Owning the Weather

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It’s simply not true that everybody talks about the weather but no one does anything about it: Humans have been trying to get their hands on the planetary thermostat since they dropped down from the trees. And as this breezy doc by Robert Greene (All In: The Poker Movie) demonstrates, questions of how, why and whether we can thus take charge have lately become a lot more urgent with the realization that we are already committed to an ad-hoc experiment in planetary climate modification thanks to a century and change of petroleum-based mass production.

The film canvasses a spectrum of existing and proposed technologies for tweaking global temperatures and precipitation patterns ranging from the familiar (seeding rain clouds with silver iodide crystals) to the James Bondian (interposing millions of tiny reflectors between us and the sun), then lets proponents and critics hash out the political and environmental implications. Greene manages to convey the momentousness of the stakes without hitting that heart-sinking enviro-bummer button built into so many well-intended ecological docs.

Unfortunately, the film is also haphazardly organized and frustratingly repetitive. It’s also disappointingly light on both hard science and history: I came away confused as to whether the cloud-seeding thing really works, and I was staggered that Greene couldn’t find room for at least a mention of dear, crazy old Wilhelm Reich, the renegade Freudian who used to make it rain by draining invisible “deadly orgone energy” from the sky with his amazing “cloudbuster” machine.

By: Cliff Doerksen

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Release details

Duration: 95 mins

Cast and crew