Review: Cool It: A Fresh Look at Global Warming

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Scientific communities across the Western world are up in arms over a new documentary from a Danish environmentalist, Bjorn Lomborg. In Cool It Lomborg, author of The Sceptical Environmentalist, tackles global warming and takes the controversial stance that there’s no need to panic – the effects of global warming are less drastic and more slow-developing than we imagine.

Backed by detailed research and data, as well as by various experts in their fields, Lomborg’s approach is that yes, our climates are changing but there are reasonable ways to deal with it.

Lomborg has the credentials to take on such a topic: he is the founder of the economic think tank, Copenhagen Consensus, which brings together the world’s leading economists to prioritise major global problems — among them malaria, the lack of potable water and HIV/AIDS — based upon a cost/benefit analysis of available solutions.

Despite a somewhat amateurish air, the film is well narrated, fast-paced and to-the-point with some great visuals from award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner;  a decent watch if you don’t have a lot of time but want to see something educational. Information comes thick and fast but the parts that stick certainly leave an impression.

With decades of research and data, it’s clear that the U.S, China and India are the biggest contributors of carbon emission.  The whole of the EU sits between the US and India, with South Africa in 13th place. The documentary claims that although there has been a huge amount of effort and significant amounts of money thrown towards taming the effects of it, it has mostly been in vain.

Lomborg’s suggestions are, he claims, more practical.  For instance, urbanisation has led to heat waves in cities across the world.  His solution: paint roads and roof tops white to deflect the sun. Some scientists scoff at his “flippant” approach to viable solutions, but Lomborg insists that while previous efforts should be appreciated, they should now be re-prioritized.

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore features a segmentabout global warming’s contribution to the melting of glaciers in the Arctic. With fewer ice floes to stand on, he says, polar bears – despite being excellent long distance swimmers – are drowning for lack of ‘islands’ on which to rest while hunting or migrating. This heartbreaking image naturally sparked public outrage and much picketing.

Lomborg tends to dismiss the polar bear story as scare tactics for political persuasion, claiming that data on polar bear population groups suggests they are larger than ever.  He remarks that if we really want to help save polar bears we should stop shooting them. It seems there is still an annual quota for polar bear hunting both as a sport and for subsistence.

There’s no doubt that the views Lomborg expresses are controversial.  But he does so with an appearance of open, sincere honesty which makes for compelling viewing.

We like Bjorn Lomborg because he checks his facts, appreciates everyone’s opinion and isn’t afraid to challenge a well-endorsed perception. Although you may not agree with everything he says, he’s definitely a man of action, and one to make a difference. This is a film that ought to be seen by everyone, from school kids upwards.  Whether you agree with his views or not, it offers a fresh perspective on a glum but significant world issue, and it will make you think.

Kate West

Cool It is showing at Ster Kinekor Cinema Nouveau screens across the country from 25 November 2011.

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