On his Facebook page, filmmaker James Gunn has just shared the following anecdote about consulting with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, presumably for Guardians of the Galaxy, his much-anticipated Marvel Comics adaptation.
(He also, just so it's been said, recently shared that his cat had spilled water all over a day's worth of Guardians storyboards, but that seems unlikely to appreciably inform the film.)
Yesterday I spent a few hours with one of NASA's representatives from Jet Propulsion Laboratories, part of a group of scientists who consult the movie industry (for free) to help bring a greater understanding of science to films. It was an utterly fascinating few hours with one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable guys I've ever met. After we made our way through a ton of information on the possibilities of space travel, alien life, etc, I had to start questioning him about a few of my pet science topics. One of the questions was, of course, whether or not the greenhouse effect was real and was it caused by humans. His answer was, essentially, absolutely. He said there is almost no dissent among scientists on whether the greenhouse effect is real and caused by human beings. When you do see a paper that argues against this it's almost always by someone in a scientific field non-related to this (i.e. a sociologist or something). He said all of the dissent, very simply, is noise created by what is potentially an 800 trillion dollar oil business (by this he means what's left of the oil business here on earth). He says the kinds of natural disasters that have been happening - Katrina, Sandy, and so on - will continue to increasingly happen until humans are backed into a corner and will have to do something. He says it's very clear to any scientist that knows how to read the data that the current quick change in weather patterns is an anomaly not consistent with the history of the planet (probably the chief argument by those who argue that climate change is real but not caused by humans). On the positive side, he does believe we can make a difference if we face the problems that are occurring.
So you know, I'm not a blanket liberal. A few years ago I very much questioned whether climate change was caused by human beings. But every single scientist I've talked to over that period of time - and I mean every single one - has exactly echoed this NASA scientist's position. I have been convinced that climate change is real and caused by human beings, and this isn't a political issue but a scientific one. I've become convinced that there aren't "two sides" to this in the mainstream scientific community - just one. The "other side" is bolstered solely by politicians and businessmen with something at stake other than the truth.
In some ways because I felt positive about my meeting yesterday - he said there were things we could do to make the planet safer for all of us, and solar energy is a start - I felt the need to share my experience here.
Virtually all of this is, of course, unrelated to the film, although the questions of propulsion and alien life are certainly germane to Guardians.
One has to wonder whether he asked about NASA shooting animals into orbit...!