NASA is forbidding its employees and contractors to make any public statements regarding a forthcoming science fiction blockbuster in which a new ice age happens in less than a week.
In "The Day After Tomorrow," a $125 million disaster film set to open on May 28, global warming from accumulating smokestack and tailpipe gases disrupts warm ocean currents and sets off an instant ice age.
Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say.
"No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with" the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard's top press officer. "Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA."
The new movie's script contains a host of politically uncomfortable situations: the president's motorcade is flash frozen; the vice president, who scoffs at warnings even as chaos erupts, resembles Dick Cheney; the humbled United States has to plead with Mexico to allow masses of American refugees fleeing the ice to cross the border.
I love the evenhandedness of the Times: “Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely….” I wish they had interviewed those few who do think an ice age can happen in five days.
I hope this silliness draws some attention to the administration's attempts to muzzle scientists and misrepresent research for political ends. If you're interested, the go-to blog for information on Bush versus Science is Chris Mooney. Everytime I think I'm going to write an angry expose about some ugly misuse of science by the administration, I find that Mooney has already written it.