Another view of the issue of climate change

Cool It

on November 17, 2010 by Tim Cogshell
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coolitreview.pngCool It is a climate change documentary that specifically juxtaposes itself to An Inconvenient Truth (2006), the quintessential climate change documentary for which former Vice President Al Gore and director Davis Guggenheim won Academy Awards. Guggenheim's 2006 doc initiated a fundamental change in how North Americans think and feel about the phenomena we call global warming. Cool It is not likely to follow An Inconvenient Truth in its notoriety because even though the film is well made the ideas it espouses run contrary to commonly held beliefs about what Global Warming means and what we (humanity) ought to do about it. Points of contention about climate change notwithstanding, Cool It also lacks the benefit of a personality like former VP Gore or the Hollywood establishment behind it. Theatrical numbers will be small.

The central figure in Cool It is Bjørn Lomborg, a Denmark native, world-renowned environmentalist, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and former director of the Environment Assessment Institute of Copenhagen. He's also the author of the best selling and very controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist. Bjørn Lomborg's formidable resume and background bare detailed mention both here and in the film because they are the best bulwarks against his detractors, of which there are several, and some of whom wish him great ill. Bjørn is, nevertheless, an infinitely reputable, decent and rational person of authority who cannot be dismissed casually. What Bjørn Lomborg says about global climate change is essentially this-it's real and humans play a significant role as it cause.

After that, Bjørn and a good deal of the climate change community part company.

Specifically Bjørn takes exception to prediction(s) about global climate change. According to Lomborg and his colleagues, statistical analysis of these effects will be significant, but not dire and should be addressed but not without consideration of the cost of measures conceived to address them. That the assessment of cost v. benefit should guide decisions about what to do and how to do it strikes many in the climate change community as misguided, but none are so offended by that as by Lomborg's assessment that sometimes the best course of action is none at all. Lomborg's (and the film's) central thesis is that the current programs and plans for stemming the tide of global climate change will largely not work, and these solutions are nearly always cost prohibitive given what likely benefit they will effect. The argument he and several of his noted defenders make is that much more benefit can be offered to humanity by applying much of the billions of dollars being considered to combat global warming to much more pressing human concerns, from the eradication of a resurgent malaria in some parts of the world, to the digging of wells in others.

An Inconvenient Truth, the film that Cool It ostensibly takes to task, caused the world to focus on the issue of global climate change. I wrote the BoxOffice Magazine review of An Inconvenient Truth when the film was released in 2006, and it was on my top-ten list for that year. Cool It, however, will not make my top-ten list. Cinematically it is not nearly as engaging as Vice President Gore's slide show and the narrative structure is less cohesive. The last quarter or so of Cool It is prescriptive, and often feels like it's from a different movie, a movie about truly brilliant ideas for combating the problem effectively, considerate of various costs. Cool It resonates, and gives one pause not just to consider the merits of the global warming question, but to consider the merits of all that we've decided to do about it, impending doom notwithstanding.

Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Director: Ondi Timoner
Screenwriters: Terry Botwick, Sara Gibson, Ondi Timoner and Bjørn Lomborg
Producers: Terry Botwick, Sara Gibson and Ondi Timoner
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG for thematic elements.
Running time: 89 min
Release date: November 12 ltd. November 19 exp.

Tags: Bjørn Lomborg, Ondi Timoner, Sara Gibson, Terry Botwick
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