Fwd: Global Warming and Common Sense

Nyt ''If algae can suck up carbon dioxide and spit out oil, what on earth are we worrying about?''

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Global Warming and Common Sense
2010-11-12 09:06:04.158 GMT

Nov. 12 (New York Times) -- "People are going to die," pipes
a child's voice at the beginning of "Cool It," Ondi Timoner's
cacophonous portrait of the Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg, whose
2001 book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist," earned him the ire
of the green movement and an accusation of scientific dishonesty.
That accusation didn't stick, but Mr. Lomborg's reputation as a
global-warming denier has been tougher to shake off.
This film, based on Mr. Lomborg's book of the same name,
should go some way toward image rehabilitation, even if Ms.
Timoner is more fearful of boring than confusing us. (Visions of
"An Inconvenient Truth" might have been dancing in her head.)
Planted firmly in the middle ground between end-is-nigh panic and
drill-baby-drill denial, Mr. Lomborg believes the hysteria
surrounding global warming has stifled common sense and
encouraged countries to budget enormous sums of money to achieve
negligible reductions in temperature.
"The current approach is broken," he says, and to prove it
he founded the Copenhagen Consensus Center, filled it with
economists and unleashed them on our most pressing global
challenges. Systematically applying cost-benefit analyses to a
variety of green technologies and persistent worldwide problems
-- disease, poverty, education -- Mr. Lomborg concluded that
improving our planet demanded a more creative, less fearful
allocation of resources.
But after reproving his critics, the news media and climate
activists in general for employing "scare tactics" to gain public
attention, Mr. Lomborg is at the mercy of a director eager to
avoid the same charge. Too often cutesy animation and adorable
children risk obscuring Mr. Lomborg's fascinating assertions. One
of these is contained in an eye-opening section on initiatives
like cap and trade, with a damning Enron memo taking center
stage. Another, focusing on the Atomic Energy Commission's
claimed suppression of a promising wave-power technology, is
almost heartbreaking in its sense of loss.
By the second half, however, Ms. Timoner has found her
footing, and the film really digs in. Debunking claims made by
"An Inconvenient Truth" and presenting alternative strategies,
"Cool It" finally blossoms into an engrossing, brain-tickling
picture as many of Al Gore's meticulously graphed assertions are
systematically -- and persuasively -- refuted. (I was intrigued
to hear Mr. Lomborg say, for instance, that the polar-bear
population is more endangered by hunters than melting ice.)
Blond, boyish and with an irrepressible faith in human
adaptability, Mr. Lomborg is the anti-Gore. Too bad, then, that
the final section of the film shunts him to the margins during a
whirlwind tour of frontier technologies, including artificial
photosynthesis and geo-engineering. This last-minute barrage of
experimental energy strategies may leave you more stupefied than
hopeful, but "Cool It" is all about the pep: playing down the
talking heads and playing up the "git 'er done." If algae can
suck up carbon dioxide and spit out oil, what on earth are we
worrying about?
"Cool It" is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested).
Frightened children and crude animation.
Opens on Friday nationwide.
Directed by Ondi Timoner; written by Terry Botwick, Sarah
Gibson, Bjorn Lomborg and Ms. Timoner, based on the book "Cool
It" by Mr. Lomborg; director of photography, Nasar Abich; edited
by Debra Light, Brian Singbiel and David Timoner; music by N'oa
Winter Lazerus and Sarah Schachner; produced by Mr. Botwick, Ms.
Gibson and Ms. Timoner; released by Roadside Attractions. Running
time: 1 hour 28 minutes.

-0- Nov/12/2010 09:06 GMT