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29.4.04

"The Day After Tomorrow"

Via "SpoogeDemon" in the comments to this John Cole post, it looks like the NASA "don't talk about global warming" memo story wasn't quite as it appeared:

New York Times Fans Global Warming Film Controversy With NASA Memos

... According to NASA sources the New York Times article wasn't quite accurate. Indeed they got the polarity of the email's intent reversed. There was indeed an email and it was quoted correctly.

However, that email message had to do with NASA employees who had worked on the film (as individuals) proactively seeking interviews by the media in conjunction with the movie. The email had nothing to do with concerns over the editorial content or any attempt to limit response by NASA employees if asked.

The film's directors had apparently worked with NASA's Earth Science people on the script, but, after working with NASA personnel for several years, they failed to eventually sign a Space Act agreement. Signing such an agreement, as was the case with films such as "Mission to Mars" and "Armageddon" is a standing requirement for any project NASA cooperates with. In fact, word has it that NASA is waiting for the film to be released to see if it illegally uses the agency's logo.


The story implies that NASA would be involved in publicity for movies that did sign an agreement. I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, it seems kind of sketchy for a publicly-funded agency to be marketing some company's products. On the other hand, movies can provide a good "hook" for getting people interested in a topic (consider the ammount of discussion about the real meaning of the Crucifixion spurred by The Passion). That seems to be what Al Gore and the other environmentalists that Cole scoffs at are planning to do with their publicity event on the film's opening day. I certainly hope that they'll be proactive in distancing themselves from the particular scientific misrepresentations in the movie -- though they'll understandably be concerned about the media framing them as debunkers in the way I described in my first post on the topic ("Al Gore Says Global Warming Claims Exaggerated" or something like that).

Since the event will be in late May, I think we can trust that people like Cole will be spared having to tell us "it was cold today, therefore talking about global warming is silly." Then again, the movie seems to be based on the idea that global warming will disrupt the Earth's climate mechanisms in such a way that New York winds up having another ice age. So maybe if May 24 is hot, the skeptics can say "it was hot today, and The Day After Tomorrow says global warming will make it colder, therefore talking about global warming -- or at least using TDAT as a hook to talk about it -- is silly."

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