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Climate Change: A Disaster Movie in Slow Motion

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We all love a good disaster movie (or at least I do). Nearly all scientists disdained the weather disaster movie Day After Tomorrow when it came out a couple of years ago. And, although the premise may hold some truth to it about climate change and the currents that drive our weather patterns, the movie’s all-out Armageddon-like display strained credulity on many levels.bear

As the reality of climate change and the new normal of our climate reality take hold, there are far too many who still believe (or delude themselves) that climate change is somehow a poorly conceived theory put forward by a bunch of coal-hating pseudo scientists–and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Paper after paper, report after report come out presenting incontrovertible evidence that climate change is here, here to stay, and almost at a point of no return.

As we watch more an more extreme weather unfold before our eyes: record after record topple: snow depths, lopsided polar vortices that render Alaska warmer than Tennessee, droughts that create drinking water shortages and wildfires the size of which we never imagined, heat waves that defy memory, it is easy to pass these all off as “weather events” that cannot be tied to climate change. And to a certain degree, that’s true. One F-5 tornado, one drought season, one anomalous hurricane, one devastating 100-year flood do not make in and of themselves proof of climate change.

These individual weather events do not occur simultaneously, or even in one season–and certainly not in one place. But taken as a whole, a pattern is emerging that climate scientists and meteorologists are beginning to find irrefutable. And although science is no longer in question, lots and lots of people do question, and whether it’s denial or a belief that somehow this is God’s fate for us, or that climate change is caused by trees (which it is, but only in the context of deforestation and uncontrollable wildfires, which both add to the carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere).

I have to wonder if all these record-setting weather events were put into a disaster movie and we crunched the timeline (because we know that’s what movies do), what people might think of climate change. Imagine the opening scene: long track killer tornadoes rip through the Midwest; floods submerge the Florida Keys and South Beach, while 200,000-acre wildfires rage from San Diego to Western Washington in the grip of a drought that begins battles over a diminishing water supply. Alaska sizzles in the midst of a 95-degree August, and the last of the Arctic sea ice disappears as Polar Bears seek food in costal communities, no longer able to live in the sea. Hurricanes rip up the Mid-Atlantic region and the corn crops fail in the breadbasket because of record-setting heat. And that’s only here in the U.S.

It’s a shame that the science of Day After Tomorrow was so shabby, because the film actually does have a point, and a good one–a cautionary tale worth hearing. And although we’re not about to have a new and abrupt Ice Age, there is something happening to the world’s weather, and it’s not good. But if you want really excellent fiction about what the future might hold, try Kim Stanley Robinson’s chilling novel trilogy that begins with Forty Signs of Rain.

In the meantime, cable news media aren’t helping–fostering debates by talking heads arguing about the merits of climate change, and covering polls that suggest that Americans don’t consider climate change a priority (as if that really matters). There is no debate. Full stop. Done. Over. John Oliver in his wonderful HBO late Sunday night spoofy news show Last Week Tonight got it right, while slamming news for its “balanced” coverage:

 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    Each country must examine its carbon footprint very carefully and take appropriate corrective action. In addition, reflective technologies must be considered for implementation in the polar regions. Solar energy based desalination plants are becoming a reality. This new reality should help to put the droughts in the West behind us. The only remaining challenge is to build the pipe infrastructure to deliver the water inland.

    • Charles Mahoney

      How about electric cars ? just think when late afternoon hot summer time we all plug in and the power grid snaps we can hardly cool our homes and solar would be a nice thing to have but I do not think we will live long enough to see it take over – and ethanol I am still looking at the little research I have done and need to do more – from what I am finding we make more carbon with it from the time we harvest the corn get the seed transport it plant it cook it make it take it to where ever to mix we really made more carbon and it cause the price of corn to go up – third world countries can not buy the corn to eat and they are starving because we throw the food supply in the gas tank and that makes corn a little shorter in supply and the cost went up .

  • mememine

    32 years of needless CO2 panic was a pure war crime.
    Science refuses to say “proven” or “100%” or “WILL be a crisis” or anything beyond; 95% and “could be” so if science can’t be certain that THE END IS NEAR, you can’t “believe”.
    Science is 100% certain the planet is not flat and have been 95% certain for 32 years that CO2 “could” flatten the planet?
    “Believe” what you like but don’t “believe” more than science does as three decades of “could be” is anything you want it to be but not; “sustainable”.

    • CB

      Science is never 100% certain of anything.

      Now, how certain are you there won’t be a crisis?

      If we haven’t set the world on a course toward total polar meltdown, 246 feet of sea level rise, the drowning of the homes of 3 billion people, and untold climate chaos just with the CO₂ we’ve already emitted, why isn’t there a single previous example in Earth’s history of polar ice caps withstanding CO₂ so high?

  • Charles Mahoney

    if you go to this site http://www.isthereglobalcooling.com (( you may have to put it in the search bar as many government agency’s may have had something to do with it not coming up if put in the address bar )) but this site takes you to USA government sites that show that the earth is cooling deep water temp prob around the world show it is cooling. remember the hockey stick graph it was on world news to night , stating- that this proves the earth is heating up

    but if you go backwards another 3000 years the earth was hotter than that – if carbon were represented as chairs in a 500000 seat Colosseum the amount of chairs that would represent the carbon humans put in the air would be 5 chairs the ocean is the biggest carbon maker . as far as polar bears the one they used in the ad that the poor bears could not find an ice berg — remember ? she had her baby with her well its summertime she missed the ice when it breaks and drifts way way out most all of the bears are on that break and drift out with it , and yes I am sorry for the bear they could starve . Japan ( you know they are smart ) wrote an a paper saying that the European governments are using CARBON as a way to control . any of you remember that thing on TV where the Gov ran a ad about how bad carbon was and shows a city full of smog ?? it was dirty hazy hanging over the city – well Carbon is invisible pollution has nothing to do with carbon – please do you research people – your freedom depends on it . and yes we really need to clean up pollution