|The film `Cool It! `
|Home Who is Kåre Fog? The book `Cool It!´ The Lomborg Story|
film "Cool It" directed by Ondi Timoner presents the views of
Lomborg regarding how we can best cope with global warming.
It was first presented at the Toronto Film Festival on 12th September 2010. The film was shown in Copenhagen (Denmark) on 4th November, where I watched it.
My basis for evaluating the film is many years of following closely what Bjørn Lomborg has written and said. I have carefully scrutinized large parts of his books, checking if the `facts´ stated by Lomborg are true or not.
I give here a review of the film´s contents based on notes taken when watching the presentation. Preliminary critical comments are inserted on certain subjects. The review is divided in three parts, as follows:
The first third of the film
The middle third of the film
The last third of the film
The issues covered by the film are not fully the same as in the book `Cool It!´. Some themes from the book are left out, while the film much more than the book has focus on practical solutions, such as various alternative energy sources.
The film is, as you would expect, a propaganda film for Lomborg. This is clear, for instance, when we see him distributing food to poor children in Kenya - just like a politician running for election would do. It is also a one-sided presentation seen from Lomborg´s personal point of view. For instance, he presents the case when he was accused of scientific dishonesty as if he were completely innocent and as if the complaints were only politically motivated (read on the case in Lomborg-errors here).
People who watch the film seem to like the middle part best, that is the part where he criticizes Al Gore´s film and `shoots down Gore´s points one by one´ as it was described in the Reel Film review. When I watched the film, there was one point where the audience was amused and could not stop laughing a bit at the stupid environmentalists: That was the part about polar bears. Unfortunately, what Lomborg says here about polar bears is completely wrong and not based on scientific evidence (see here on Lomborg-errors). So the ridicule of Al Gore is completely unjustified here - but the audience does not know that. On other points (sea level rise, hurricane Katrina, malaria) Al Gore was not completely wrong as stated by Lomborg, although the evidence is more ambiguous on these points.
In the last third of the film, it has some interesting presentations of possible `smart solutions´. This part of the film is worth seeing - most people will get valuable new information on these items. But one should remain critical of Lomborg´s presentation even here. He endorses wind energy as a part of the solution, but at the same time he claims that we should not invest in more wind turbines right now, and in other contexts he argues strongly against implementation of wind energy, so one may wonder if he has a hidden agenda (see here on Lomborg-errors). Maybe he talks positively about alternative energy to get the right image among left-wing people, and negatively about alternative energy vis-a-vis decision makers in order to keep the support from right-wing people.
There are also many claims in the film about costs and effects. These are stated in a very authoritative voice - as if Lomborg knew for certain what costs would be many decades ahead. Of course, nobody can predict that with any degree of precision. Actually, the figures are based mainly on Lomborg´s own computer runs, and other people get other results. This is once more a point where the film is unacceptably one-sided - Lomborg tries to tell his audience that he knows the exact answers, and avoids completely to tell us that there is a wide range of estimates, and that nobody can know the true figures.
|The role of
The film includes several shots of an interview with the climatologist Stephen Schneider. Schneider died in July 2010, and the film-makers then chose to dedicate the film to him.
Schneider was very much in opposition to Lomborg. He contributed to the issue of Scientific American where Lomborg´s first book was criticized heavily, with a substantial and relevant criticism of his treatment of the cllimate change issue. How come that Schneider accepted to contribute to Lomborg´s film? Well, he hardly did. According to a jounalist´s interview with Ondi Timoner (Livestream Q&A), she tried to interview many people that don´t agree with Bjørn Lomborg, and she was met with lots of resistance. As to Schneider, Timoner says that "I actually had to talk Schneider into participating as he was throwing me out his office". Also, persons closely affiliated with Schneider say that the interview was made in an unethical way. Those parts of the interview with him that have been included in the film, are not very representative of his opinions when he was alive. Now that he is dead, we cannot obtain his comments to the way he is presented in the film. For instance, Schneider was very much against geo-engineering and adaptation as methods to `fix´ the climate problem in an easy way. This attitude is mentioned directly in his obituary here.
However, what the audience understand from seeing the film appears from this review: "Even one grumpy climate scientist, the late Stephen Schneider, who has nothing good to say about the self-proclaimed “skeptical environmentalist” at the start of the film, later appears to be on board with several of Lomborg’s favorite ideas. "
In a Danish TV interview (TV2news, 23-05-2011) Lomborg directly called Schneider `a grumpy old man´. No wonder that he appears grumpy when he was filmed against his own will. And if he could see the film, he would still be grumpy, because Lomborg has manipulated things in such a way that he apparently is `on board with several of Lomborg´s favorite ideas´ (which he was not).
So when Lomborg has dedicated the film to Schneider, this is not an honour. Rather, you might think that it is an insult.
about the film:
description of the contents of the film is given here
Lomborg answers questions about the
film in New York Times: link
List of persons that appear in the
The trailer to the
Critical/sarcastic comments to the trailer: link.
Other parts of the film, especially the section on polar bears, may be seen in the video on this web site
Scene from the film: Lomborg in Kenya: link
Some reviews of
New York Times´ lengthy review of the film: link
Los Angeles Times: link
Washington Post: link
Boston Globe: link
IEEE Spectrum: link
Wired Magazine: link
Empire movies: link
Reel Film reviews: link
Slant magazine: link