2010, Movies

Cool It (2010, Ondi Timoner)

Weirdly, this film was recommended to me by a climate change denier. I assume he is now a former climate change denier. I wonder why this film, of all films, convinced him, or whether it’s just been the weather, if you’ll excuse my saying so.

This is not a strict documentary but rather an advocacy film for the Copenhagen Consensus (which is a think tank) and its leader, Bjorn Lomberg. At first it feels more like an apologia for Lomberg but then it morphs into a rebuttal of An Inconvenient Truth. I haven’t seen that movie in forever, and only once, so watching this film maybe a decade or more later, so that focus is kind of annoying.

This is not a great movie – there’s too much of Lomberg himself, especially in the early going and there’s too much focus on a film that maybe nobody will remember in 50 years – and too much has happened in the area since 2010 for it to be still relevant, but it still makes for interesting viewing for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is because it tells a common story, which is so very frustrating. When someone proposes a moderate, middle ground position, extremists on both sides freak out and demonize that person. It happens in science and it happens everywhere. I don’t know how right Lomberg is, but I do know that trying to prosecute him for writing a book is insane.

The other reason is that this is a hopeful movie. This movie doesn’t want to scare you, it wants you to think about how many times human beings have solved problems before, and how that augers well for the future. It isn’t far off my own beliefs about climate change: that bad things will happen but that we humans will overcome much of it through our ingenuity and determination. Sure, it’s a tad utopian at the end, but that’s better than “The World is Ending Tomorrow!!!”

But I’m not sure it succeeds enough to recommend it. For one thing, Lomberg is a political “scientist” (I use quotes as someone who has an graduate degree in political “scientist”) not an actual scientist, and he seems obsessed with economic considerations at the expense of other considerations. It’s a little rich for someone with no background in the sciences to criticize someone else for not having a background in the sciences. What I mean to say is, I don’t know how far fetched most of these ideas are. Some of them may be very realistic, but they might all be pipe dreams for all I know.

Anyway, so much has changed since 2010 it’s likely much of this movie is no longer relevant or, at the very least, some of the discussions in the film have been rendered irrelevant by changes in climate forecasting and technology.


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