Impacts of Global Warming in The Day After Tomorrow

Is global warming real or is it a hoax? Nobody can deny that the temperatures are continually rising each day. Consequently, climatologists are raising an alarm that global warming is a pressing environmental issue especially during the last forty years (IPCC 5). This phenomenon does not spare anyone since it comes with adverse effects on all the earth’s inhabitants. The implication is that it is the high time people start paying attention to the issue under discussion. Still, all hope is not lost, and thanks to Hollywood, it has become easier to educate the population on the catastrophic environmental disasters that may face the world in the not distant future if global warming persists. Roland Emmerich’s apocalyptic movie The Day After Tomorrow (2004) reinforces the views of the 2014 Report findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the abusive use of natural resources by human beings continues to jeopardize the earth’s balance by speeding up climate change and global warming. An analysis of the relationship between the causes and the consequences as the starting point of the solutions of the global warming issue reveals the need to adjust policies and create a higher level of awareness among the whole population of the planet.


The primary cause of global warming is greenhouse effect. Researchers are 95% confident that the major cause of global warming is greenhouses emissions (IPCC 6). The greenhouse gasses arise from human activities, and they include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons (IPCC 4). It is imperative to note that carbon dioxide is the primary substance that accrues in large quantities through most human activities. The increased emissions result in an excessive build-up of the gas which cause the trapping of heat in the earth’s insulating layer. The increasing use of automobiles, the rapid expansion of industries, combustion of fossil fuels and other exploitative land uses such as deforestation are the primary sources of the greenhouse gasses (IPCC 47). The latter cause the gradual warming of the earth resulting in rise in the atmospheric temperatures.

The emission of the greenhouse gasses disturbs the radiative balance of the atmosphere. The movie The Day After Tomorrow illustrates that the destructive human activities that rise due to the growing population result in more harm on the land, water and air (IPCC 46). Some activities that offer comfortable and easy life such as demand for more resources, technological advancements, and increased fossil combustion are proving to be more harmful than human beings can anticipate. Although the changes are currently small, projections show that they will speed up in the next fifty to one hundred years. The climate changes that the viewer sees in The Day after Tomorrow happen within a short time, and the time span may be unrealistic, but the possibilities of the events augur with the sentiments of climatologists. Research shows that carbon emissions will grow by 70% to 120% between 2010 and 2100 (IPCC 23). Continued emissions of greenhouse gasses will see the temperatures rise and the earth will become hotter than ever before.

Consequences of Global Warming

Research shows that the continued emission of greenhouse gasses has far-reaching, long-lasting and devastating effects on the planet Earth. Global warming poses a threat to people and ecosystems, and if left unchecked, it will result in severe and irreversible impacts by the year 2100 (IPCC 49). The main star in the movie The Day After Tomorrow Professor Jack Hall (played by Dennis Quaid) is a climatologist, and he equates the climate changes associated with global warming to terror or a pandemic (Emmerich). The implication of Hall’s sentiments is that the discussed phenomenon disrupts all aspects of life as individuals currently know it, and this is the beginning of worse things to come.

One of the most significant challenges posed by global warming is a rise in sea levels. The outcome is the flooding of low-lying coastal areas as has been the case over the two past millennia in the areas such as Western Pacific, the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice sheet (IPCC 42-43). In the discussed film, Hall explains that the long-term scenarios of global warming mean that glaciers and the polar ice caps would melt as oceans’ temperatures increase causing the oceanic currents to shift (IPCC 48). Although the professor asserts that the change in the currents or the extreme precipitation could cause dramatic climate alterations resulting in the onset of another ice age, climatologists do not say anything about that. However, despite the numerous scientific distortions, the movie illustrates the scientific facts on the effects of rising sea levels as the viewer gets to witness the Larsen B ice shelf breaking up due to the ocean circulation changes (Emmerich). Moreover, the North Atlantic current results in severe cooling that paves way for a super storm. Climatologists affirm that the outcome of the rising sea level is that it leads to landslides, destructions of marine life, destruction of infrastructure and other critical events and some lands may disappear altogether.

Continued emissions lead to changes in weather patterns or extreme weather events. As such, many parts of the world are continuing to experience hurricanes, floods, giant cyclones and other unusual catastrophes (IPCC 53). Thus, although it may be tempting to dismiss the scientific claims as unrealistic and exaggerated, the movie The Day After Tomorrow demonstrates what climatologists mean when they try to explain the effects of global warming. The film shows that the discussed phenomenon results in some abrupt and unforeseen climate changes just as the climatologist affirm (IPCC 53). For example, there is flooding in Manhattan, New York, and Long Island; huge hailstones emerge in Tokyo; Los Angeles experiences Tornadoes, and other northern countries face severe storms (Emmerich). The movie is thought-provoking as it shows that the extreme weather events are not unique to any nation, rather they tend to affect the whole world. The adverse natural disasters cause mortality, affect the well-being and the mental health of individuals as they try to come to terms with the occurrences, destruction of property, and the alterations of the ecosystem and the water supply.

