Cool It is an environmental documentary that attempts to put to rest many myths about climate change that Al Gore had made popular in his 2006 factual juggernaut An Inconvenient Truth. It follows controversial environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg through his own Powerpoint presentation, not through the dangers and disasters caused by global warming, but through their solutions. He believes that the current attitudes towards the issue are defined by scaremongering, hyperbole and exploitation. It is his belief that by focussing on the issues that terrify us, instead of the reality of the situation, we will throw away billions of dollars that could go towards more important issues.
However there are two very important stumbles he makes and, unfortunately, both of those stumbles come to define the acts that they are ever present in. The first part of the film focuses on Bjørn Lomborg himself. Not his ideas but his persecution at the hands of a scientific community whom he outraged with his book “The Sceptical Environmentalist”. It paints a picture of corruption and greed, of the scientific establishment trying to save face and restore the status quo, while this heroic young figure fights against the power, trying to get people to listen to the new ideas that will save our planet and abandon the ones that he thinks will lead us on a path to futility.
It plays out like a political thriller, the theme of which is kept up throughout the film. Later we find out that man lost his job for daring to say that the Levies in New Orleans were poorly designed and that the development of wave energy as a renewable resource was made defunct because the company chosen to test it out made it’s money from nuclear energy. But it also builds up the protagonist as a renegade, a guardian angel for the O-Zone layer. And it is this where the first act makes it’s mistake. After spending so long discrediting An Inconvenient Truth, the film finds itself not only underneath the shadow cast by this far more successful film, but in doing so much to expose its tricks, it leaves the audience wary of its own. Is casting this man as a shining light in the darkness of ignorance, creating a celebrity out of him and using that star power to drive home the point of the film, any less distracting than telling us the planet will die in ten years if we don’t do something?
The second mistake makes itself clear in the final act and brings into question the spirit in which the film has been made. It’s attempt to stabilize our emotions about climate change, instead of heighten them, means that the film can only be very little more than “quite interesting”. While this is fine for BBC2 panel shows, a cinematic documentary needs an element of the cinematic about it. In the last half hour of the film, Bjørn (finally) starts getting into the meat and potatoes of what his ideas for sustainable climate recovery are. But by this point the films failure to engage an audience means his pleas will fall on deaf ears. Say what you like about An Inconvenient Truth people were listening by the end of it and remembering it afterwards.
The biggest problem this film has is its abject failure to entertain caused by its lack of direction. It veers between hopeful optimism, conspiracy thriller and environmental lecture, but as a result, every element takes away from every other element. The result is a weak soup of banner waving on a still day and finger pointing at a hundred yards. The conspiracy stuff isn’t thrilling, the humour falls flat (especially damning when you consider alternative views like this thrive on irreverent jokes) and the points, while interesting, are never compelling.
I like Bjørn Lomborg, I find his ideas are relevant and more needs to be done on this issue that isn’t geared towards profit and publicity. But no one will ever follow you’re ideas if you merely tell people about them. You need to inspire.