At the Hamptons International Film Festival, I saw “Cool It,” the new documentary directed by Sundance two-time Grand Jury Prize winner, Ondi Timoner (“Dig!,” “We Live in Public”). It features Bjorn Lomborg, author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” and a pariah in many climate change and environmental circles. I thought it would be good to “know one’s enemy,” and went armed with facts and data to refute what I expected to be hyperbole and assertions in the documentary. This was the first US showing of the film. It was very poorly attended as one might expect, given the environmental views of many of the Hamptons’ weekend residents. A mistake.
The documentary actually presents a quite balanced view of climate change. Balanced in the sense of putting Climate Change into perspective along with all the other global problems we face today. Lomborg is actually a strong believer in the likelihood of climate change. He also believes that the polarization on the topic brought about by some of the hyperbole coming from the climate change zealots has been a detriment to progress on solving the problems. I think he does understate the risks in an attempt to present a “balanced” view, using some of the same techniques that he accuses the zealots of using. However, his conclusions are valid—the primary one being that more of the dollars that are going toward today’s solutions would be better spent on research and development at this stage, to come up with true economic innovations that would speed the shift away from carbon based energy. This version of the film doesn’t talk about the need for a higher price on carbon, although it is my understanding that earlier cuts did.
I suspect that by the time this film hits the commercial theaters the final producers’ cut will be more of a polemic against Al Gore and others who have been a big part of raising awareness on this issue. I hope to see it when it becomes commercial, and I would urge others to do the same. I also hope that an earlier cut makes it to the Internet so one can compare the director’s apparent intent with the final product. Timoner’s responses to questions after the screening portrayed an intelligence and understanding that is already not showing up in each cut as it makes its way from the film festivals to the multi-cinemas for mass consumption. Lomborg will likely continue to be viewed as a pariah in certain circles, when his thoughts should be broadly incorporated into our efforts to deal with this and other serious global problems. Read the book. See the movie. And get your hands on a director’s cut, if you can.