 2004

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