“Cool It” Documentary – Lomborg Talks Sense and Nonsense on Global Warming

  • Published on November 12th, 2010

Bjorn Lomborg’s documentary, “Cool It”, opens today. Claiming to take a middle ground between climate deniers on the right and fearmongers on the left, it could be a moderate’s dream.

Or it could be yet another mishmash of garbled facts and half-baked ideas that doesn’t move the debate forward one iota. And it doesn’t help that in decrying Al Gore’s global warming wake-up call, “An Inconvenient Truth”, as an inaccurate scarefest, Lomborg’s film is an inaccurate kumbayafest.

And if global warming is really “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront”, as he says in the film, you could say that the way he presents it is doing humanity a colossal disservice. (UPDATE: … and it got frozen out at the box office. See: “Uncool – Climate Skeptic’s Documentary Flops“)

Who is this Lomborg guy, anyway?

He made a name for himself as a “Skeptical Environmentalist“. Some praised him as a moderate voice in sharp contrast to the heated rhetoric in the environmentalist camp; others damned him for offering aid and comfort to the deniers and enemies of environmentalism whose main stock in trade is “Look, there is controversy over whether or not this is true so let’s just do nothing until we have proof.” He appeared on Fox News and the Glen Beck show as recently as 2007, muddying the scientific waters.

Based on his book, “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming“, this documentary may simply provide more of the same, especially as he continues to use out-dated information. On the subject of sea level rise, for instance, he references the 2007 IPCC report that said a rise of only a few feet was likely by 2100. He was called out as wrong even in 2007, but we have a lot more information since then, especially on the subject of melting from Greenland and Antartica, which makes it look like the sea level rise will be a lot worse than that. How much worse we don’t yet know, although 20 feet is a figure that’s been kicked around. That’s a far cry from saying “Everything is fine and people who worry are idiots.” (Background here and here)

Brain Clark Howard’s review for The Daily Green is headlined: “Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘Cool It’ Documentary Full of Ozone-Sized Holes”.

Watching the new documentary Cool It reminded me of sitting through creationist films on Sunday morning in youth group.

…like a creationist film, Cool It is loaded with experts who aren’t specialists in the subject at hand. In this case, there is a raft of economists, especially Nobel laureates, MDs and the like. That’s fine but they aren’t climate scientists, so when they start interpreting the actual science of global warming that can be a problem.

…It’s a bit laughable to cast environmentalists as the establishment, when they’re largely the outsiders looking in global power plays made by multinational corporations, governments beholden to entrenched fossil fuel interests and international agencies like the IMF and World Bank.

Further, Lomborg’s central thesis in the film is that all the money earmarked by the European Union, and considered by other countries, to address climate change is a colossal waste, when what we should be doing is spending the money on green technologies (the figure he uses is $250 billion)… [But] the European Union is not proposing taking $250 billion and simply sending it up a smokestack, it will be investing much of that money in green technology, exactly as Lomborg suggests.


It might help that Lomborg says he wants this film to be geared toward solutions, not fear-mongering. He thinks the modest sum of $100 billion a year will be enough to deal with the problems, which may be optimistic, but is at least a start (and a lot more than the “do nothing” crowd is offering). He also talks a lot about spending more money on immediate problems, like malaria and other world health issues, while aiming for “down-the-road” solutions like alternative energy development.

[Lomborg’s group examined] not just the dominant international policy to cut carbon emissions, but also seven other “solutions” including more investment in technology, climate engineering, and planting more trees and reducing soot and methane, also significant contributors to climate change…

But will Lomborg – a perky, blond, openly-gay vegetarian – be able to motivate the masses?

Conservatives love him

At Pyjamas Media, John Boot says:

Bjorn Lomborg, the self-described “skeptical environmentalist,” is so likable and empowered by common sense in this new film that he could be the Ronald Reagan of climate science… So non-scary is this film, in fact, that it terrifies statist liberals who are already howling in despair at the idea that the West need not move everybody out of SUVs and into Schwinns.

Kyle Smith at (Rupert Murdoch’s) New York Post:

“Cool It” — complete with its own slide show and witty graphics — amounts to a devastating rebuttal to Gore-ism.

And in a brutal example of how a film like this can help spread disinformation, Smith goes on to say,

[Director Ondi] Timoner also has some fun with Gore’s documentary, showing that Gore’s blather about 20-foot rises in sea levels inundating New York and other cities is scoffed at by scientists. (The actual rise, over the next 100 years, will be more like a foot or so.)