The greenhouse effect causes heat waves of higher frequency and duration. The heat waves result in uncontrollable forest fires, which undermine the global food security as food cannot grow in hostile climates (IPCC 53-54). The implication is that both the humans and the wildlife would not have enough to eat due to a breakdown of the food chain. Terrestrial, marine and freshwater species continue to face disruptions in their lives as they need to shift continually causing a significant alteration in the composition of the ecosystem (IPCC 51). Heat-related mortalities are also on the rise coupled with instances of ill health resulting from the waterborne illnesses due to the flooding (IPCC 57). Heat waves lead to the loss of life, forests, depletion of water sources, crops, and other resources. The natural and human systems are sensitive to the ongoing climate changes, and hence the need to curtail the worst case scenario illustrated by Emmerich’s movie. 

There are differences in vulnerability and exposure to the greenhouse effect. These variances contribute to the increasing social inequalities. Although the global warming affects both the developed and the developing countries, the poor people of all nations suffer most (IPCC 54). Thus, a change in the flora and fauna due to rising temperatures would cause severe and irreversible damages to the ecosystem thus hindering economic development. The implication is that poor individuals would be unable to cater for their needs and they lack the resources to insure themselves and their properties against the threats posed by global warming (IPCC 64). As such, they often suffer adversely from the destruction of property that arises from the extreme events caused by continued emissions resulting in humanitarian disasters.


Preventing global warming requires strategies to stabilize the greenhouse concentrations. It is pointless to wait for real-world extreme global warming events illustrated in The Day After Tomorrow to come up with the urgent measures to avert the crisis. Just like real life climatologists, Hall gives some suggestions of what the world should do to prevent “a major climate shift” by gradually reducing emissions (Emmerich). The title “The Day After Tomorrow” suggests that a crisis is coming, and the world needs to prepare. While it is improbable that the world will witness another ice age, it is indisputable that people need to tackle the issue of global warming urgently. As Hall declares, if the world does not act now to curb greenhouse emissions, it will be too late. Rather than wait for solutions like the evacuation of the southern states of the USA as it happened in the movie, it is crucial to take measures to prevent global warming (Emmerich). There is a critical need for immediate reforms by mobilizing collective action at a social and political level to elevate global warming as a universal priority.

At the individual social awareness level, people can adopt some friendly practices that do not encourage the emission of greenhouse gasses. Climatologists affirm that it is the high time that individuals started considering the need for a change in “behavior, lifestyle and culture (IPCC 26).” For example, people should stop the use of combustible fuels including coal, gas, and oil replacing them with renewable energy such as nuclear power, the wind and solar power, biofuels and natural gas. Moreover, it is crucial to desist from cutting trees, since deforestation hinders the absorption of carbon dioxide by the plants, and this means that there is more carbon dioxide and less oxygen in the atmosphere. It is crucial to spread the awareness on global warming through education to ensure that people adopt some environmentally friendly behaviors such as not using fossil fuels, especially in transport, industries and building sectors (IPCC 46-47). For example, in the discussed movie, Jack Hall drives an electric-powered vehicle, and this shows his concern for the environment implying that he leads by example (Emmerich). Furthermore, it is crucial to minimize the use of electricity by opting for appliances that save on electrical energy and also learn to switch off the lights when not in use. The implication is that small changes in the lives of people all over the world could go a long way to averting the impending disaster in the form of global warming.

The government has the mandate to prevent global warming. Cooperation is crucial at a national, sub-national and international levels (IPCC 76). The government should show active involvement in the quest to curb global warning by managing risk information and financing. Climatologists affirm that some governments are indifferent because they only claim to support the climate change but do not implement sustainable climate policies (IPCC 76). In the discussed movie, Professor Hall on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presents his ideas to the members of a conference that he is attending. However, the Vice-President and other members of the conference are not ready to make any dramatic changes, because they feel that it is too expensive (Emmerich). The film wants to show that climatologists may have great ideas to avert climate changes, but the government may fail to cooperate until it is too late.

Governments and other stakeholders can implement some policies with the aim of reducing vulnerability and exposure (IPCC 80). For example, the former can introduce carbon taxes especially because the industries are the most notorious for carbon emissions. Moreover, the government should consider taxing the fossil fuels, since it would encourage individuals to adopt renewable energy sources (IPCC 80-81). Moreover, it is crucial to implement regulatory approaches and information measures such as energy efficiency standards and labeling programs, especially on electric appliances, to help individuals make informed choices when purchasing.

Overall, curbing global warming begins from understanding the causes and the effects. This phenomenon is a cycle which starts with the emission of greenhouse gasses resulting in increased sea levels, adverse weather events, heat waves and slower economic growth. The outcome is the loss of life, destruction of property, the ecosystem and marine life, increased poverty among other hazards. Although there are skeptics who still believe that global warming is a hoax, the evidence is there. The mass media is one of the ways of trying to alert the population to the reality of the greenhouse effect. For instance, The Day After Tomorrow merges some scientific truths and scientific distortions with the intention of making it more thrilling and, at the same time, raise consciousness and concern about global warming. It is the high time that individuals realized that they all have a part to play at an individual and political level to help alleviate the magnitude of the process.

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