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bring back the wolf

Went to see The Day after Tomorrow yesterday, thinking it would probably be less depressing than my first-choice film that night (a lesbian S/M sex comedy). Required watching for the apocalypse watcher, with wow-shots drawn from the golden age of J G Ballard covers, gleeful orgies of iconic landmark destruction and a genuinely chilling moment as Ian Holm watches the disaster beginning on an inadequate computer in an underfunded research centre miles from anywhere. Then a storm surge somewhat implausibly engulfs New York and we're back on familiar territory with a thump. Only America could make a jolly, optimisic film about a mass extinction event. Through the forest of estranged fathers, shy young lovers and cancer children there's the occasional glimpse of the loss of life and world-as-we-know-it, but casualties are mostly glossed over so chirpily that the occasional corpse just looks embarassing. Meanwhile the main characters flirt with (but don't experience) loss while plot-driven threats, stupidity and wild exaggeration try desperately to make it look as if they are in danger. They aren't, of course (this is Hollywood) and the stupidity just gets annoying: you don't have to ignore a dirty 30cm gash to die of blood poisoning, you don't burn books if you have bookshelves, people can easily freeze to death without the help of supercooled air (!) from the Troposphere, and three scrawny wolves escaped from a zoo are hardly a credible threat. Cold-weather portrayal/survival looked TV-movie sloppy, too, in close up. Some of the long shots, though... I would have swopped any number of cheesy CGI wolves for a tidal bore sweeping up the Hudson River, fleets of trawlers disappearing into a massive low pressure sink, or a real rainstorm, the sort that's blinding. Still, until the next blockbuster it's got everyone debating and/or denying the dangers of climate change, so, good enough.

Poll #308722 pick your own climate apocalypse

With all this on my mind, folk of the internet, please pick your climate apocalypse scenario. Of the five options, one is only moderately apocalyptic, one is unlikely to be much of a bother to anyone except the wandering jew, and at least one is arguably already happening, but which do you adhere to? You may pick your favourite, or the one you think is most likely.

Chaos will out: Bigger, more terrible storms, increasing in severity, frequency; areas of serious weather danger like Tornado Alley and Andra Pradesh increasingly uninhabitable; chaotic weather pushes the world into permanent disaster.
Linear projection: Increase in temperature continues or increases; fight against desertification becomes a failing rearguard action; forests brown, plains become dustbowls; world collapses into food crisis, forced migration and species extinctions.
Tidy correction: An environmental effect (e.g. melting ice dumping into ocean currents) triggers a mini ice age, giving us the chance to experiment with frost-resistant crops, wear fashionable mittens and reintroduce the wolf to N. Europe.
Sudden collapse: The world gets suddenly hotter; increase in carbon dioxide and water vapour triggers a positive feedback loop; after a very brief interval to wonder what went wrong a runaway greenhouse effect extinguishes all life on earth.
Normalisation: Our climate becomes more stable as the planet gradually cools over time; there will be no more ice ages; over the millenia, weather will become more stable and boring, until it finally loses momentum and stops altogether.

If you want to run this experiment in a more measured fashion, climateprediction.net are running a Seti-type "large ensemble" experiment. Download one of two climate models and see where the world is going.


16th Jun, 2004 15:00 (UTC)
perhaps I meant
A storm surge engulphs New York somewhat implausibly. Could be I've been exposed to too many pictures of tropical storm damage while working at Oxfam, but all it just looked wrong; the water was too clean, there were no bodies or debris. And then it all froze and still none of the skyscrapers fell down. I mean, I accept that skyscrapers are pretty well built, but ....
16th Jun, 2004 16:00 (UTC)
Re: perhaps I meant
Not having seen the film yet, I probably shouldn't comment...but from the trailers, it certainly looks like a Waterworld submarine-through-a-skyscraper height of rushing water which turns into an A.I.-styled ice block.

In such an entirely fantastical event - the water moving at speed would certainly crush weakly-built buildings whose debris should certainly badly pummel the better-built skyscrapers. With ice...I entirely agree, the structure should collapse from snapping support girders and the like.
17th Jun, 2004 04:12 (UTC)
Re: perhaps I meant
the water came into NY high enough to flood streets up to two buses deep, which would give us a surge of (google google) over 60 feet above sea level I think. Of course, the storm was supposed to the biggest ever ...

and it all came in as one big wave in what looked otherwise like just a nasty tropical rainstorm, which is why all the reviews are calling it a tidal wave.