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal piles on (which tells you something about the space between the Teapartier ideologues and the businesspeople who actually have to make plans to deal with reality if they’re going to make money):

While Lomborg has been called a “parasite” and an “idiot,” and some in the scientific community have lambasted the documentary’s director, Ondi Timoner, for giving a platform for the controversial thinker, the Sundance-winning filmmaker (2004’s “Dig!”) says she never wanted to make a film that criticized “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I’m a Democrat, I was a page in the U.S. Senate. I’m not against Gore,” said Timoner, who was hired to make the film by “X-Men” producer Ralph Winter and former studio executive Terry Botwick’s 1019 Entertainment. “The anti-‘Inconvenient Truth’ would say global warming is not happening. The reason I wanted to make the film is the pragmatic solutions that he puts forward. I hope people are motivated that for six cents more at the gas station and a little more on their utility bill we could finance [these solutions],” she said.

“Until alternative energies become less expensive, fossil fuels are never going to go away,” said Timoner, echoing Lomborg. “That’s my favorite point and I hope that’s what people take away from the film.”

That’s great, since it’s precisely the point most of us have been making. If  the message will finally get through if it’s delivered by a photogenic former climate denier in a beautifully-shot movie, that’s great.

In the meantime, check out the trailer, or buy the book… And then read Climate Progress’ line by line “debunking” of the trailer…


More background:

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
  • killoxygenthieves

    The latest data from scientist at the UN, back up everything he claims. I should also point out, as soon as you had to resort to discrediting your colleagues to make your self sound superior and that everyone else was wrong, it became evident have NOTHING TO OFFER and can’t mount a valid counter argument to support you supposed “truth” about globing warming.

  • Soooo, all those climate changes well before human beings began industrializing, who you gonna blame those on? How about the little ice age during the American and French Revolutions? Did we cause that too?

    How about the fact that glaciers had, at one point, been as far south as Oklahoma. What caused them to melt? I guess it was all the farting from the animals huh?

    Global warming (which in the 70’s was global cooling) is the biggest monetary scam of all time. It justifies billions of dollars in research so an entire industry of hippie scientists can live off of government welfare, but have the illusion that they have a real job.

    That’s why during “climate gate” they had to fudge some numbers because their models we b.s.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Oooh, this is a good one.
      “Your honor, how can you accuse my client of murder? People have been dying since Cain killed Abel – are you going to blame my client for that, too? And what about all the deaths during the plague? I suppose that’s my clients fault, too!”
      You’d make a lousy defense attorney as well as a lousy scientist.

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  • So instead of Algore’s constant screaming, “The SKY is WARMING, The sky IS warming!”, Bjorn is just pointing up and saying, “…pay attention, please.” (then he wrings his hands) But once again we IGNORE the facts of the case.


    I’m guessing they had a ton of time and money spent on this movie when the e-mailgate” disclosure hit East Anglia University, and they HAD to show this pig to recoup some of that money. I have no doubt that this will be a big flick for the AGW believers. They have to see it to stay in the club, so to speak.

    I’d rather go see a re-release of Disney’s ‘Black Hole’, or ‘Gigli’, or ANY Ed Wood movie for that matter. You know what I mean, a less inconvenient waste of my time.

    (but with some unintended laughs)

    (wait, we’re right back to Algore)

  • The factors that resulted in the 20th century global temperature run-up have been discovered.

    A simple equation, with inputs of accepted measurements, calculates the average global temperatures since 1895 with 88% accuracy. See the equation, an eye-opening graph of the results and how they are derived in the pdfs at http://climaterealists.com/index.php?tid=145&linkbox=true (see especially the pdfs made public on 4/10/10 and 6/27/10).

    The future average global temperature trend that this equation calculates is down.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      Unfortunately,this turns out not to be the case.

      If you look at Mr. Pangburn’s graphs, you quickly realize the ONLY way you can get the trendline to go down is… to cherrypick your start point. 1998 was the hottest year on record (capping 100 years of steady warming), so by only looking at the years after that the deniers were able to claim a downward trend based on this slimmest of tricks.

      Alas, 2010 was the hottest year on record, so that brief “downward trend” is now toast.

      • JB,
        Perhaps you should have actually looked at the pdfs at the link before commenting. The start point is 1895. The accuracy (coefficient of determination) is 88%.

  • Pingback: “Cool It” Documentary – Sensible Take on Global Warming, or … | Climate Change History Explore and Learn()

  • Convince me:
    -that climate change is unstoppable warming
    -and convince me that all the denial scientists are dishonest.
    Until then, (unless I’m swimming down my street in a Canadian winter), I’m a Green Liberal Climate Change Denier.
    The new denier actually is a climate change believer who still thinks voter support is still there.