I was shocked and amused that Patrick J. Michaels's lengthy May 16 Outlook article dissecting the scientific fallacies and partisan spin of "The Day After Tomorrow" failed to mention the two most important facts about the film: that it is a big-budget summer destruction epic, and that it was directed by Roland Emmerich.
As your paper's own Stephen Hunter could have told Michaels, Emmerich made his mark on cinema with a series of blockbusters notable more for their large budgets and commercial success than filmic quality or connection to reality (see "Stargate" and "Independence Day").
I suppose I will give Michaels the benefit of the doubt of total cultural obliviousness and naivete on this one. Otherwise, his treating as serious both the science of a summer popcorn flick and the comments of a film producer and Fox PR man would allow me to write his article off as just the same kind of partisan hackery he spends 1,700 words attacking.
-- Jacob Kramer-Duffield
To Patrick J. Michaels I say: What's the big deal? If this movie can spark debate on global warming, that is a good thing. Considering that the Bush administration has been relying more heavily on politics than science in its decision-making, and that it is more focused on energy production than conservation, new attention to global warming and how we can minimize its effects is warranted.
I find it amusing that Michaels latches on to the summer blockbuster as a potent political vehicle. Michaels blames " 'The China Syndrome,' another scientific impossibility," for having a lasting political effect: no global warming-friendly reactors have been built since Three Mile Island. I seem to remember something called Chernobyl. I would think that the horror of Chernobyl and its effects over the past 18 years have done more to sway public opinion than the movie ever did. Oh, and maybe it's also a factor that we haven't figured out what to do with toxic radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.
On the flip side, if Michaels is right and these tales of fantasy do have political repercussions, what about movies such as "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon"? Did those apocalyptic tales of "planet-killer" asteroids swing any votes over to Bush in hopes that his touting of a missile defense system could prepare us for this potential catastrophe?
-- Maurice Werner