Leonardo DiCaprio explains the basics of climate change in a documentary that encourages climate activism

By Nina Steele 

Leonardo DiCaprioIn the documentary “Before the Flood”, currently showing on Netflix, Leonardo DiCaprio explains the basics of climate change, with contributions from climate scientists and other prominent figures from across the globe.

Human activities, particularly our heavy reliance on fossil fuels, are accelerating climate change. The effects of climate change include the melting of the polar ice caps, rising seas, floods, droughts and wildfires. Events we have been witnessing for some time now. To fight climate change effectively, we need to change the way our economies work by weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.

Since reversing climate change means relying less and less on fossil fuels and promoting alternative sources, those who stand to lose the most are going on the counter attack with disinformation campaigns. By so doing, they are effectively choosing to ignore the opinions of 97% of climate scientists who all agree that the climate is changing in great part because of our reliance on fossils fuels. So basically, the future of the planet is being put at risk for short term gains. And to make sure that things stay as they are, the major players within the fossil fuel industry are using their deep pockets to buy political influence.

But all is not lost. We as citizens can use our power, in terms of votes for example, to initiate change. Indeed, if we really want change, we need to vote into office people we know will bring about that change. We have the power to make a difference whether these corporations like it or not.

Although fossil fuels are mainly to blame for climate change, other human practices are also adding to the problem. For example, the increased use of land to produce crops that are heavily used in consumer goods. Palm oil being one example. Deforestation on a massive scale is happening just so companies can add palm oil to their manufactured goods. Once again, short term gain is being put above the long term health of the planet. It’s up to us consumers to take a stand by putting pressure on corporations to come up with more sustainable alternatives.

Similarly, our heavy consumption of meat is also causing climate change. For example, 70% of land used for food production in the US goes into producing cattle feed. And the problem with cows is that they produce methane and methane is a known greenhouse gas. So in a nutshell, simply changing your meat consumption from beef to chicken for example, will considerably reduce your carbon footprint.

Having said that, the quickest way to bring about change, the documentary suggests, is to bring about a carbon tax. The introduction of a carbon tax will mean that the greater an individual’s carbon footprint, the greater the tax they will have to pay. And as we all know, hit people in the pocket and they are more likely to take action.

My only criticism of the documentary is that it does not focus enough on overpopulation as a major contributing factor for climate change. It does mention it a few times but not enough in my view. And to make matters worse, DiCaprio went to meet the pope as part of the documentary, even though the Catholic Church is part of the problem on overpopulation. That he failed to make the correlation between the church’s teachings and overpopulation, particularly in parts of the developing world where the church still wields great power, was a major let-down.

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