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Inside Politics

Hollywood flick generates political interest
Environmental Politics
Environmental Issues

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- When is a special-effects-laden disaster film not just a potential summer blockbuster?

The answer seems to be when the subject is global warming.

"The Day After Tomorrow" a big-budget Hollywood movie opening this weekend is already generating political debate and inviting scrutiny because of its plot.

As described by 20th Century Fox promotional material, the movie premise is based on "an abrupt climate change [that] has cataclysmic consequences for the entire planet." Along the way, a paleoclimatologist tries to rescue his child from a field trip to New York City as a sudden Ice Age develops.

Former Vice President Al Gore was to join environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak at a public forum about global warming. The Monday night event was sponsored by the liberal-minded political group

The title of the forum?

"Town Hall on Global Warming and Hollywood's 'The Day After Tomorrow."'

And in Washington, three scientists involved with public policy issues hosted a news conference Monday to raise some concerns about the movie. They said they're worried it may seem too real to lawmakers as Congress considers a bill to counter global warming.

Patrick Michaels, trained as an ecological climatologist, spoke at the new conference organized by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

"There is legislation that will probably be reintroduced in the Senate during the furor of this movie, legislation to limit carbon dioxide emissions, which guarantees that it's going to get into the political sphere," Michaels said.

Michaels, flanked by two climate change and international environmental policy researchers, said the perception of imminent disaster created by the movie may affect not only the legislation in the Senate, but even the presidential race.

"There are places out West that are increasingly swing, like Arizona, where the migration of the Californians into that electorate could make for a greener electorate in this particular cycle," Michaels said.

Some people on the other side of the issue, however, have suggested that the movie might dampen any serious discussion of serious climate changes because it includes scientific inaccuracies that could make it an easy target for global-warming deniers.

The director of "The Day After Tomorrow," Roland Emmerich, is also known for the movie "Independence Day," about the near-destruction of Earth by aliens.

CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.

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