Leonardo DiCaprio’s Climate Change Documentary Is the Most Important Film Of Our Lifetime (Video)

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Many of the world’s oldest civilizations include great floods in their origin myths, tales of a planet being washed away by the gods only to be reborn. For followers of Christianity, the Biblical fable of Noah’s Ark is one such origin myth, and it has oftentimes been cited as proof that, before human beings had the capacity to understand climate change, fabulous stories of great floods brought on by angry deities helped explain sudden changes in the earth’s environments. In 2016, the propensity for flooding on Planet Earth is now understood by scientists to be, in fact, symptoms of a global problem that in most cases are brought on by man. And yet, despite all of the historical tales (or perhaps, warnings) of great floods, hellish fire, and incredible plagues, climate change seems incapable of becoming the undisputedly most important issue of our time. In fact, it was not the subject of a single question from a moderator in any of the three presidential debates between nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – an astonishing fact, considering the whole world could flood.

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At least, that’s the warning that inspires the title of a new Leonardo DiCaprio-led documentary. Before the Flood is a sprawling look at climate change and global warming, and the impending doom our planet faces if implications of changes in weather patterns, animal behaviors, and other alarming indicators are ignored. Produced by National Geographic, the film includes stunning imagery of melting icebergs, ravaging fires, and devastating floods alongside footage of DiCaprio’s global travels on behalf of the United Nations as a Messenger of Peace on Climate Change. On October 20, Ambrosia for Heads attended a screening of the film, which also included appearances from DiCaprio, director Fisher Stevens, Secretary of State John Kerry, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, NASA Scientist Piers Sellers, Russell Simmons, Mark Ruffalo, and others.

before the flood

The film takes place, fittingly, in the parts of the world where evidence of climate change is most obvious. The Canadian Arctic, where melting icebergs are raising sea levels at an enormous rate; Beijing, China, which is home to one of the world’s most polluted pockets of industrialization; Haryana, India, where the nationwide trend of only 50% of citizens having access to electricity is painfully clear through its reliance on coal; Abaiang, Kiribati, an island nation in the Central Pacific where flooding is so severe, the local government had to purchase land in Fiji for impending migration of its people; Sumatra, Indonesia, where intentional fires are decimating the rainforest to create palm-oil fields; Denmark, where on some days, 100% of its energy is sourced from wind; and Paris, France, where in 2015 the world’s most important summit on climate took place.

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To offer a wide-ranging set of perspectives on the devastating effects of climate change, interviews with President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Pope, Elon Musk, UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, are included, as are interviews with climatologists, professors, directors of NGOs, marine ecologists, animal conservationists, astronauts, and many more. Of course, the film includes some mind-boggling statistics, including that by 2040, we will be able to sail through the North Pole. Greenland is on the fast track to disappearing entirely, as has 50% of all coral already. 10-12% of total U.S. emissions comes from consumption of beef. And countless other facts that could very well change your entire perspective about what you can do to help.

The film concludes with a powerful speech from DiCaprio, who addresses the more than 100 nations gathered at the Paris Climate Summit. There, he says “everything I have seen on my [three-year] journey has absolutely terrified me,” adding “we have the means of stopping this devastation, but simply lack the political will to do so. Yes, we have achieved the Paris agreement. More countries have come together here to sign this agreement today than for any other cause in the history of humankind. And that is reason for hope. But unfortunately, the evidence shows us that will not be enough. A massive change is required right now. One that leads to a new collective consciousness, a new collective evolution of the human race, inspired and enabled by a sense of urgency from all of you…After 21 years of debates and conferences, it is time to declare no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing the fossil fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that affect our future. The world is now watching. You will either be lauded by future generations or vilified by them. You are the last, best hope of Earth. We ask you to protect or we, and all living things we cherish, are history.”

To find out what you, as an individual, can do to help ensure the planet is here for your children, grandchildren, and the billions of organisms that make life possible, readers are encouraged to visit the official website for the United States’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).