Everything’s Cool (documentary)

In “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore explained that global warming is real. In “Everything’s Cool,” documentarians Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand explain why it needs to be explained that global warming is real. If the scientific community in general is convinced of it, why are the American people so far behind?

According to “Everything’s Cool,” a modestly entertaining and occasionally eye-opening documentary, this gap between what scientists know and the general public knows is the result of a misinformation campaign. The oil and coal lobbyists, we’re told, want to position global warming as a debatable theory rather than an understood fact, because the more people are alarmed by climate change and seek to stop it, the less oil and coal they’ll use.

The evidence is damning, particular with regard to George W. Bush’s environmental policies and the right wing’s general dismissal of global warming. Here’s Philip Cooney, who headed the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality for four years despite having previously been a lobbyist for the oil industry. In 2005, the New York Times showed that Cooney had repeatedly changed scientists’ reports on climate change — replacing definite words like “is” and “will” with ambiguous words like “may be” and “could” — in order to make the scientists’ findings on global warming sound less certain than they were. (Cooney has no scientific background himself.) He resigned two days after the Times story “to spend more time with his family,” and was immediately hired by ExxonMobil. This was the man in charge of keeping the president informed on environmental matters, ladies and gentlemen.

Then there’s the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which unilaterally opposes ALL government regulation of industry and commerce. Their current campaign is against global warming science, since if people accept it and seek to do something about it, that will inevitably lead to more regulations placed upon the energy industries. Before adopting anti-global-warming as its pet project, the Competitive Enterprise Institute lobbied for the tobacco industry. Who funds the CEI now? Why, such fine organizations as ExxonMobil, Texaco, Amoco, and the Ford Motor Company, of course! What a happy coincidence for the oil companies and car manufacturers that all the science the CEI finds refutes global warming!

The film has a significant flaw, though, and that’s its lack of focus. There’s a thread about Utah ski-resort workers trying to convert to biodiesel. There are scenes with Heidi Cullen, The Weather Channel’s climate expert, showing how global warming has begun to get more airtime on that network. There’s some nonsense about people’s response to the movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”

A lot of this is fun, but the film rambles on too long and indulges in too many tangents. A tighter focus would serve the film’s educational agenda much better. And hey, a cameo from Al Gore wouldn’t have hurt. That guy really knows how to sell the global warming thing.

B- (1 hr., 40 min.; Not Rated, probably PG for a couple mild profanities.)