On the weekend of the opening of The Day After Tomorrow, researcher James Lovelock says climate change may be proceeding much more quickly than previously thought. This report comes at a time when the main criticism of the film is that everything happens much faster than it will in reality.

In the Independent, Michael McCarthy writes that Lovelock’s conclusion is due to two recent climatic events: the increasingly rapid melting of the Arctic ice-sheet covering Greenland, which will raise global sea levels, and the extreme heat wave in Europe last summer, which caused 20,000 deaths of mostly elderly people in France.

“There’s no question in any reasonable scientist’s mind that [the heat wave] was the first real bad event of global warming,” says Lovelock. “But the media picked it up only as a story about the wickedness of the French in not looking after their old people.” He is just as alarmed about the Greenland ice sheet, which is “melting far faster than we expected.

“I think in the past we thought more in terms of, it would get hotter, things would change, you might be able to grow Mediterranean plants in Britain and things like that, it didn’t seem at all too bad; you knew there’d be some places that wouldn’t be fine, but others would be nicer than they were. Now there’s a growing awareness that global warming is far more serious than we ever realized, that it is proceeding more quickly, and that it poses a threat to future generations and even to civilization itself.”

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