Steyn reviews an unintentional comedy.
What could be (more) warming on this frosty weekend than the hilarious 2004 laugh-riot climate comedy. The Day After Tomorrow came out the day before yesterday, and opened to boffo box-office and predictions by Al Gore that it could change the result of the 2004 election. I’d like to think it did. Still, whatever your ideological inclinations, this picture’s a hoot. Lousy science, lousy politics, lousy characters, lousy dialogue, lousy plot. Yet they all add up to one helluva climate-change side-splitter.
It’s a tribute to the indomitable spirit of America: Huge twisters shred downtown Los Angeles, a giant tidal wave engulfs Manhattan, two dozen northern states are flash-frozen under a slab of ice a gazillion degrees below zero. But, like cockroaches after nuclear Armageddon, scurrying up from under the rubble come all the indestructible cardboard characters of the Hollywood disaster epic, as if they’d been perfectly preserved in ice ever since Earthquake, The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, just waiting to be defrosted when Roland Emmerich needed them again.
If you’re wondering about the science, global warming now manifests itself as both global warming and global cooling, in the same way that low self-esteem manifests itself not just in low self-esteem but also in abnormally high self-esteem. What it boils down to for the man on the street, or rather for the guy roaring past in the six-miles-per-gallon SUV splashing snow slush over the man in the street, is that whether it’s hot or cold it’s all your fault. Also, if it’s fifty-four and partially cloudy, that’s a sign that global warming-cooling is accelerating out of control into extreme moderation and you should just head for the hills.
As much as Emmerich’s anti-global warming, he’s far more anti-America. So, although it’s nominally the entire northern hemisphere that gets frosted over, there are no scenes of Kyoto-ratifying environmentally-responsible taxed-up-the-wazoo Scandinavians being swept to their doom. Instead, he shows Americans fleeing south and then, when the Mexicans close the border, swimming across the Rio Grande. If only that were frozen too, the Yanks could just skate across. But those environmentally responsible Latins pump enough pollutants into the river to keep it frothing and bubbling. If he were making it now, he could show a sudden wave from the Rio Grande flash-freezing into an instant insurmountable border wall preventing desperate Americans reached the promised land of Mexico.
As to whether this does anything to promote concern over climate change, I doubt it. We’d all be into it if the climate was going to change in 20 minutes. It’s kinda harder to follow over the course of half a millennium.
And even harder to care about, especially when you realize that the climate has always been changing, it always will be changing, and—planetary terraforming, Dyson Spheres, and the like remaining well beyond humanity’s technological reach at the moment—there ain’t one hell of a lot anybody can do about it.