(CNSNews.com) - Former Vice President Al Gore warned of a "climate emergency" on Tuesday as he joined forces with political activists from MoveOn.org to promote a Hollywood disaster film that shows global warming creating an ice age and causing massive destruction.
The Day After Tomorrow , a 20th Century Fox production set for release on Memorial Day, stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid. The $125-million movie will offer "a rare opportunity to have a national conversation about what truly should be seen as a global climate emergency," Gore told reporters.
"I hope this movie will provide many opportunities for in-depth conversations about what this issue is really all about," Gore added. Others participating in Tuesday's teleconference are also planning to use the timing of the film's release to attack the Bush administration's environmental policies.
Rolland Emmerich directed The Day After Tomorrow . His disaster/adventure film portfolio also includes Godzilla and Independence Day.
Emmerich's latest offering depicts global climate change wreaking havoc on the Earth by causing a rapid ice age in much of the world. Los Angeles is slammed by massive tornados, New York City receives depths of snow nearly as high as skyscrapers, New Delhi, India, is also consumed by snowstorms and Tokyo is pounded by giant hailstorms.
Gore was joined at the press conference by Peter Shurman, executive director of the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org, and Dan Schrag, a professor of paleoclimatology at Harvard University. According to Schurman, The Day After Tomorrow is the "movie President Bush does not want you to see."
But it is Gore's promotion of the film that has prompted critics from both sides of the climate-change debate to ridicule his efforts.
Gregg Easterbrook, a senior editor at New Republic Online and one who believes that human-caused climate change is real, said Gore is doing a disservice to the environmental cause by affiliating himself with a Hollywood disaster film.
"Once Gore was a serious thinker on environmental issues and diligently sought out top-notch advice ... Now Gore appears ready to affiliate his reputation with a cheapo, third-rate disaster movie that makes Fantastic Voyage seem like a peer-reviewed technical paper," Easterbrook wrote.
Easterbrook assailed the movie's "imbecile-caliber" science: "By presenting global warming in a laughably unrealistic way, the movie will only succeed in making audiences think that climate change is a big joke, when in fact the real science case for greenhouse-gas reform gets stronger all the time."
Easterbrook fears the greenhouse effect will be trivialized through its connection to a disaster movie, which he believes is "scientifically illiterate." And ultimately, The Day After Tomorrow may convince audiences that the global warming threat is just another Hollywood gimmick, Easterbrook stated. "Unfortunately it may not be," he added.
Gore called a 'sock puppet' for MoveOn.org
Easterbrook also criticized Gore for his close affiliation with MoveOn.org, the liberal group propped up by huge donations from billionaire financier George Soros for the express purpose of defeating President Bush.
"It's easy to see why MoveOn.org wants the reflection of the new movie's limelight; wild exaggeration is a good fundraising tool. But if Gore associates himself with this mindless film, he will have completed his descent from serious thinker and national leader to MoveOn.org's sock puppet," Easterbrook wrote.
"Why would Al Gore do this to himself?" he asked.
David Rothbard, president of the Washington, D.C.-based free market group, Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), rejects what he sees as climate change alarmism.
"Since Al Gore had such success peddling science fiction as reality in his book Earth in the Balance, it's no surprise he's all ozoned-up about a global warming movie with similar fantasy-as-fact foundations," Rothbard told CNSNews.com.
"Gore talks about a "global climate emergency," but with scientific evidence mounting against any catastrophic man-made warming, the only global emergency would be if this movie resuscitates an otherwise dying Kyoto (global warming) treaty," Rothbard said.
"With an epic doomsday movie like The Day After Tomorrow , green leaders have finally found the proper genre in which to market their end-is-near alarmism," he added.
'Fictional' Bush environmental policy
Gore acknowledged that the movie contained fictional elements, but he charged that the Bush administration's climate policy was even more fictional.
"There are two works of fiction that we have to deal with. One is the movie and the other is the Bush administration's presentation of global warming," Gore told reporters. He said he has read the script but not yet seen the film.
Gore explained that the movie's timeline of events is fictional; but he said it's "accurate in giving the impression that the consequences can be extremely serious.
"The Bush administration is in some ways even more fictional than the movie -- in trying to convince people that there is no real problem, that there is no real degree of certainty on the part of scientists about the issue and sort of accepting the big polluters' argument that nothing should be done to change the current practices of dumping pollution in an unrestrained way into the atmosphere," he added.
"This is the kind of dishonest behavior that can lead to an unhealthy debate in our democracy not dissimilar from the kind of misleading impressions that were created in the run up to the Iraq war," he added.
Gore warned of future dire consequences for the planet if climate change issues are not addressed.
[There will be] more vulnerability to tropical diseases like dengue fever and malaria in higher latitudes, rising sea levels and areas threatened by storm surges that have not been in the past," Gore warned.
He called climate change "an emergency that seems to be unfolding in slow motion, but it actually is occurring very swiftly -- not as swiftly as the movie portrays, but swiftly in the context of human history," he added.
Gore said he believes people are becoming increasingly convinced of the real dangers associated with climate change. "I do think that more and more people are feeling it in their gut. They are listening to their parents and grandparents tell them the weather is very different now than when they were children," Gore said.
'Global warming isn't just a movie'
Green groups such as Environmental Defense, Rainforest Action Network, and Worldwatch Institute are also joining in the effort to promote climate educational activities, including the distribution of fliers at movies theaters on Memorial Day weekend.
"Global warming isn't just a movie. It's your future," the environmental groups declare in the flier.
They also are urging support for the Kyoto Protocol and U.S. Senate legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Both measures would restrict industrial greenhouse gases that some scientists believe is causing climate warming.
Gore and MoveOn.org will host a town hall meeting in New York City on May 24 featuring Al Franken and Robert Kennedy, Jr.
The National Resources Defense Council is teaming up with the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream company in a "Get the Scoop" campaign that will give free scoops of ice cream to people who sign a petition in support of the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill.
Climate change 'very likely' to happen
Dan Schrag, a professional of paleoclimatology at Harvard University, compared The Day After Tomorrow to other big-budget "earth science movies" such as Jurassic Park and The Core.
"But there is a very big difference, which is that although the effects of climate change -- and most importantly the time scale of climate change -- are exaggerated in this movie,
unlike those other movies, this is very likely going to happen," Schrag said.
"Climate change is real and it is going on," he added.
According to MoveOn.org's Schurman, the Bush administration has failed to act to prevent climate change because it is captive to the fossil fuel industries.
"President Bush's close ties to the oil and coal industry, Halliburton for example, apparently outweigh his duty to all of us to be a leader in preventing global warming," Schurman said.
According to MoveOn.org, the environmental groups have no affiliation with the movie. But Rothbard, of the free market group CFACT, believes the green movement will be disappointed by the movie's impact.
"While [environmentalists] may want people to view this movie like some kind of documentary on PBS or the Discovery Channel, hopefully it will be taken with the same seriousness as other upcoming summer flicks like Spider Man II or the new Harry Potter film," Rothbard said.
"Indeed, I expect many Americans, much to the environmentalists' chagrin, to be watching this movie at the drive-in with their SUV engines running and their trans-fatty buttered popcorn being washed down by a nice 32 ounce cola in a Styrofoam cup," he added.
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