In my opinion, it depends on the reaction of each person who sees the movie, but generally they don’t do much harm. The people who have the most negative reactions to them are likely those who disagree with theories of climate change already, and don’t like to have the idea shoved in their face. And, though such movies may cause unnecessary fear in people who are already aware of the issues of climate change, a little research on their part will show that though the problem is serious, it calls for reasoned action rather than panic.
Finally, disaster movies like The Day After Tomorrow have the promising potential to make a few people open their eyes to global warming for the first time; in fact, I remember witnessing one person begin to research it for herself after seeing that movie.
At worst, such fictional movies simply provide mindless entertainment for the audiences. At best, it will create awareness and get people curious and seeking ways to help the environment. Such movies are not likely to change a person’s mind if it is already made up, though it may make a point to those not completely informed.
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