film "Cool It" by Ondi Timoner, presenting Lomborg´s approach to
the film´s contents based on notes taken when watching a
presentation. These notes are incomplete and not necessarily very
Preliminary critical comments are inserted on certain subjects.
Introductory part: the effects of scaring people
The globe is shown as seen from space, and then as seen on
children´s drawings. We hear children´s voices talking
about global warming. They say "The ice is gonna melt" and the animals
will die, the trees will die, and we will also die. Asked when it will
happen, children say that it will happen soon. A girl says "It scares
me so much".
The postulate is that `alarmists´ scare the wit out of
defenseless children. This is hardly an accurate characterization of
the public debate on global warming. One may wonder how the scene with
the school children was arranged. The children must have got a recent
input about global warming from their teacher. Was this arranged in
order to make the children sufficiently upset and scared?
Discussion among adults. Claim: people don´t do enough. But
Lomborg says that the impetus to do something means that trillions of
dollars go to the wrong solutions. This leads to that people see
Lomborg as a traitor.
Rajendra Pachauri, head of IPCC: We must prevent a catastrophic
Lomborg: if we only listen to the worst case scenarios, we are likely
to be spending our money on the people who shout the loudest.
Scenes from Bjørn
Scene from a Copenhagen street, Lomborg on a bicycle (he does not ride
Lomborg recounts details from his childhood. He did not want to kill
animals, so he chose to be a vegetarian. When young, he participated in
the stop-nuclear-power movement. Already as a small boy, he said to his
playmates: "Why don´t we build a wind mill?" So they started to
dig up the parent´s garden to prepare for the wind mill. Again as
a young man, he was concerned about pollution of the coastal waters of
Denmark by nitrates.
"I was a member of greenpeace"
This claim has not been verified. See here.
Checking Julian Simon
In 1997, when Lomborg was applied at Aarhus University, he attended a
conference in Los Angeles. During the stay there, he happened to see an
interview with economist Julian Simon in an article in the Wired
Magazine. The article claimed that the environment was in a good state,
which was provoking. Lomborg thought that this was right wing
propaganda. But he changed his mind when he checked the data. When back
in Denmark, he got Simon´s book, and organized that a class of
his students used half a year to go through the whole book and check
the data. The conclusion was that in the main, Simon was right. This is
not a doomed planet.
This is the story that Lomborg has given right from the start to
explain his motivation. It is hardly fully true, and there remains a
suspicion that it should rather be conceived as a `cover story´.
There are indications that Lomborg had made his conclusion about the
veracity of Simon´s claims already before the alleged `check of
data´ in the following autumn. Also, a closer study reveals that
Lomborg´s first book is not a critical review of Simon´s
book, but rather an extension of Simon´s presentation, partially
even using phrases similar to those of Simon, and with no clear
criticism of any part of Simon´s book. See here.
Conferences dedicated to cost-benefit analysis.
Scenes from discussions at the `Copenhagen Consensus on Climate´
in Washington, September 2009. We see some `top economists´, e.g.
Thomas Schellling, Nancy Stokey.
Next: David Young, head of communications at the Copenhagen Consensus
Center, saying that Lomborg does not deny man-made global warming. Cut
from BBC HARDtalk 2002, where Lomborg says "Global warming is
happening" (but not that it is clearly man-made!).
Next: Gwyn Prins, British Economist: Why is it so difficult to limit
the human influence on climate?
Zsusza Horvath, Lomborg´s assistent: We cannot solve the climate
problem if the cost is too high.
Stephen Schneider appears here in the first of many small shots in the
The DCSD case
Read about the complaint to the Danish Committees for Scientific
Dishonesty (DCSD) here.
Support to Lomborg from top economist Jagdish Bhagwati.
Retired British economist Freeman Dyson (who is against the Kyoto
protocol): "Lomborg is someone I admire very much." A newspaper headline appears:
"Lomborg is the devil
Nobody ever called Lomborg the devil incarnate. That was a
journalist´s interpretation of the debate. See here.
- Lomborg says that the committes could not prove him dishonest. The
intent of the complaint was political.
was systematically one-sided in the
choice of data, but did not declare that this bias was deliberate. As
to the intents motivating the complaint, Lomborg is not right. The
complaint was started by me (Kåre Fog), and the only person who
knows the motives for this first complaint, is therefore me. I can say
that my motives were not political.
that I do not accept that people lie and mislead
deliberately without being called out on it.
