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.
- “Uncool – Climate Skeptic’s Documentary Flops“
- “Cool It” Documentary Re-examines the Inconvenient Truth of Global Warming
- Is The Opportunity To Reduce The Risk Of Climate Change Beneath Us As Americans?
- Is Sea Level Rise Really a Big Deal?
- Climate Change and Science – Cutting Through the Talking Points to the Truth