Before the Flood

It’s Oscar’s time and Leonardo DiCaprio has been robbed once more – this time of a nomination for his latest documentary, ‘Before The Flood’, he both starred in and produced with Fisher Stevens.

DiCaprio, the UN Messenger of Peace, undertook this film for the National Geographic Channel. It debuted October 30, 2016 and was initially released free for one week. It shows scenes from his travels around the world over a three-year period. DiCaprio is passionate about climate change, and he serves as a stand-in for those that might not know too much about it by interviewing and asking discerning questions in the documentary.

Sea levels are rising, ice is melting, dangerous weather patterns are more common. Before the Flood is an educational documentary. It shows us what is happening to the world, what will happen in the future and what we can do to stop it.

Before the flood sea temperatures

During the documentary DiCaprio and Barack Obama discuss the historic Paris agreement where countries met to discuss the steps and targets they had to make to deal with this problem in a serious way. They fear that due to climate change resources will be scarce and be subject to competition between populations in the future.

The Revenant star described his experience as “an incredible three-year journey that took place with my co-creator and director Fisher Stevens. We went to every corner of the globe to document the devastating impacts of climate change and questioned humanity’s ability to reverse what may be the most catastrophic problem mankind has ever faced.”

DiCaprio travelled around the world to witness how countries like China and India are dealing with climate change, and had a first-hand account of the effects of climate change and an insight of worse things to come.

Before The Flood shows us that Greenland’s melting ice is causing change, it no longer reflects the sun but absorbs it, becoming a heat creator rather than a reflector. And we see how Miami Beach, Florida is having to raise the elevation of its roads to deal with rising water levels. We also see how developing communities in places like India are already battling pollution even when their population don’t completely have access to power. When coal-produced electricity becomes available, the climate change problem will only become worse.

before the flood

Our small carbon footprints can make a difference. So, what can we do to stop climate change?

1. Save energy
It’s simple, switch off the lights when you don’t need them. Use energy efficient lightbulbs. Unplug computers and televisions when not in use. Look for the energy symbol on electronics when purchasing. Use solar panel or windmill energy if available in your area. 

2. Change form of transport
By carpooling or going by bus it emits less fossil fuels into the environment. Walking or cycling can save the environment but it can also benefit your health and you’ll save money.

3. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Reduce your waste. Complain to manufacturers who use too much packaging. Reuse shopping bags, boxes, bottles, etc. Encourage children to use waste materials for arts and crafts. Recycling and composting benefits the environment as landfills produce methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Having separate bins for glass, paper, compost and general waste leaves less waste in the landfills. Irish company Wilton Waste claim that:

  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • Aluminum cans can be recycled and ready to use in just 6 weeks.
  • Around 50% of waste in the average bin can be composted.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable and can be reused over and over.
  • Glass that is thrown in landfills will never decompose.
  • Recycled paper produces 73% less air pollution than if it was made from raw materials.
  • It takes 24 trees to make a ton of newspaper.
  • Plastic takes up to 500 years to compose.

4. Eat wisely
Avoid processed foods. Buy organic foods. Try to grow some of your own food. Try to eat one meat free meal a day as 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy production.

The film even highlights specific changes we can make that are as simple as changing our diet. Methane produced from the cattle industry is a massive polluter, but if citizens simply reduced eating beef from their diet, a portion of that pollution would be gone. If you can’t ditch meat altogether consider replacing beef in the diet with chicken as chicken production produces less methane and takes up less land space and consider becoming a reducetarian.

5. Get involved
Contact local TDs and media to tell them about climate change. State that reducing gases will make communities healthier, spur economic innovation and create new jobs. Join your local environmental group and read HeadStuff’s weekly environmental section for more ideas like ditching your plastic bottle habit and how to green your period.

Leonardo di caprio and Elon Musk
Di Caprio speaks to Elon Musk about transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy at his Solar battery gigafactory.

The burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas is a major cause of climate change, which is worsening hunger and poverty in the developing world. The Irish Government recently voted to divest our wealth from fossil fuel companies in the world. It’s a huge step in the right direction for Ireland. Check out the GoFossilFree campaign to see which universities and businesses you care about are being lobbied to follow suit.

Fossil fuels are behind the carbon emissions that are causing climate change. Climate change is already having a devastating impact on the world’s poorest people. Today, around 10 million people in Ethiopia, roughly twice the population of Ireland, need food aid due to an El Nino drought, which has been made worse due to climate change.

In the documentary, Barack Obama spoke about COP21 in Paris in December 2015. Governments across the world, including the Irish Government, agreed to tackle climate change. The Paris Agreement includes a commitment to keep global temperature below 2°C. This will make a safe future. If this is to be achieved, up to 80% of known fossil fuel reserves need to remain in the ground. 

Climate change is real, and it’s happening. Before the Flood is a piece of education that will hopefully encourage people to enact their own further research. And maybe it might stimulate action. Before the Flood can be watched online through many platforms. Text Flood to 52886 to join in helping stop climate change.