The Truths From Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before The Flood"
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Politics and Activism

The Truths From Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before The Flood"

Climate change is real and urgent, and DiCaprio teams up with National Geographic to share the truths.

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The Truths From Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before The Flood"

On October 21st, National Geographic released "Before the Flood," a special on climate change starring Leonardo DiCaprio. This week, the 1 hour and 36 minute special circulated the internet, as it was free to watch for a short period of time. DiCaprio spent two years traveling the globe, experiencing climate changes from the air pollution in China, the ravaged rain forests of Indonesia, to the flooding of our own home country of America.

DiCaprio became interested in climate change at a very young age, from which he says his first memory was of a painting, called The Garden of Earthly Delights- that hung above his crib. It is a three panel painting by the Renaissance artist Bosch. The first panel depicts an image of the creation and harmony of the world, the second panel, named "Before the Flood," is an image of the Earth ravaged by sin and humankind's desire to take life into their own hand. The third panel hauntingly depicts the consequences of the second panel.

"Before the Flood" was an informative and moving documentary. Leonardo DiCaprio discovers that the more he learns about climate change on his journey, the more he realizes he actually does not know. He learns so many things that he was ignorant to be fore, and through the special, we feel the same way.

We all know the basics of climate change-the Earth's temperature is rising, the ice is melting, the sea levels are rising, and we are burning forests and using too many fossil fuels. The Ocean-full of coral reefs-and rain forests act as Carbon buffers for us, but we are destroying them and leaving ourselves vulnerable. "Before the Flood" educates us beyond these commonly known facts, and extrapolates on what will happen because of all of this-and what we can try to do to help.


The ice is melting-that we know for a fact. But do we know just how badly and quickly this is occurring? In the film, we learn that by 2040, we will be able to sail through the North Pole, because there will be no ice left to stop us from doing so. The land of Greenland has melted thirty feet in just the last five years. Thirty feet is about five twin mattresses stacked on top of each other, the tall way.

When DiCaprio was shooting scenes in Northern Canada for his recent movie The Revenant, there was no snow. Snow had to be shipped in to the set so that the scenes could have the necessary climate. It is not just the North Pole and Greenland that is suffering this kind of melting-it is our own continent.

(Photo from a scene of "Before the Flood," as DiCaprio explores the melting ice.)


All of this melting causes the sea level to rise-that we know as a fact, too. DiCaprio visited small islands will soon be swallowed up by the sea, no longer existing. And this is occurring in our home country as well. Florida is greatly susceptible to flooding and rising sea levels, so much so that it would be the first state to disappear. Florida even often has an occurrence called "Sunny Day Flooding," where the weather is warm and there is not a cloud in the sky, but rising water levels cause the streets to flood through sewers and drains.

(An example of "Sunny Day Flooding" in Miami, FL.)


While this has been an apparent issue over the last few decades, and increasingly so in the last couple of years, why have we yet to do anything about it? What can we even do about it? These are common questions, questions that Leonardo DiCaprio himself asked in the film.

The problems he found originate from the misconceptions we have about climate change. Many people do not believe in it because that is what we are taught. Big companies that greatly add to our climate disaster-companies like Exxon, Shell, and BP-send out messages that climate change does not exist. They want the public to deny this issue so that they can still have business. These, and other big companies-like Kraft, who is adding to the deforestation rapidly so that they may obtain palm olive for their products-organize anti-climate change movements so that they may simply stay in business.

Another detriment to helping stop climate change is the politicians in office. Many officials-like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump-do not believe in climate change. If they, and other governmental officials do not believe in climate change, then the necessary laws for climate change will never be passed.

DiCaprio insists, in that aspect, that it is greatly up to us to change the politicians' minds. Once we, as a mass, demand a change, the politicians will soon be on board. The film used the example that when Barack Obama was originally campaigning, he was publicly against gay marriage. However, people banded together for the cause, and it was President Obama who then signed the gay marriage law into effect. Once we band together for the cause, the politicians will be on board, as well.

(In the film, Leonardo DiCaprio talks with President Obama regarding climate change.)


DiCaprio also visits the idea of a "Carbon Tax" multiple in the film as an answer to the climate change issue. A "Carbon Tax" would simply tax anything that emits carbon into the air. While raising taxes might seem like a bad idea at first, ultimately it could. Putting a "Carbon Tax" into effect would lead people to choose more renewable options. This type of tax has actually been done before, with positive outcomes. In the past, there has been a higher tax placed on cigarettes, which has ultimately lead to less cigarette consumption!


Another big question stands-what about solar and wind power? And that is a very real question, a question that DiCaprio also asks.

A shocking fact was shared in the film: the sun produces 1,000 times the energy we need for power in one day than we use in one year. So why hasn't America gotten on board with solar and wind power yet? There is no good answer to this question-we just do not have the will.

Solar and wind power have proven positive in other countries. Germany relies mainly on solar power, instead of fossil fuels. Denmark relies nearly on 100% wind power. Sweden has recently had an uprising from the citizens, as they have been concerned about their country's carbon use. Because of that, the government has promised to begin using other power sources-relating back to the fact that the people have the power to persuade the government in this issue!

Once solar and wind power structures are built, we basically have free power for a lifetime. Yet, sadly, America has yet to figure this out!

(An image of Denmark's solar power structures.)


All these governmental changes may seem difficult, and they can take a long time. Leonardo DiCaprio acknowledged that in the film, and searched for answers for something we can do about climate change ourselves right now. He learned, and shared with us in the film, that simply changing our diet can greatly help climate change. For example, beef and cows are more harmful to our climate than we realize. The United States alone dedicates a large amount of the country's land to cattle farming. The truth is, cattle release harmful methane into the air as they eat and burp. Silly as it may seem, it is true. We do not need to become vegetarians and completely cut out beef from our diets, but cutting out beef 50, to even 25%, or switching to chicken, actually will greatly decrease the amount of methane released into the air.


Together, as a team of countries around the world, we have recently taken a huge step in the right direction. In 2015, a large number of countries met together to pass the Paris Agreement-an agreement that brings all nations together to begin to do as much as possible to help combat climate change. They even talked about the "Carbon Tax."

If these countries will actually follow through with the Agreement, we can not be sure. However, it is a monumental start. In the film, President Obama acknowledged that it is the architecture of the solution for the problem. And Pope Francis acknowledged it as well, agreeing that it is step in the right direction.

(DiCaprio meets with Pope Francis, discussing the Paris Agreement.)


At the conclusion of the film, the scary questions remain: are we doing enough? What will the future hold for Earth? Is it too late?

DiCaprio reflects on this issue. He looks out into the city, realizing that we need to change each tiny light, change each car there is. And when you zoom out of the picture, you will see all the endless amount of lights and cars on Earth that need to be rebuilt and changed to be un-harmful. It is overwhelming.

The message needs to be overwhelming. We need to understand the fact that climate change is a real and urgent issue. President Obama reflects that he does not want his children and his grandchildren growing up in a world without beautiful glaciers and animals. Pope Francis urges that we need to band together to save our "common home." And Leonardo DiCaprio reminds us that it would be shameful of us to have the means, but not the will, to help stop climate change.

All information in the article was obtained from the film "Before the Flood." Watch the trailer on the National Geographic Channel, here.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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