Cool It
He took my suggestion to get high far too literally.

Theatrical Release Date: 11/12/2010
Director: Ondi Timoner


Welcome to my secret lair.

IfAn Inconvenient Truth” taught us anything, it’s that humans are ruining the planet. We’re polluting the Earth, sea and air. We’ve accelerated and/or caused global warming. We’re all going to die.

Al Gore attempted to scare the pants off of people and increase awareness about what we’re doing to our planet. Well, it worked. The film won the Best Documentary Oscar (much to my chagrin) and it became fashionable to care about saving the planet. My problem with the film was that it seemed like 70% scare tactic, 20% Al Gore biography, and 10% science (he’s right that we’ll all die … it’s just a matter of how and when).

This year, director Ondi Timoner is bringing Bjørn Lomborg’s take on the problems our world is facing to the big screen in her documentary, “Cool It”. The title speaks to two items: first, that we need to address the problem of global warming and second, that the notion that we’re all going to die in the next ten to twenty years is almost laughably unrealistic.

Lomborg is a controversial figure in the scientific community. Author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, he also is the director and founder of a think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which looks to determine the most effective ways in which public policy can be directed to alleviate global crises. Lomborg’s assertion, as made in his book, is that the world is actually better off now that we were a hundred years ago (even with global warming being a real issue) and that the world community should focus its money and energy into areas with a better chance of improving things than simply trying to cut carbon dioxide production (though he readily admits that’s something worth addressing too).

The documentary follows Lomborg as he meets with economists and scientists, lectures at universities, and visits impoverished sections of Africa. Timoner makes sure to include the reasons for Lomborg’s controversial status in the scientific community but once that beginning section has been laid out, and we’re given a greater sense of who Lomborg is, the film then focuses squarely on presenting a host of scientific ideas about what can be done for the world, using the same budget that the European Union has proposed for the singular purpose of reducing CO2 emissions.

Timonen does a nice job of presenting Lomborg’s material, utilizing easy to understand visual simulations of proposed theories and keeping the film on a linear track. Don’t forget, however, that this film is based on the perspectives of the director and her subject. Like all documentaries, questioning the sources and their conclusions should not only be recommended but encouraged. While I found myself responding to Lomborg’s more reasoned approach to educating people about the problems of global warming, I’m no scientist and would need to read the studies in order to really know who’s right about their environmental projections.

But that’s the way science goes, especially in the field of global warming. Each side, and all those in-between like Lomborg, can call upon stacks of data and recite statistics that seem to prove whoever is speaking at the time to be correct. However, what should be taken from this documentary is the need to continue pushing for open debate about the best course public policy should take. To that end, “Cool It” succeeds and by laying out its ideas in a measured fashion, it gave me plenty of food for thought. A 3.5 out of 5, I’d say that this is a great companion piece to “An Inconvenient Truth”. Even though I felt Gore’s passion/politics outweighed his data, it never hurts to have more viewpoints (though I’d say you should watch his first and then Lomborg’s take, since he specifically refutes some of Gore’s assertions).

3.5 out of 5