"The Day after
Skating with barbarians
By MALCOLM REYNOLDS
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There is no question that Roland Emmerich, writer and director of "The Day after Tomorrow," made a visually superb film. When I walked out of the theater into a wet, balmy Washington afternoon, I was surprised to see neither snow nor ice. The film felt real well, the snowstorm did, anyway.
Mankind has only a vague understanding of weather and climate. Man's own history is shrouded in secrets, for that matter, and even the parts that should be clear are often grossly misinterpreted for purposes of power and plunder. Something similar happened to the science underlying "The Day after Tomorrow."
As the film points out, there was an Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. Yet the filmmakers try hard to blame the rapid return of the ice on "global warming," i.e., humanity's alleged overuse of fossil fuels. While the explanation certainly sounds plausible melting ice caps disturb sea currents, mayhem ensues there is one major problem. What caused the first Ice Age? Were there humans with SUVs back then or factories, or air conditioners? If Ice Ages are something "Mother Earth" does every ten millennia or so, how is it our fault this time?
Another obvious gaffe is centered in the physics of it all. It is a known fact that ice occupies more volume than water. During the first Ice Age, many areas that are today shallow seas and oceans were dry lowlands, as enormous amounts of water were tied up in the glaciers. When the glaciers eventually melted, they created seas and lakes, and established the shape of continents and islands as we know them. On at least two occasions in the film, we are shown that the continents have retained their shape but are now frozen solid. Yet the sea around New York City is also frozen. So which is it? Can that much water turn to ice, yet the world's oceans somehow fail to contract?
Scientific ignorance aside, the moral dimension of the film is its most disturbing aspect. It flat-out treats the potential of the greatest loss of human life ever recorded as a "purification" of the Earth. In the last frame, one of the astronauts on the space station (presumably the ISS) comments, "Have you ever seen air so clear?" The whole of Western civilization, including the astronaut's homeland, perishes overnight, and that is what he says?
All right, so many Gaia-lovers actually do hate humanity and wish for its demise. But how many trees, those precious oxygen-givers, would likewise perish under the ice and snow? And how about the millions of animals, including birds, including even those irreplaceable spotted owls? Not to mention all those lovable, cuddly insects? All jokes aside, while anyone looking at photos of central Antarctica can appreciate the stark purity of snow and ice, that beauty comes at a price: life.
There is nothing wrong with caring for the environment, but it is downright insane to wish for the demise of humanity. Admittedly, men have proven to be both incredibly creative and incredibly destructive, to each other and to the planet we live on. But those "environmentalists" who wish for genocide so the planet could be better off represent the very darkest reaches of man's destructiveness.
Pray tell, what is moral about refusing to eat anything made from animals, yet advocating the murder of humans while being a human? If these people believe the Earth is overpopulated, why don't they just commit suicide? Well, because they would rather see other people do the dying.
Morally elevated, indeed.
Perhaps we can see why most self-described environmentalists are not noted for opposing war, as anyone who truly cares about the environment should. While a modern SUV gets up to 14 miles a gallon, the fuel efficiency of an M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank is measured in gallons per mile. A modern military does not march; it drives. The American military flies, too. How many billions of barrels of jet fuel are expended every day just by U.S. government aircraft? And when all those mighty engines are marshaled to wage war, one must add all the megajoules of energy that the exploding bombs, missiles, and shells release into the atmosphere. There is nothing pretty about that picture, for environmentalists or any normal human.
During the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, U.S.-led air raiders destroyed several oil refineries and power plants, releasing enormous clouds of toxic gases into the atmosphere. The thermal output of the bombing affected the region for several years, causing erratic weather patterns: floods, droughts, and oddly timed blizzards, to name just a few.
In the run-up to the invasion of 2003, Iraq had been bombed off and on since 1991, and heaven only knows what environmental havoc the 12 years of bombing must have caused. In addition, the West's democratic humanitarian blockade went far toward destabilizing and poisoning the environment, and caused the death of nearly a million Iraqis. (Those democratic humanitarian murders, of course, are never mentioned by decent democratic humanitarians.)
Modern war kills not only civilians but also the environment. If there is any disagreement on that question, it's over the degree of severity. Whether it's joules of thermal energy released, or gallons of gasoline consumed, I wager statistics will show they outstrip the costs of millions of suburban SUVs. Yet the environmentalists drive their war on SUVs to a fever pitch, while undertaking no war at all on War. The purported eco-champion Al Gore who loudly promoted "The Day after Tomorrow" has never seen a "humanitarian intervention" he did not like. One doesn't wish to jump to conclusions, but could that be because war kills people, and that's supposed to be good for Gaia?
The greatest irony of all is that environmentalists usually ally themselves with the statist forces on the Left, from social democrats to outright Communists. Their preferred mode of action is political campaigning for greater government regulation of private enterprise. Yet the state is by definition wasteful of resources, and its war machine despoils both lives and nature. Only private enterprise, driven by human ingenuity and initiative, can provide alternate energy sources that reduce the negative environmental impact of civilization.
Gottfried Daimler engineered a workable four-stroke internal-combustion engine, making methane-belching horses and coal-burning steamers obsolete. Nikola Tesla came up with the concept of alternate-current electricity, enabling millions to stop burning oil, candles, and gas. Surely there are other Daimlers and Teslas out there, people who can create something better, more efficient, and less disruptive than the technology we are using today. If the Earth really froze the day after tomorrow, what are the odds of someone like them surviving to make things better? Let the champions of "creative destruction" and advocates of mass genocide chew on that a little.
Only civilization can limit its own damage; barbarism can only make it worse. Even the makers of "The Day after Tomorrow" understand that: one survivor clings onto a Gutenberg Bible, rescuing it from water and ice, and also from the fire his band builds to stay alive.
Alas, we are living in an age when civilization is failing and barbarism is making inroads everywhere. That is a peril far greater than the return of glaciers or tidal waves and given that it is man-made, the catastrophe of our time is unquestionably mankind's responsibility.
Ah, but a sure sign of barbarism is the widespread abdication of responsibility. And as long as people swallow the junk science and garbage politics provided by visually stunning pieces of "advocacy entertainment" such as "The Day after Tomorrow," there is no reason to suppose that the abdication will cease.
June 2, 2004
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