Leonardo DiCaprio Tackles Climate Change with 'Before the Flood'

Leonardo DiCaprio Tackles Climate Change with 'Before the Flood'

The actor and philanthropist asks the hard-hitting questions with his new documentary—just in time for the upcoming election.

The actor and philanthropist asks the hard-hitting questions with his new documentary—just in time for the upcoming election.

Text: Mariana Fernandez

“When you try to have a conversation with anyone about climate change, people just tune out,” says Leonardo DiCaprio in his new documentary, Before the Flood. “And the problem seems to be getting worse and worse and worse.”

Together with Academy Award-winning director Fisher Stevens, The Revenant star and United Nations Messenger of Peace brings the public a new eco-documentary about climate change set to air on National Geographic channels October 30, just a week before the U.S. Presidential and Senate elections.

The film was screened at the White House yesterday as part of an effort to engage the country’s leaders in a discussion about what DiCaprio called “the most important issue of our time.” In a panel with President Obama and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, the director of Texas Tech University’s Climate Science Center, DiCaprio stated his hopes for the film to influence next month’s elections. "If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts or science or empirical truths, and in my opinion you should not be allowed to hold public office,” he said.

The film’s screening also coincides with Obama’s last months in office, which he is using to expand his environmental legacy. He has recently given “marine national monument” protection to an area off the New England coast and created the largest ecologically protected area in a Hawaiian reserve. But climate change-related progress is not as simple. Obama stated his frustration with it at the panel, claiming that while “better is good,” “better is not going to save the planet.” The President, for who climate change is as much a national security issue as it is an environmental one, also suggested the imposition of a carbon tax and for fossil fuels to be extracted through fracking.

Produced independently and later acquired by National Geographic, Before the Flood is framed around Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, mapping mankind’s impact on the planet beginning with innocence and ending with decay. In it, DiCaprio travels to China’s most industrial regions, the Pacific Islands, Greenland, Sumatra, and more, to document the effects of carbon emissions and what can be done to stop them. One passage of the documentary was filmed when The Revenant director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, was forced to move production from Canada to Argentina due to lack of snow.

The film also features appearances by Barack Obama, Ban Ki-Moon, Pope Francis, and John Kerry, as well as a soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

“Paradise has been degraded and destroyed, we’re knowingly doing this,” DiCaprio says in the film’s trailer. “I just want to know how far we’ve gone and if there’s anything we can do to stop it.”

As of today, 61 countries have adopted the Paris Agreement, including the U.S. and China. “And Donald Trump has said he’s going to try to kill the Paris accords if elected,” Stevens points out.

Watch the film's trailer below before it hits theaters October 21.

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