Before the Flood: A New Documentary on Climate Change

According to the Guardian “2017 is so far the second-hottest year on record thanks to Global Warming’.
The year 2017 seems to also building up a ‘hot’ record on documentaries on Climate Change. In September we had the world premieres of the new documentary ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ with Al Gore, and this month, we have the release of the new National Geographic documentary with Leonardo Di Caprio ‘Before the Flood’.
The documentary depicts a concerned and committed Di Caprio travelling around the world seeing firsthand the impacts of climate change, talking to scientists and public officials, visiting world leaders, such as President Obama and Pope Francis, to discuss the issue, and finally addressing the UN as UN messenger for Peace for Climate Change.
We saw a similar out pour of Climate Change documentaries about a decade ago, when Al Gore’s first documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ came out, followed by ‘The 11th Hour’ with Leonardo Di Caprio and ‘The Age of Stupid’ with Pete Postlethwaite (see links to the documentaries below).
Did all this extraordinary work by leading figures and crowdfunding initiatives, help make a difference? It is hard to tell, but one thing for sure, the world is realizing that extreme weather phenomena occur more often and are more intense and are related and caused by Climate Change. The world also start taking notice that these extreme weather events are devastating, are affecting more and more people, their livelihood and property, and they are costing the local and world economies serious money. Recent hurricanes Harvey (Texas) and Irma (Florida) had an estimated cost of more than $150 billion.
The Paris Agreement in 2016 was a major breakthrough of pressure and awareness growing among civil society, the economy, politicians and governments. Yet, the signs of optimism don’t seem to be enough. In ‘Before the Flood’ Di Caprio declares that due to the troubling signs that he saw first-hand and what he heard from leading scientists, he feels very pessimistic. The problem is big and is getting bigger with no significant signs to avert it from is catastrophic path. Quite the contrary: the newly elected President Trump pulled the United States – the second largest global polluter – out of the Paris Agreement.
What do we learn from Climate Change documentaries?
First, we realize that we have to put our minds to the issue, and learn more about it. We have to understand what is going on on our planet, how our lifestyle affects Climate Change and re-evaluate our choices. For example, driving energy hungry cars, living in oversize energy hungry homes, air traveling without considering carbon emissions, and eating meat and imported food, among others.
Second, we learn that we have to pay attention.
Pay attention to what we eat and drink. When we eat junk food, we support the destruction of rain forests in Indonesia by the palm oil industry – and thus destroy fragile eco-systems in danger of extinction and reduce natural carbon absorption. Also, meat requires more land and produces more methane than any other food. Growing cattle is one of the reasons forests are cut down and turned into grazing land with devastating results – including desertification. When consuming fizzy drinks we support the destruction of crops in India, destroying the livelihood of local farmers, because their water resources are exploited by foreign corporations to produce these drinks.
Pay attention to how we consume energy. When we use air-condition at office or home, instead of opening a window to regulate room temperature, we should adjust the thermostat. We waste precious energy in the process, we contribute to the heat island effect in our cities and streets, and force more people to use their air-condition due to rising temperatures. Also, when we use our car instead of walking or using public transportation, we raise demand for fuel from companies that corrupt governments, over-explore – and destroy eco-systems, or rage wars to control oil resources.
Pay attention to household waste. Even though plastic bottle cages and paper containers are at almost every corner, we don’t separate our waste. Thus, we increase land and water contamination, cutting down of more trees to produce paper, more dependence on fossil fuels to produce plastics, more waste and pollution from plastics production, potentially increasing the plastic ocean landfills, destroying ecosystems, and polluting water and food resources. Not to mention the strain on communities living near our waste landfill and the danger of plastics entering our food chain.
Pay attention to water consumption. We may like taking longer showers at home, hotel or public facility. But, even in Israel this year we read in the news that natural water sources are drying up due to severe drought and over consumption, and the government is considering severe cuts in water consumption by municipalities and farmers. Soon, I am afraid, we will also be asked to reduce our water use at home.
Third, we learn to take responsibility. We can point our fingers to corrupt or irresponsible politicians, or blame big corporations for the problem, but it is not enough. Each one of us has to take responsibility - at home, at work and at leisure, and raise awareness to everyone around us. We can adjust the way we live, what we eat, what we buy and we can make different choices as to who we vote in office to represent us in government. If this is not enough we can get involved in speaking out ourselves. The more voices heard more public pressure is built, more action is taken and so we contribute to the faster solution to the problem.
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