In an unprecedented step, Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film on climate change, has been made available to watch – in full – for free, in a bid to send a message to the world: climate change is a very real threat to millions of people, and governments and the public should act now to avoid the worst impacts.
Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, said Before the Flood would premiere commercial free across digital and streaming platforms around the world as part of the network’s continued commitment to covering climate change.
For every use of #BeforeTheFlood across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram between 24 October and 18 November, 21st Century Fox and National Geographic will together donate $1 to Pristine Seas and $1 to the Wildlife Conservation Society, up to $50,000 to each organisation.
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens, the 96-minute film presents an account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change. The Oscar-winning actor travels to five continents and meets with an array of scientists and leaders, including Obama, Pope Francis and Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Motors.
‘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.’
Actor, campaigner and UN messenger of peace
For DiCaprio’s documentary, Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and marine biologist who heads Nat Geo’s Pristine Seas programme, invited the actor to join him on Canada’s Baffin Island in the Arctic in July 2015 to talk about the melting of sea ice. In the film, Sala describes it as ‘the most dramatic transformation of a large environment ever.’
Sala said DiCaprio’s film differs significantly from Al Gore’s 2006 An Inconvenient Truth because much has changed in the climate change debate in the last decade. Last December in Paris, leaders of 200 countries agreed to cut carbon emissions in an effort to prevent the global temperature from reaching 2 degrees Celsius.
‘When Al Gore made his movie, the deniers were trying to have a debate over whether climate change existed, so Gore tried to make sure that everybody understood climate change was real and caused by human activities. But this is a different time. We are not debating, except for a few loonies, whether climate change exists. What Leo’s movie brings to the table is the extreme sense of urgency. We cannot debate anymore, we have to act.’
Marine biologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence
The film, three years in the making, was intended to be released before the presidential election in the hope of spurring greater action on climate change.
The film will also be screened in several swing states, including Florida, where Governor Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio remain sceptical of climate science.
‘This moment is more important than ever. The science is in. If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts or in science and therefore, in my humble opinion, should not be allowed the honour of holding public office.’
Actor, campaigner and UN messenger of peace
In the film, DiCaprio visits Miami Beach, where sea-level rise is already causing flooding at high tide. After Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tells DiCaprio ‘nobody really wants to talk about climate change’, the film cuts to a clip of Rubio remarking that he ‘does not believe human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.’
DiCaprio has long used his celebrity to draw attention to environmental causes and was named as an United Nations messenger of peace in 2014 for his work as an environmental activist.
At the beginning of Before the Flood, he laments that too many people ‘just tune out’ of discussions about climate change and confesses to the camera that ‘if the UN really knew how I feel, how pessimistic I am about our future, I mean, to be honest, they may have picked the wrong guy.’
During a White House conversation with Obama and Hayhoe, DiCaprio pressed them both for ways to inspire a more meaningful public discussion of climate change that might bring results.
‘Climate change is perversely designed to be hard to solve politically. Political systems are not well designed to do something tough now to solve a problem people are going to feel the impacts of later. If we are going to solve this, we are going to need remarkable innovation.’
President of the USA
Ironically, the filming of The Revenant, the movie for which DiCaprio won the Best Actor Oscar, was beset by the warmest winter in three decades. The crew was forced to flee Canada for lack of snow and shoot the final scenes at the tip of Argentina.
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