Knowledge Analysis of The Day After Tomorrow
Most people rely heavily on the news for the weather forecast but are unfazed when the weatherman’s predictions are false. Society believes in science to diagnose and cure diseases, but sees nature and climate change as unpredictable. However, the fact that the effects of global warming have shown a divergent climate trend has caused people to take heed of the scientific voice. In the case of climate change, people must see to believe because their knowledge rolodex cannot comprehend scientific predictions.
In the movie, The Day After Tomorrow (Emmerich, Roland and Jeffrey Nachmanoff 2004) a Paleoclimatologist named Jack Hall sheds light on the future of global warming at the Global Warming Conference in New Delhi, India in front of politicians, presidents, and leaders of multiple countries. The Vice President of the United States doubts Mr. Hall’s scientific evidence that states the global warming can trigger a cooling trend. However, a series of different sources based on a forecast model and current abnormal climate happenings produce Mr. Hall’s findings. When ocean temperatures start to drop by thirteen degrees, snow falls in typically warm countries, and climate disasters such as hailstorms and tornadoes occur, the President of the United States wants to speak with Jack Hall about his findings (Emmerich, Roland and Jeffrey Nachmanoff 2004).
The Day After Tomorrow does not allow for the falsifiability of Jack Hall’s claim but instead portrays the scientists as all knowing experts who should always be trusted. Jack Hall originally makes the claim that shifts in the weather pattern would occur in one-hundred years. Even though Hall’s prediction of a modern day Ice Age was real, the time phrase that he predicted was false. His ability to predict the event but not the period shows the limitations of science and humans. Humans do not have the capacity to predict accurately when and what will happen in the future, but they can make close predictions. Hall’s theory is that the North Atlantic current is changing because melting polar ice has caused a desalination point which is going to create a climate shift (Emmerich, Roland and Jeffrey Nachmanoff 2004). The movie enables his theory to be instantly trusted even though there is not a mass amount of knowledge to back his theory. This lack of knowledge causes people, especially political figures, to doubt his claim and not act accordingly to protect the citizens of the United States.
Since this movie is happening in real time, the producers skip a lot of the norms and practices of proving a theory. There is not enough time to test a theory and write a peer-reviewed journal article because results are needed immediately. Thus, there is a lot of missing information and lack of knowledge to prove the scientific claims of Jack Hall. In spite of his role as the leading protagonist, if one looks at this movie through a critical lens there are a lot of missing components. The viewer immediately trusts that Mr. Hall’s theory is correct and wants the politicians to listen to him. The producers evoke emotion and confidence in Mr. Hall’s predictions through drama, intense music, and images of peculiar climate disasters. However, if this were not a movie society would not have been so easily persuaded by his claims. There are always people who do not believe in the results of scientific theories, like the Vice President in the movie. Major thinkers and political figures scrutinize scientific theories. This scrutiny is necessary for politicians to make effective policy that accurately provides the best outcome for the most constituents.
The Day After Tomorrow highlights a fascinating aspect of knowledge analysis: society only wants scientific evidence when it is convenient and directly affects their livelihood. To have knowledge is to have power, but power can only be accessed if people believe in one’s knowledge. This movie shows that scientific theories can be useful in helping to understand current and future climate events. On the other hand, the film displays how only a small sub-section of the United States population know and believe scientific theories to be true.
How does a scientist alert society about a possible happening? The movie does give the viewer an answer to this question but instead shows us that we as United States citizens must listen more to our academics. Scientists and researchers alike spend hours and hours on topics that the ordinary citizen will never understand. It is our duty as United States citizens to listen, learn and become more active citizens to better the welfare of our country. Climate change is not a new phenomenon, and its adverse effects are not shocking anymore. We must use the knowledge that we have to create change so the exaggerated movie plots, like that in The Day After Tomorrow do not come to fruition. Knowledge is everywhere; people just need to stop looking through a biased lens.
Emmerich, Roland and Jeffrey Nachmanoff. 2004. The Day After Tomorrow. United States: Centropolis Entertainment, Lionsgate Films and The Mark Gordon Company.