The Day After Tomorrow
starring Dennis Quid, Jake Gyllenhall, Ian Holm, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward, Dash Mihok and Kenneth Welsh
written by Roland Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachmanoff
directed by Roland Emmerich
I saw this film twice in the movie theater during the summer - once by myself, and a second time and myself with my daughter after she begged to go see it before school started again. It was a good father-daughter outing, although the second time round was a bit boring for me. It is a clear example of Hollywood cashing in on a popular contemporary fad - environmentalism. And environmentalism is a fad. It will fade from public discourse, educational and political consciousness in time as it follows the life cycle of ideas. But it gives me a chance to blab on about Global Warming, and I am always happy to blab. Or, is it blabber?
The film was out on video in Tokyo by October. I was surprised by that speed, but we rented it to watch again.
The Day After Tomorrow is another disaster story in which we get to see American cities like New York and Los Angelesdestroyed - again. (Hollywood writers like to destroy their own cities. In the last few years Godzilla and falling asteroids have devastated Manhattan, and even a volcano got Los Angeles in one of Tommy Lee Jones’ last movies.) This time it is a sudden Ice Age catalyzed by global warming.
The President of the United States in the film is a useless cardboard character who is not seen very much before being conveniently killed off in the freezing weather to be replaced by the slightly more colorful and comic Vice President. He is a stereotypic scientifically illiterateWashingtonpolitician more concerned with the economy than with the environment - which is precisely the prevailing reality in Washington, D.C.
In the end, the entire northern hemisphere is covered with ice and snow just like in the last ice age. Hundreds of millions are dead, and those who can move are forced to become illegal immigrants and refugees in warmer equatorial, 3rd World countries. It is an ironically just turn of events, and a nice comeuppance for the smarmy Vice President.
At first it seems like a non sequitur: how can global warming lead to cooling and the dawn of a new ice age? The science in the movie is ridiculous, although all the theories presented to explain the story are true, and they highlight a point that has been made by teachers and scientists for years, but which students, the media, and the public at large ignore, are impervious to, or else are dedicated to misunderstanding. The Global Warming model of global climactic change does not say that the earth will get warmer and warmer like it does in the Charleton Heston movieSoylent Green. What Global Warming models say is that over time the weather will become more violent and erratic because of greenhouse gasses collecting in the atmosphere. Some places that are already warm or hot will become warmer, and places that are cool or cold will become warmer, too. Also, some places that are cool and cold will become cooler, and some places that are hot and warm will become cooler. Similarly, some places that are wet will become wetter, while some places that are wet will become drier. At the same time, some places that are dry will become wetter, while other places that are dry will become wetter. That is what Global Warming models predict. Quite varied, isn’t it?
The science in The Day After Tomorrow is all wrong, and gives an incorrect picture of things. But of course, that’s Hollywood. The biggest positive thing I can say for the film is that it might interest young people in studying their geography - especially the meteorology units of it - more closely.
People do not stop to think about it, but in terms of geological time we are still in an ice age, emerging from the last one. So for that reason it might make good sense that our global climate is warming. At the same time, any geographer will tell you that without a doubt there will be more ice ages in the future. The earth isn’t finished doing that yet, global warming or no global warming.