Film & TV

"Cool It" Tries the Environmental Hard Sell -- and Fails

The science of global warming is tough enough to evaluate without the sort of hard sell Ondi Timoner pushes on behalf of her subject, Bjorn Lomborg. Author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and the movie's eponymous source book, the Danish adjunct professor of statistics became, over the past decade, a thorn in the side of the environmentalist consensus on climate meltdown. Given a soapbox (and an inexhaustible supply of black T's), the gadfly gets to air his cost-benefit objections to widely accepted proposals and entertains what-if alternatives that sound dubious for the long term. Thanks to knee-jerk condemnation by scientists back home, he's cast as the rationalist victim of groupthink and has a counterproductive advocate in Timoner. How seriously can you take any portrait that follows a segment of criticism with its subject doting on his mama? Versed in the visual rhetoric of pseudojournalism, the Sundance-approved director of DiG and We Live in Public displays a weakness for heavy-handed pivots, unexamined arguments, and wall-to-wall filler music. Timoner does present a colorful cast of supportive scientists and scores a funny dig at green indoctrination with a classroom of schoolkids fretting over Dad's toaster usage. But by the time we're being hustled through the finer points of algae energy and the renewed viability of dikes, Lomborg sounds like an infomercial huckster, down to the vow to have money for "all the remaining problems of the world" thanks to his low, low price for managing global warming.

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Nicolas Rapold