Friday, November 12, 2010

Cool It – Movie Review

Last night in my movie class, we saw “Cool It”, a documentary about alternative ways to deal with the global warming issue impacting the earth’s environment; it was inspired by a book of the same name, which was written by Bjorn Lomborg, who is prominently featured in the film.

After Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, the earth’s global warming crisis was given a higher profile in the consciousness of the public – but what are the possible solutions?  Are the solutions that have already been set forth viable?  And is global warming even a crisis in the first place?

It would be both simplistic and wrong to say that Bjorn Lomborg is Al Gore’s nemesis – they are both in total agreement about the essential fact that global warming does exist as a problem to be solved.  Despite this, the two remain at odds with each other.  The reason for their differences are both many and varied, but suffice it to say that Lomborg has attempted to set out a detailed, articulate, well-thought-out analysis of the problem as he sees it – in doing so, however, he points out what he observes are flaws in the information that Gore has presented in his own documentary. 

Lomborg is an author and environmentalist who started out his professional life working for Greenpeace, then began to question his own beliefs, causing him to diverge somewhat from the mainstream environmentalist community.  Seen as both an iconoclast and a bit of a gadfly, he is a thorn in the side of environmentalists who buy into the perceptions conveyed by what seems to be a highly vocal and visible majority, causing him to collect a great many enemies as staunch in their beliefs as Lomborg is with his own.  In the documentary, Lomborg takes apart many of Gore’s arguments piece by piece, providing reasoned, thoughtful replies to both the statement of the original problem and proof of why some of the posited solutions aren’t viable -- in some cases, he even does so by showing an extensive cost-benefit analysis, proving that we can get a bigger bang for the buck elsewhere.  One of the best parts of the movie is how the so-called “Cap & Trade” solution works and why it would fail based on the greed inherent to free market capitalism.

The documentary does more than attempt to lionize Lomborg, it seems to want to deify him as well.  For one thing, he is shown as a loving son making monthly visits to his institutionalized mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Also, he is shown in an auditorium lecturing to an audience about his thoughts on environmental concerns and in doing so, the composition of the shot is such that he is in the same frame as what look like religious-type stained glass windows – thus giving the appearance that he could be a cleric preaching to his disciples. 

I must admit that I found this movie hard to follow – I’m not an environmentalist, a scientist or an engineer and the filmmakers try to cram quite a bit of elaborate scientific information into an hour and a half documentary; perhaps more than the average person might be reasonably expected to digest.  Also,  unless you’re fairly knowledgeable about the geopolitical discussion of the entire global warming issue (and again, I’m not that guy, either), then it’s fairly easy to get lost in this movie rather early on; I found my eyes glazing over more than once – not because it wasn’t interesting, but because I had a tough time keeping up with everything.

The post-screening interview was with both Lomborg himself and the documentary’s Producer/Director Ondi Timoner.  When asked about the financials, Timoner refused to answer; she said that the investors in the movie wished to remain anonymous and she didn’t want to share exactly how much the movie cost to produce.  Lomborg wanted to make it clear that he was in fact grateful to Al Gore for bringing the issue to the forefront because without him, there wouldn’t even be a discussion.