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 Movie 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, with articles featured in the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker magazine, and the Financial Times.

In 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 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 big difference.

Click for Idle Threat Study Guide and the Idle Threat 5-Year Study Results and Statistics.


IDLE THREAT MOVIE REVIEWS (from Video Project and Amazon):

"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

"Opens a conversation about the relationship between science and society... For students, it provides a case study in how they to could take scientific research to define a problem and then take action as a result. In a high school or college classroom, the video would be a way to start the discussion with students about issues that have an impact on their community. This could be a springboard for them to research a problem and the impacts, and then develop a plan that they could implement to make change."
–NSTA Recommends

A *must-watch* explaining why every city needs green crusaders, NOW!
It has been said that people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care...Once you see this film you'll understand why George Pakenham cared enough to become one of The Big Apple's greenest crusaders (or as he more cleverly self-proclaims, the "Verdant Vigilante").

Through this work and, I have learned how one man's dedication to bring attention to an act that is often overlooked as a harmless everyday-occurrance by ordinary passersby, has helped to challenge law enforcement and raise the brow of commuters and enviornmentalists, globally.

I highly-reccomend this documentary to everyone that breathes.

Finite oil is being squandered. It's not just about clean air
The amount of oil wasted by unnecessary idling may be close to 33 million barrels per year in America alone. It's a resource tragedy when you consider how vital oil is for so many things, and that we'll never get it back. People are largely oblivious to where energy actually comes from.

The arrogance of the drivers who consider Pakenham a nuisance is telling. They are just dumb takers. I don't know if mere education will be enough. Most people just grab what's available to them in the short-term. They are not genetically programmed to consider scarcity and greed is a big factor in behavior.

Activism Personified
In this unique and inspiring film, we are reminded and shown that one person CAN make a difference! How refreshing when it's so easy to "let the other guy do it." To think that one articulate, determined man was willing to put his idea into positive action requiring so much patience, time and effort is a joy to behold. This film deserves a huge audience. I hope those who buy it will share, share, share and spread this important message on the dangers of idling. Bravo to George Pakenham!
-Marjorie Comer

Eye opening!
Everyday, a line of SUV's sit idling outside of my high school waiting for the school day to end. Everyday, parents run their cars for 20 to 30 minutes while waiting for their children to file out of the school. They never give a thought to the fact that their kids walk through poison to get into their comfortable cars or that the heater or air conditioner they are running is simply recycling the exhaust from the car in front of it. More people need to see this video and spread the word that this simple idea will help us all live cleaner and healthier lives!
-Meg Stahley

Idle Threat is not Idle
This documentary is a must see for anyone who cares about the environment and their health. I don't want to spoil the pleasure of seeing this by talking about the content. Suffice it to say that it will amaze you. It is very informative and told with humor.

So many of us sit by idly (no pun intended) and complain about issues without ever trying to do anything about them. This movie shows how one person can make an enormous difference. I found it truly inspiring and would love to see it used in classrooms to spur students towards activism. If you are passionate enough about any issue, you CAN be an agent of change!
-Roberta Gowen

Great for classroom use
I screened this film in my freshman rhetoric courses and it provided excellent material for discussions about eco-activism, as well as how arguments are made in documentary films. The students were able to think critically about their own behavior and engage in thoughtful debate. Highly recommend to educators of teens, young adults, and beyond.

Clean air, anyone?
Many of us living in big cities like New York too often take for granted the air we breathe, unconcerned about the dangerous assault on that air from the constant fumes of cars, trucks, and buses. With courage and tenacity, George Pakenham has taken on a one-man crusade against that assault and presented it all in a way that is clear, convincing and entertaining. If you enjoy breathing clean air, this film is worth watching.

This is the best documentary on engine idling
George is creative, and dynamic, and explains the issue of unnecessary idling. For cities with budget difficulties, think of how much money could be raised just by issuing tickets! It would quickly change behavior, and we wouldn't do it as a society anymore. It just requires a little change in daily behavior.
-Jenny P.

In a world where it is easy to take in everyday problems and simply do nothing about them, Idle Threat tells a tale of a vigilant fight against pollution. The story told by George is easy to relate to and it inspires the viewer to be active in their pursuit of a cleaner environment. Great music and humour round off a fun documentary experience! Bravo!
-Patrick J. Stahley

Idle Threat - an incredible movie
This movie is a call to ALL of us to not just sit back and watch when we see something wrong. I applaud Mr. Pakenham for his unending dedication to his cause. I just wish that I had his determination, guts and stick-to-it attitude. Highly recommend this to EVERYONE.
-Roberta Gowan

Great Idea for all of us to Save our World!
This documentary is highly informative. It shows how each and every one of us can easily prevent thoughtless annihilation of our own planet by performing just one very simple step: Stop drivers from idling their cars for extended periods of time.

Kudos to the producer(s).
-Sherli L.

Important and fun to watch
I have lived in NYC for many years, and never focused on an AVOIDABLE source of pollution that is all around us, in this city and elsewhere. In an interesting and humorous way, this movie shows us what's going on, and what we can do.
-Susan Carlo

Easy changes we can make in our daily lives that can have a massive impact
An enjoyable movie addressing a serious subject- Pakenham's narration makes this an enjoyable view and highlights how an individual can make a big difference to their environment
-Julian C

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