Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Global Dimming and Bollywood Cinema

The Times had a piece on the phenomenon of "global dimming" last week. This is the amount of light which reaches the earth's surface, and it can be affected by clouds or pollution (or both, as you'll see if you read the article).

Apparently, it's either stopped, or begun to reverse. In India, however, it continues to worsen:

In some places, he said, the brightening has more than offset the dimming that was detected beginning in the late 1950's. In others, like Hong Kong, which lost more than a third of its sunlight, the dimming trend has leveled off, but previous levels of brightness have not yet returned. In a few places, like India, the dimming trend continues, he said.

It reminds me, as many things do, of the look of Bombay in old Bollywood films. If you watch 1970s classics like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, which is largely filmed outdoors on the streets of Bombay, you see an image of the city with quite a bit more direct sunlight, and less smog/pollution, than you see now. It's particularly dramatic on the Marine Drive shots -- you actually see a sharp horizon.

If this were a Salman Rushdie novel, the disappearance of the horizon due to smog would be a metaphor for a kind of moral greyness amongst the populace. And "global dimming" would be fodder for a joke about the low attention-span youth of today.


Quizman said...

For the sake of accuracy only. :-) Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was made in the 80s.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous said...

What a disturbing trend.

It's interesting to imagine future scientists using such films to track historical environmental patterns.


12:21 PM  

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