Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest project, “Before the Flood”, is a National Geographic documentary that sounds a desperate alarm about climate change and the many depredations that humans have visited upon the planet. The Oscar-winning actor guides viewers through bleak tar sands operations in Canada, mingles with Indonesian elephants, and laments Greenland’s melting ice fields. But the 95-minute-long film, directed by Fisher Stevens, aspires to be more than just a depressing nature flick.
97 percent of climate scientists agree that the globe is warming, and that the change in climate over the past 50 years has been man-made. However, an ambitious and effective global response has yet to be mounted, which is in itself a key part of the problem. DiCaprio interviews one leading scientist, Michael E. Mann, who received death threats and was reviled in prominent media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal for his climate research. The actor also speaks with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry about government efforts to address the issue of man-made global warming. His many conversations with government officials, scientists, and environmental activists make it clear that there are systemic obstacles– from corporate interests to political dysfunction to media campaigns spreading disinformation and global warming skepticism– to mounting effective efforts to stem the encroaching tide.
In many ways, “Before the Flood” is the spiritual successor to “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore’s award-winning documentary from way back in 2006, albeit with an A-list star and a global itinerary. But DiCaprio also tries to offer a measure of hope in 2016, detailing concrete actions individuals can take to combat global warming, such as eating less beef, eschewing palm oil and products that use them, and electing the right politicians.
“Before the Flood” has largely been well received (it has a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes currently). Critics have praised DiCaprio for his earnest, sober, and rigorous attempt to understand the problem and make a compelling case for action. Watch the full-length documentary below.