Film aims for jugular of warming deniers

2013-03-28T00:00:00Z Film aims for jugular of warming deniersRoger Moore Mcclatchy-tribune News Service Arizona Daily Star

Seven years after "An Inconvenient Truth," what has changed in the world's efforts to come to grips with global warming? The scientific consensus has firmed up, even further. Public opinion has, at last, fallen in line with the science, assisted by any number of in-your-face extreme weather events - epic droughts, record ice melts, multiple applications of the phrase "storm of the century."

But action? Nothing. By anyone.

So filmmaker Craig Scott Rosebraugh ("Seventh Generation") dispenses with conveniences and niceties and goes straight for the jugular with "Greedy Lying Bastards," a documentary about the folks who have fought, stalled and misdirected the international conversation about this dire subject for decades.

Rosebraugh's film is about why no action has been taken, and it names names - discredited scientists, oil industry shills and out-and-out clowns (e.g. Lord Christopher Monckton), the people the climate change-denying corners of the media trot out to cast doubt and delay action.

We visit Kivalina, Alaska, an island village suing Exxon-Mobil and other big oil companies for the rising sea levels that are washing it away. Tuvalu, the South Pacific's poster-nation for rising sea levels, has its say. But we're also treated to wildfire victims who have lost their homes in Colorado.

And then the filmmaker gets after the usual suspects. The Koch brothers, Charles and David, who finance tea party politicians and cloaked "grassroots" lobbying groups like Americans for Prosperity, take their seat next to assorted un-credentialed paid spokespeople such as Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and ex-convict "Dr." Jay Lehr of The Heartland Institute.

Rosebraugh borrows a page out of many a documentary script when he buys Exxon-Mobile stock in order to finally get a question to CEO Rex Tillerson.

The list of "heroes" (U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, ex-EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman) is as familiar as the roll call of "villains" here.

What's fresh here is the tone - rude, blunt and bordering on shrill, bristling voiceovers.

Despite its urgency, one undeniable truth facing this quick-turnaround doc is that the line of scrimmage has moved. Public opinion has shifted, even in the reddest of the red states, as droughts enter their third or fourth year, as storms wash away whole communities or set records for snowfall.

The days when one film could change this debate are past, Rosebraugh seems to be acknowledging. Perhaps he feels that by matching the rhetoric and tone of the denial camp, he can get himself heard above the din.

Fortunately or unfortunately, that background noise now includes the howling wind of the latest superstorm and the cracks of the world's fast-disappearing glaciers. It's a wonder anybody gets heard above that.

Review

Greedy Lying Bastards

*** 1/2

• Director: Craig Scott Rosebraugh.

• Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language.

• Running time: 88 minutes.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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