Lomborg: It could have cost me my job. The day when the decision of the
DCSD was announced, was the worst day of my life.
In the situation, as it was, it should have cost him his job. The
complaint was lodged by me
precisely on the day when Lomborg applied for the position as director
of the newly made Environmental Assessment Institute, which was set up
especially for him. The person (Lomborg´s former teacher) who
solely decided who got the position, did not even bother to read in
Lomborg´s book, and ignored the proofs of Lomborg´s
pervasive deliberate dishonesty which had been brought to his
attention. It is a scandal that Lomborg got the position in spite of
Peter Pagh, Danish professor of environmental law, who helped Lomborg
to have the verdict annulled: "They made him a liar. That made me very
angry and upset."
Lomborg was not `made´ a liar. There were several solid proofs
that he was indeed a liar . Pagh failed to study the evidence for this
and only heard Lomborg´s version of the conflict. Lomborg has a
very well developed ability to persuade people not to hear the other
side of the conflict, see here.
A Dutch professor, Arthur Rörsch, gathered forces in Holland in
defense of Lomborg. He and coworkers produced an article in the Journal
Information Ethics; the title page is shown. The article demonstrated
that the accusations against Lomborg were mainly unfounded and that
Lomborg made only a small number of mistakes.
Comment: For a balanced
presentation, it would have been necessary to mention also that the
paper was countered by a reply article by Kåre Fog in the
following number of Journal of Information Ethics. All claims by
Rörsch et al. were repudiated there (see references here).
The film defends the right to free speech and free research. It
criticizes that a scientific debate became a public debate and a
Here, everything is turned upside down. Lomborg did not produce a
scientific debate. He made a shortcut by making the debate public and a
political issue right from the start, instead of having a debate first
with scientific peers. Only in that way could he publish claims that
were deliberately misleading. The complaints about dishonesty lodged by
me and others were an (aborted) attempt to have the scientific facts
Rajendra Pachauri: The conflict has over time become softened. He
criticizes that `they´ (the plaintiffs or the committee members)
just came up and said that
he is dishonest.
distortion of the facts. I and others did not just
come up and say that Lomborg is dishonest. We procured copious
documentation for the dishonesty. Unfortunately, in the ruling of DCSD,
no concrete mention is made of any of the documentation that was
procured. They just said that the documentation was a part of the case
and as such also a part of the decision. So the documentation was
there, but Lomborg who pleads to be innocent, falsely claims that there
were no proofs against him. Unfortunately, he manages to persuade
people like Pachauri that this was so, and unfortunately, such people
fail to hear the other side before they make their judgment.
Lomborg and his mother
We see Lomborg visiting his mother, who is now suffering from a
beginning Alzheimer´s disease and lives at a residential home for
the elderly. He calls her every day, and tries to visit her at least
once per month.
It is not obvious why this scene is included here. However, in comments
to the film, Lomborg has explained that the never-failing support from
his mother was the main reason why he could withstand the storms caused
by the harsh criticism.
Lomborg´s secretary describes how much Lomborg travels around in
the world. As an example, we hear about his participation in a
Hearings on energy policy
Scenes are shown from March 2007 when Al Gore testified at a joint
meeting of two subcommittees in the US House of Representatives. Here,
he called for an immediate freeze on CO2 emissions. We
see the scene - arranged by Lomborg - when Al Gore shakes hands with
Lomborg. Lomborg comments on this, correctly, that the smile on Al
Gore´s face shows that this happened the second before he
realized who he was actually greeting.
The USA did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. According to Lomborg, that
was good. If fully implemented, the Kyoto Protocol would cost $180
billion per year, and reduce the global temperature by only 0.008°
in the year 2100.
Lomborg: "It´s about time we realise that the current approach is
The EU will cut 20 percent of its CO2 emissions by 2020.
That will cost $250 bn a year, and it will reduce global temperture by
0.1° F by 2100.
Scenes from the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen in 2009.
Lomborg: "We need to tackle climate change smartly."
We hear Daniel Kammen, lead author of the IPCC report section on
Lomborg: There are many meetings, but no action. People talk of cutting
C emissions, but it will raise the price of energy.
We hear James Hansen, climate scientist at NASA.
We hear Newt Gingrich saying that Obama´s proposed global warming
bill will raise energy prices dramatically.
Gingrich´s figures seem to be vastly exaggerated (link). They also
overestimate the costs to an American family by a factor of about ten
because they disregard that about 90 percent of the tax revenue is
returned to the public (link).