Andy Revkin Reviews Bjorn Lomborg's New Film 'Cool It'

Andy Revkin has posted an initial review on his Dot Earth blog about Bjorn Lomborg’s new film ‘Cool It.’

Head over to Dot Earth to read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt of important points and observations from Revkin about the film:

In “Cool It,” Lomborg breezily ticks down a laundry list of high-tech ways to engineer the atmosphere, for example, but punts on the tougher questions related to such planet-scale enterprises — such as the inevitable diplomatic dispute over who sets the planetary thermostat and how blocking the sun does nothing to stem the buildup of carbon dioxide, much of which will stay in the atmosphere for many centuries.

He proposes spending tens of billions of dollars (a bargain, he insists, compared to the hundreds of billions that would be spent on a cap-and-trade style approach), but he doesn’t say how he’d convince the United States or China to adopt the necessary carbon tax.

And he doesn’t deal with the full pipeline for innovation that is required to take a promising technology from idea to breakthrough. A greatly intensified research effort is a vital, but insufficient, facet of any plan to foster progress without disrupting the climate.

Its chiding tone in places is unlikely to build the sense of consensus and excitement around an energy quest that Lomborg seems to desire.

The film makes fun of British students exploring ways to save energy instead of pointing to such students — and education on the globe’s energy challenge — as a critical component of a strategy to foster progress without overheating the planet.

I would have loved to see Timoner explore the world’s energy challenge and opportunities without building her film around the tug of war between liberals and libertarians. I think there’s a way, but that’s easy for me to say.

The film is provocative and well worth seeing, and I’m sure it’ll have a long life on Netflix. But my guess is that it will end up being  another slosh to the shallow pan of public attitudes on climate.


The kind of research that is vital to bring geo-engineering from smart-ass idea to working technology is precisely what is also needed to turn general circulation models into operational engineering tools – because that’s how they will be used once we start geo-engineering. Actually putting the aerosols up there is childishly simple by comparison… volcanoes do it all the time, accidentally.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, it is amazing to witness the kind of trust some folks place in geoengineering, as contrasted to their lack of same in the most essential tool for doing it right.