Directed by: Ondi Timoner (Dig!)
Starring: Bjørn Lomborg
Ondi Timoner’s Cool It—based on the book by the same name, written by the documentary’s primary subject, Bjørn Lomborg—acts mostly as a refutation of Davis Guggenheim’s Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006). But don’t mistake Cool It as a right-wing screed. Cool It works more as another voice in the debate, never denying that climate change is happening—and is human-made. The film offers different solutions to the problem, while shying away from the sensationalism that often surrounds the topic.
As someone who found Al Gore and his never-ending PowerPoint presentation in An Inconvenient Truth a bit on the cinematically inert side, Cool It strikes me as easier viewing. The film works as a platform for presenting Lomborg’s ideas on the subject, which mostly consist of taking a step back from the issue of global warming in order to prevent ourselves from getting caught up in a flurry of fear that the world is about to end. According to Lomborg, things aren’t as bad as they seem, but this doesn’t mean they couldn’t be better. His main points revolve around the idea that current policies are inefficient and overly expensive; money could be better spent researching alternative energy and educating developing countries. At the same time, he continually asserts that humanity is much more inventive and resistant than we’ve been giving ourselves credit for, and that any climate change means adaptation on our part.
It’s a stance that has caused Lomborg to attract criticism, with the Danish government even going so far as to accuse him of scientific dishonesty. The film doesn’t shy away from this, and instead paints Lomborg as a sort of good-natured scientific maverick. This works in the film’s favor, since the ideas being put forth—that maybe Thunderdome isn’t just a few years away—are a bit easier to deal with than a bunch of gloom and doom. At the same time, I had the feeling that we’re not getting the whole story. We meet one scientist—interviewed throughout the film—who seemingly can’t stand Lomborg’s ideas, but we’re never told why he finds them dangerous. Also, we meet a small sampling of scientists who appear to agree with Lomberg, but for someone who attracts so much controversy, again, we’re never really clued into the reasons why they agree.
Presented within the context of the film, Lomborg’s ideas seem logical and doable—if not occasionally a bit on the simplistic side. However, there’s always a sneaking suspicion we’re not being told everything. This doesn’t make the film any less of an important piece in the global-warming debate. But it does keep the film from being definitive. Rated PG for thematic elements.