April 29, 2004,
In the upcoming movie The Day After Tomorrow German director Roland Emmerich lets the glaciers roll over Manhattan following an abrupt change in climate. It's the third time his production company, Centropolis, has destroyed New York in recent years. They leveled it in Independence Day. They had a monster eat it in the Godzilla remake. Now they're freezing it. What do these guys have against New York City?
Plenty, if my theory is correct. New York, you see, is a symbol of the victory of capitalism. So if you want to make the point that capitalism has done terrible things and needs to be eradicated, the Big Apple will be your number one target.
This new movie is a case in point. The ice sheets that roll over Wall Street are caused by manmade global warming. You read that right. In some environmental alarmists' computer models, global warming threatens to shut down the Gulf Stream and bring a new ice age to Europe and North America. Al Gore, indeed, is so impressed by the argument that he told Variety, "The Day After Tomorrow presents us with a great opportunity to talk about the scientific realities of climate change. Millions of people will be coming out of theaters on Memorial Day weekend asking the question, 'Could this really happen?' I think we need to answer that question."
The answer to the former vice president's question is well known. It's about as likely as a 30-story-tall monster emerging from the depths. MIT's Carl Wunsch, a leading expert in ocean-circulation systems, said recently in a letter to Nature magazine that "The only way to produce an ocean circulation without a Gulf Stream is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the Earth's rotation, or both.... 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."
Even more succinctly, Canadian experts Andrew Weaver and Claude Hillaire-Marcel said in the April 26 issue of Science magazine, referring directly to the movie, "it is safe to say that global warming will not lead to the onset of a new ice age." But climate alarmists like Al Gore push this fantasy however implausible to blame greed and consumerism for the energy use and greenhouse gases they say threaten the planet. So New York, the icon of American capitalism, is the ideal target to underline the threat.
The film's website, reputedly the most expensive ever for a motion picture, contains some evidence of the filmmakers' motivation. In fact, the website is much more touchy-feely than you'd expect for a major action-adventure flick, suggesting some confusion about the target demographic. It asks visitors to submit profiles, answering such questions as "Your message to the world, given a billboard for one final day, what would you put or say on it?" Hidden among the thousands of profiles are the filmmaker's responses. Thanks to junkscience.com's Steve Milloy, we have some examples of answers to those questions.
For example, writer Jeffrey Nachmanoff said, "Out of 20 million species, why is there always one who has to go out and ruin it for the others?" Director Emmerich said, "No more Bush."
The 1998 Godzilla remake shows signs of being based on the same basic hostility to America's and man's success. Though in that movie it was a French nuclear test that created everyone's favorite building-chewing lizard, the environment had to have its revenge on America's most potent symbol. So sayonara, Chrysler Building. The filmmakers tried to cover this up with a silly story about Manhattan being the only island where the monster could possibly hide, somehow forgetting that Hong Kong was a tad more convenient for Godzilla's point of origin.
Note also that the French are the heroes in that movie: They recognize their mistakes and send a crack team of sophisticates to fix the problem. By contrast, the U.S. military's efforts keep failing because of arrogant commanders and political interference. Hmmm.
Even the relatively patriotic Independence Day carried the message, I think. We all cheered as American forces kicked some alien behind, but that was after all the cities had been destroyed. Really, it's an environmentalist's dream. The engines of capitalism are gone, so now we can rebuild the earth in a "responsible" fashion.
It's a terrible thing to ponder, but could filmmakers be motivated to destroy New York City with such regularity for the same reason that radical Islamists have launched their attacks there? Is it because they can't stand the fact that New York lives, eats, and breathes Western-style capitalism? Machiavelli once said that to win a war you should destroy the icons of your enemy's people.
Environmentalists and anti-capitalists aren't evil like terrorists, of course, but they are just as misguided. Capitalism has conquered disease, generated wealth, and brought a quality of life we could never achieve in the world that Greenpeace and Al Gore want. If those are good things, New York is a symbol of man's greatest achievements. Emmerich and his ilk owe New York a huge apology.
Iain Murray is a Senior Fellow specializing in environmental issues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.