Danish academic Bjørn Lomborg created some waves with his 2001 book The Environmental Skeptic and its follow-up, 2007’s Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide To Global Warming, both of which poked holes in long-held assumptions about the effects of climate change and the inefficient ways the world was addressing them. It should be said upfront that he doesn’t deny climate change, but those who want to slow (or stop) any efforts to address the problem have nonetheless eagerly embraced his contrarian arguments. For his affront to conventional wisdom—meaning the findings of a vast swath of environmental scientists—Lomborg was officially reprimanded for “scientific dishonesty” by the Danish Committees On Scientific Dishonesty (sounds like committee created just for him, no?), a decision that the committee’s parent body later annulled.
Adapted from his book, Ondi Timoner’s Cool It gives the charismatic Lomborg a forum for blasting the “alarmist” claims of work like An Inconvenient Truth, with its terrifying images of cities consumed by water, whole continents turned to desert, and digital polar bears losing their ice floes. And that’s perfectly fair, since conventional wisdom needs to be questioned, and the way politicians and activists like Al Gore use scare tactics to motivate people is often insidious. However, Cool It fights propaganda with propaganda, accepting Lomborg’s work at face value while giving little time to the many scientists who have taken issue with him. With no one to challenge him, Lomborg sounds convincing and sane, offering many pragmatic, cost-benefit solutions to addressing not only climate change, but also global poverty and disease. And while it’s true that Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth also goes unchallenged, that was more like a concert movie than a proper documentary, which should have a greater commitment to verity. (And in an interview conducted just prior to the film’s première at the Toronto Film Festival, Lomborg reversed his prior objection to carbon taxing and advocated a $100 billion investment in clean energy solutions, which undermines some portions of the film anyway.) Here’s a man who’s doing to environmental science what the Atkins Diet did to weight loss, and Timoner isn’t looking for anyone to call his conclusions into question? Nonsense.