Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's even hotter under the collar

Science historian James Burke, the brilliantly engaging presenter of systems thinking show Connections, produced this forerunner to An Inconvenient Truth back in 01989; After the Warming.

It takes the form of a documentary "from the future" (set in 02050) and despite its age may well strike a viewer in 02008 as oddly ahead of its time -- and not for the obvious reason. That is, while the ostensibly futuristic wrapping may not have aged too well, the contents have really come into their own.

I won't say much about it here, except (a) even at 1 hour 47 minutes in length, it's well worth watching; (b) the "retrospective" format of setting a nonfiction program decades into the future is a rare and interesting one; and (c) the top Google hit for "After the Warning" is a 01997 review excoriating the show.

The review comes from The Energy Advocate, a newsletter self-published by retired physics professor Howard Hayden (listed at DeSmogBlog as a climate change "denier"). No further comment, just take a look.

Says Hayden's review, in part:

[Burke] brings us a blatant propaganda piece, After the Warming, where he decides to explain how mankind is ruining the earth through the greenhouse effect. This show on The Learning Channel is a sort of fantasy, wherein he plays James Burke doing a Connections program in the year 2050. It is an apocalyptic prophecy of the near future disguised as a retrospective look at humanity and the earth.

His review gets a bit more entertaining and a lot more polemical from there. I find it instructive, though not at all unusual, that a disliked hypothetical future is serially dismissed as "propaganda", "prophecy", and "fantasy". No chance, then, that Burke's offering could be seen instead as an imaginative interpretation of a distant future, based on a theory with which he, Hayden, happens to disagree?

How, I wonder, do people come to be so sure about things?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the "After the Warming" Video. I have been thinking about it for quite some time. To the best of my knowledge it only aired once.

You're right, it is eerie how Burke depicts NOLA happening in 2015.