The storyline begins with a chunk of ice the size of Scotland falling into the Antarctic sea. It continues, at breathtaking speed, with hailstones as big as grapefruit battering Tokyo, hurricanes pounding Hawaii, snowstorms in Delhi and tornadoes whipping through Los Angeles. New York and London are plunged into a new ice age.
Welcome to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, which depicts climate change as a dramatic series of disasters sweeping across the world.
The makers insist the film, starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, has its basis in scientific fact, but climate researchers have questioned the way it represents the speed and manner of climate change.
Critics say the film is seriously misleading and could cause the public to be become inured to the threat posed by climate change when they see it being trivialised by the same Hollywood director who made Independence Day.
But the science adviser behind the movie has hit back at its critics, arguing that The Day After Tomorrow, due for worldwide release on 28 May, will do more to raise the public awareness of the greatest environmental issue of our times than any number of research papers and documentaries.
Michael Molitor, a former climate change consultant, said he had already attracted more media interest over his connection with the film than at any time in 20 years of working on the science and politics of global warming. "The amount of commentary by climate scientists on this film has been unbelievable and I find it almost comical," Dr Molitor told The Independent. "This film could actually do more in helping us move us in the right direction than all the scientific work and all the [US congressional] testimonies put together."
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