05 November 2016

Before the Flood

(oops! I missed a day already! but this post is twice as long as my minimum word count so that should help make up for it)

K and I watched a new documentary called “Before the Flood”. It was put together by Leonard DiCaprio and is currently streaming on the National Geographic channel and on YouTube.

It’s a documentary with a very clear message about climate change, humanity’s role in climate change, and practical ways that we can make changes in our daily lives and in our national policies in order to mitigate some of the changes.

In 2014, Leonardo DiCaprio was designated as a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.

As the UN website states:
“Messengers of Peace are individuals who possess widely recognized talents in the fields of art, film, literature, music and sports, helping to raise worldwide awareness of the Organization’s ideals and activities. Through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work, they expand public understanding of how the United Nations helps to improve the lives of people everywhere.”

The United Nations often appoints celebrities as messengers or unofficial ambassadors for particular causes. It is a time-proven way of bringing attention to an issue the the Secretary General has identified as important. Particularly if that issue is facing opposition and is in need of popular support to make a change. Angelina Jolie is another example, she was a Goodwill Ambassador on refugee issues for eleven years, from 2001 to 2012. In 2012, she was given the new position of Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Her frequent visits and vocal support for refugees and displaced people has arguably made a large difference in public understanding and sympathy for these populations.

Before watching this documentary, I was not aware that Leonardo DiCaprio was involved in climate change issues. His involvement in the documentary seemed a bit forced and like simply a publicity stunt. But one that I was willing to check out because I believe in the importance of bringing the issue to the public eye.

However, watching the documentary and learning more about his background, I discovered that he has been involved in environmental protection for many years! The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was formed in 1998 and has the mission:

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is dedicated to the long-term health and wellbeing of all Earth’s inhabitants. Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.

The documentary was well done in that it certainly pushed the crisis and consequences of our current state but also provided some concrete ways to make a difference on an individual level and then practical policies to advocate for on a national level.

K and I decided immediately to:
  1. Change our energy provider to a renewable energy source
  2. Cut down on our beef consumption - with a goal of only one meal per week
  3. Look for the possibility of buying a hybrid car (we’re currently in the market for a car, so this is a great criterion to add)

On the larger scale, many of the interviewees in the documentary spoke about the importance of public opinion - once public opinion strongly supports a move to environmentally friendly policies, our leaders will pursue them.

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