TCS Daily


Thank Poor Al Gore

By James K. Glassman - May 27, 2004 12:00 AM

Poor Al Gore. First he blows an election, failing to carry his home state. Then he backs Howard Dean. Next, he goes to New York to promote the Kyoto global warming treaty, and it turns out to be the coldest day in decades. And now this!

Gore has become the pitchman for a dimwitted, scientifically clueless movie about climate change that Gregg Easterbrook, the environmentally concerned senior editor at The New Republic, says is "beyond laughable."

The movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," opens May 28. It's directed by Roland Emmerich, a German who famously told Der Spiegel, "I would never want to be an American."

Emmerich, whose previous credits include "Godzilla," says that global warming is the "only problem big enough to force all the countries of the world to stop fighting and work together to save the planet." No word yet from Iran and North Korea on this mission, nor from Osama bin Laden.

O.K., I shouldn't joke. Climate change is a serious subject. Will human-induced carbon dioxide emissions heat up the planet with dire results a century from now? That's what diligent, non-political scientists are trying to discover, and they have plenty of time to make sober judgments.

Sober, this film is not. "They took a bunch of pieces of bad science and made a movie out of them," says George Taylor, state climatologist of Oregon.

Easterbrook calls the film "a cheapo third-rate disaster movie that makes 'Fantastic Voyage' seem like a peer-reviewed technical paper." Still, backers of Kyoto -- and haters of President Bush -- are using "The Day After Tomorrow" as a fund-raising tool. MoveOn.org, the leftist organization, recruited Gore, who appeared at a press conference two weeks ago to say that Bush is the real purveyor of fiction on climate change.

You be the judge. The movie plot goes like this: Global warming melts polar ice caps, and the release of fresh water stops the Gulf Stream, which heats the North Atlantic. All of this happens in a matter of days. Giant storms ensue, dumping hundreds of feet of snow in temperate climes. The next summer, the snow melts and 100-foot tidal waves and floods kill millions. Hurricanes with 250 mile-per-hour winds hit Los Angeles, etc, etc.

"The Day After Tomorrow" would be so-so as a summer disaster flick, but Emmerich, Gore and their ilk want you to take it seriously. In fact, it merely shows, once more, the desperation of the movement to shove the Kyoto Protocol down the throats of Americans. First, we were told we were unilateralists and moral imbeciles for opposing Kyoto. This movie says, "Now, see what you've done!"

The truth is that Gore signed Kyoto in 1997 in defiance of a unanimous Senate, and President Clinton never submitted the treaty for ratification. The reasons were simple: It would have little effect on climate, it would plunge the world into recession and it was written to hurt the U.S. at the expense of Europe. Bush in early 2001 declared Kyoto "fatally flawed" and ordered more research.

What scientists have been finding lately casts severe doubt on the "abrupt" climate-change scenarios that radical enviros -- and this film -- have been promoting. And the mitigation proposed by Kyoto -- making electricity enormously expensive -- would produce a real-life disaster for developing countries.

To combat any calamity, natural or human-caused, poor nations require, most of all, strong economic growth. Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish statistician whose book "The Skeptical Environmentalist," injected common sense and actual data into the climate debate, points out that, "for the cost of implementing Kyoto in just one year, we could permanently provide clean drinking water and sanitation to everyone on the planet."

As for the Gulf Stream scenario, the top expert on ocean currents, Carl Wunsch of MIT last month urged an end to all this "hyperbole and alarmism." He said in a letter to the journal Nature, "The occurrence of a climate state without the Gulf Stream any time soon -- within tens of millions of years -- has a probability of little more than zero."

A more accurate horror movie about Kyoto would be called "The Monster That Wouldn't Die." The protocol lives -- in America's state houses and lately even in parts of the Senate. But perhaps not much longer. By portraying "The Day After Tomorrow" as serious science, its supporters may, at last, be putting a stake through Kyoto's heart. Once more, we can thank poor Al Gore.


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