George Pakenham

37 & 63 Min.
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Idling engines consume more than 6 billion gallons of gasoline annually in the U.S., a significant but little-known contributor to local air pollution, respiratory disease and global climate change.

Idle Threat

Idle Threat is a lively look at one man's spirited struggle to improve public health by raising awareness about idling's impact, starting in New York City.Against all odds, he succeeds, helping improve local air quality, and in the process gains world-wide recognition for the anti-idling cause.

In a white shirt and tie, Wall Street banker George Pakenham has walked the streets of New York for over five years, courteously confronting over 3,000 motorists to explain the idling's impact and the law prohibiting running a parked vehicle for more than a short time. Responses vary from thanks to anger, but Pakenham never wavers. He's determined that the problems idling poses be recognized, and lobbies successfully for the city to enforce its idling laws.

Featuring Click and Clack from NPR's Car Talk, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Idle Threat profiles one man's challenging quest to make his city and the world a healthier place, and shows that sometimes one person -- and a simple act like turning a key -- can make a difference.


Highly recommended. An eye-opening documentary that draws attention to a common problem, and a solution, that few people even recognize. It also shows the link between individual actions and solving broader environmental and political problems such as energy dependence, environmental pollution, and public health challenges. Well-done and entertaining...."
-Educational Media Reviews Online

"In an engaging and informative approach to a serious environmental issue,Idle Threat tells the story of effective citizen engagement and impact."
- Holly Wise, Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability

"In the vein of Michael Moore's cinéma vérité, Pakenham becomes our man on the street accosting idlers who pollute the streets of NYC with their vehicles' exhaust. The film manages to make you realize the deadly dangers present at the same time it makes you laugh out loud."
- Prof. Cathleen Miller, San Jose State University, author of Champion of Choice

"An entertaining and informative ride that shows how citizens who care can make a difference."
- Marc Norman, Director of UPSTATE, Syracuse University School of Architecture

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Woodstock Film Festival
Greenpoint Film Festival
Three Rivers Film Festival
Wild and Scenic Film Festival