COOL IT: DVD
Fear has been ruling the environmental debate, says Danish academic Bjorn Lomborg. Global warming is real - it is man-made and it is an important problem. But it is not the end of the world. Featuring an array of academics and environmental theorists such as Paul Reiter, Freeman Dyson and Richard Lindzen and weighting the debate with archival footage of high-profile celebrity environmentalists such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Larry David and David Duchovny, Cool It explores the 'Feel Good versus Do Good' argument and, in searching for a solution, poses the world's most relevant political question: are current policies saving the world or just burning money?
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Cool It is timely. But it's too late. It should have been required viewing before the Gillard Government drew up the relevant, much despised carbon tax legislation. By the next election, Gillard will be able to say: "There will be no Labour Government under the carbon tax I lead..."
Of course, she and her fellow carbon tax travelers could have all read Lomborg's 2001 book (The Skeptical Environmentalist), but an updated 87 minute film presenting those views is quicker - and arguably more readily accessible, if you recall the impact of An Inconvenient Truth.
This film delivers another inconvenient truth - inconvenient for supporters of carbon taxes and other expensive but useless attempts at emission reduction.
So let me declare my bias: I am a supporter of Lomborg's learned, lucid, evidence-driven common sense driven approach to tackling the issues raised by global warming. So this is not a critique of those proposals but a review of the movie. I am not regurgitating the Lomborg manifesto except to summarise its thrust: it is evident that the world has been repeating failed climate change policies "over and over and it's about time we realised the current approach is broken."
He cites the European target of reducing emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and doing so by employing 20% renewable energy. Economists estimate the cost at $250 billion a year, and if continued throughout the entire century the resultant reduction in temperature is estimated at 1/10th of 1 degree F. "For every $1 dollar spent you will have avoided half a cent of damage..."
Lomborg posits that there is a better way - and he outlines how $250 billion can be better used viz climate change, but also help solve some of the world's most desperate problems, from poverty and malaria to lack of education.
Although there is some footage of Lomborg at a lectern, this is not an Al Gore-style presentation. The film is more personal in its focus on Lomborg - and the attacks he has weathered after his book was published. The vitriol against him is reminiscent of the inquisition. He has been demeaned, but he's never been proven factually wrong where it matters. He cites his mother's love as his source of his confidence in the face of those attacks - and we even meet her on one of his regular visits home.
And of course the film doesn't have the frightening and depressing fire and brimstone message of global doom that raised our consciousness about global warming. For doing that, at least, Lomborg credits Al Gore.
To the film's great credit, it explains subjects in simple language (eg how cap & trade works, what's wrong with the policy and how it's open to extreme corrupt conduct). But there are other, more directly emotional elements, like Lomborg's visit to a school in a Nairobi slum where he talks to the kids and asks what they aspire to in the future. Mostly a nice house and cures for diseases like Malaria and HIV - and better education.
The film sets out to show how fear has corrupted and twisted the facts in order to scare us into a false sense of doom. Lomborg counters this with rational and factual argument. An Inconvenient Truth was promoted as the most terrifying film you'll ever see. Cool It is level headed, incisive and practical, and about half of the film is devoted to alternative approaches - alternative to paying lip service (or pushing new taxes) to carbon reduction schemes.
Cool It rips up four of the biggest frights (sea level rises, more hurricanes, more malaria, less polar bears) of An Inconvenient Truth that have fuelled our fears. Lomborg offers a strong argument for being rational instead of fashionable. He is persuasive when he suggests that instead of making fossil fuels overly expensive, we should focus on making alternative energy cheaper. This doco is more relevant, positive and valuable than An Inconvenient Truth.
Published February 3, 2013
Email this article
COOL IT: DVD (E)
CAST: Documentary featuring Bjorn Lomborg
PRODUCER: Ondi Timoner, Terry Botwick, Sarah Gibson
DIRECTOR: Ondi Timoner
SCRIPT: Ondi Timoner, Terry Botwick, Sarah Gibson (book by Bjorn Lomborg)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nasar Abich Jr
EDITOR: Debra Light, Brian Singbiel, David Timoner
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Was to have been June 28, 2012; withdrawn from release;
SPECIAL FEATURES: .
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella
DVD RELEASE: February 3, 2013