The Day After Tomorrow. Where will you be?
The movie The Day After Tomorrow created a huge hoo-ha when it first appeared in the theatres. The show not only generated huge responses from the general public such as moviegoers, but also to climatologists and other scientists, politicians and advocacy groups.
In the article, ‘Before and after the day after tomorrow: A U.S. study of climate change risk perception’, Leiserowitz examines the following questions behind the movie,
‘What impact, if any, did the film have on public risk perceptions and conceptual models of climate change?’
‘Did the film make moviegoers more or less willing to take personal actions to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions?’
‘Did it change their political priorities or voting intentions?’
Public risk perception of global climate change
Even though the movie might have exaggerated events that lacked scientific truth, it provided an avenue that allowed climatologist to explain the different concepts and created awareness about global warming.
It gave the audience a “teachable moment”, seen by climatologist as ‘ an opportunity to not only critique the film but to more constructively educate the public about climate change’. The movie was also a contributing factor and a strong influence towards the watcher’s awareness and attitude towards global warming, allowing them to perceive global warming as a threat.
Conceptual Models of climate change
The movie gave the audience a brief overview that there is a threshold towards the climate system, that the climate system is only substantial and stable within certain limits before collapsing.
Climate change is still perceived as an unpredictable system, especially since it is based on the audience’s own experience and understanding of the unpredictable daily weather. Apart from that, they are unable to predict any further consequences, and unable to depicter what would happen next.
Individuals are seen to be more willing to make their stand on reducing the cause towards global warming. They show interest in doing their part by either reducing one’s own emission, willingness to join an organization to promote global warming awareness, taking up a stand to politicians, and spreading the importance of conservation via word of mouth. ‘The more important an issue is perceived to be, the more people talk about it, which in turn leads to an increase in perceived issue importance, and so on, in a positive feedback loop’.
Politics and voting
Moviegoers are more prone to have a higher level of worry and concern about global warming after watching the movie. They also acquired the knowledge about the drastic measures global warming can cause. The movie also encouraged audiences to be more involved with the issue of climate change, and be engaged in social, personal and political actions. Thus, audiences are more skeptical about the people they want to run the government. Items such as whether the government are helping the environment, or trusting the government to tell them the truth, became a factor.
The influence of the movie towards audiences
Impact on public risk perceptions? Check.
Impact on conceptual models of climate change? Check.
Individual actions to address global warming? Check.
Influence towards voters preferences? Check.
Apart from the scientific accuracy and political implications of the film aside, I personally felt that The Day After Tomorrow was a good movie. It is a Hollywood Blockbuster ‘popcorn movie’ after all, with exceptional good visual effects. Two thumbs up to the filmmakers for sparking the interest of such a huge audience!
Have you watched the movie The Day After Tomorrow? If so, how did the movie create an impact on you? Did it change your perception about the consequences of global warming and climate change? If you hadn’t watched it, does the thought of this huge catastrophic event (fingers crossing that it remains fictional) spark your interest into helping society with recycling and saving the environment?
Leiserowitz, A. (2004). Before and after the day after tomorrow: A U.S. study of climate change risk perception. Environment, 46(9), 22-37. Available at <http://environment.yale.edu/leiserowitz/pubs.html>
The Day After Tomorrow Photo. Available at <http://www.popartuk.com/g/l/lglg0078.jpg>