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Behind apocalyptic hyperbole of Hollywoodlies food for thought on global warming

28.05.2004


Instantaneous ice ages, grapefruit-size hail and tidal waves – all courtesy of global warming – are being served up as Memorial Day weekend entertainment in movie theaters.



The side order: A little scientific food for thought.

“The Day After Tomorrow,” a star-studded movie that paints a vivid picture of global climatic catastrophe, is a simplistic look at the complex and real issue of a potential outcome of global warming, said David Skole, professor and director of MSU’s Center for Global Change and Earth Observations.


“This is a complicated problem – it’s not like a movie where it’s catastrophic overnight, but there is some science behind it,” Skole said. “It stems from abrupt climate change. Changes in storm frequency and intensity; changes in water availability; changes of pests and related disease – that’s the story.”

Scientists across the globe, including Skole, struggle to better quantify and understand local impacts of changes in global climate patterns. Skole has been a member of the Academies of Science committee to review the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

“We must not forget the literary license which Hollywood takes in making such films,” Skole said. “While they do a lot to enhance viewer appeal, I think there is some scientific basis in the topic, even if the details are sometimes way wrong. It’s important to note that a movie can get away with these wild depictions precisely because the science of abrupt climate change is only in its infancy.”

Contact: David Skole, professor and director of MSU’s Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, (517) 355-1778, skole@msu.edu, www.globalchange.msu.edu/facstaff/skole.html, www.globalchange.msu.edu/facstaff/skole.html

Sue Nichols | MSU
Further information:
http://newsroom.msu.edu/site/indexer/2037/content.htm
http://www.nap.edu/books/0309088658/html/
http://www.globalchange.msu.edu/facstaff/skole.html

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