I think Bill McKibben gets this just right.
The new global warming-themed movie, The Day After Tomorrow, is basically harmless summer entertainment. The sudden natural disasters it posits as a result of global warming, while not completely impossible, are at the very outer reaches of plausibility.
But far more likely is that climate trends will play themselves out over a few centuries, rather than a few weeks—a timescale that, if portrayed on the big screen, wouldn’t fill many theater seats.
The movie may bring attention to climate issues, which is a good thing. But there is also a subtle danger that it will raise the bar too high, creating an expectation that climate change will be be dramatic, sudden, and incontrovertible. The short-term trends are likely to be none of those. If the risks of climate change teaches us anything, it’s that we need to pay just as much attention to the slow, steady changes—the ones that seem unimportant day to day, or even year to year, but that fundamentally shape our lives over the course of generations. That’s a perspective that’s not reinforced by disaster-flick pacing.