Land of the lost global warming skeptics

Does Will Ferrell have any idea that there is a subversive climate change subplot in his movie?

By Andrew Leonard

Published June 19, 2009 9:52PM (EDT)

Alright -- I know "Land of the Lost," the latest Will Farrell comedy vehicle, was an immediate bomb at the box office after getting widely panned and has already dropped off the edge of the cultural landscape.

But. But. But. Tim Lambert, scourge of the global warming skeptics, points us to a review of "Land of the Lost" that is so baffling and amazing in its self-apparent absurdity that one begins to wonder whether the whole campaign to deny that humans are causing climate change is actually just a brilliant piece of performance art.

To review: Dr. Rick Marshall, played by Ferrell, is "a quantum paleontologist" pushing a space-time theory that, well, other scientists think is sheer crackpottery. But of course, he's right, and off he goes into a crazy alternate universe where the normal rules of space and time have been completely upended! No laughs ensue.

S.T. Karnick, the "director of research" at the Heartland Institute, a global warming skepticism think tank, and the editor and chief writer of The American Culture, somehow manages the brilliant feat of mining a provocative vein of ore from this dross. The triumph of the mocked crackpot scientist is a (perhaps unwitting) shoutout to those fighting against the "false consensus" supporting anthropogenic global warming!

Marshall's theory has brought him nearly universal derision among scientists and the media, which the film amusingly conveys through bookend scenes in which Marshall appears on NBC's Today Show to talk about books he has written, and is abused by host Matt Lauer as a charlatan and a fool.

Lauer's reaction perfectly represents the media's reaction toward, say, those who claim that the scientific evidence shows that anthropogenic global warming is not occurring and the current temperature trends of the earth show the very opposite of a crisis. Instead of actually engaging the scientific evidence, the media whores simply claim that all reputable scientists agree that there's a crisis requiring the absolute destruction of Americans' civil and economic liberties, and that anyone who disagrees with that premise is the equivalent of a Holocaust denier....

My guess is that this aspect of the film was not intended as direct satire but instead simply reflects something the filmmakers picked up in the contemporary zeitgeist. However, its presence in the central story of the film and the bookend scenes -- which are in very important places in the film, the beginning and end -- “gives it great prominence and suggests that skepticism toward such claims of consensus has entered the culture as a real phenomenon....

Regarding global warming, for example, alarmists continually claim that scientists are agreed that anthropogenic global warming is happening and is a crisis. In fact, neither of those statements has achieved anything like a consensus among scientific experts in the appropriate fields. For example, the widely cited report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was written not by scientists but by politicians who ignored the multitude of comments made officially by scientists questioning the panel's alarmist claims.

Have a great weekend, everyone. But don't go see "Land of the Lost."

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

MORE FROM Andrew LeonardFOLLOW koxinga21LIKE Andrew Leonard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Environment How The World Works