“Will you hold the stencil while I spray?” she purred in my direction. Tall. Curvy. She and I shared the same university, and we were carbon-based life forms, but that was about it. To suggest she was out of my dating league would be laughable. I probably shouldn’t have been within a football field’s length of her. She was, as I remember, a goddess.
Hold the stencil! Shoot, I’d invade Canada if she asked.
There must be a sense of urgency to all the climate change evangelists claim, otherwise, calls for massive shifts of public and private capital seem foolhardy upon quick inspection.Around Southern California, we spent a crisp Spring weekend finding drainage gaps along concrete streets and downtown’s asphalt. The stencil was a dolphin with the bordering words, “No Dumping. Drains to the Ocean.” I held that stencil with a focus I hadn’t had my entire college career. Of course, I was a prevaricator in her world, an interloper.
My leanings, even to the present, were downright Randian when it came to the environment. I never succumb to the oceanic feeling of oneness with nature. I much preferred skyscrapers, automobiles, restaurants, art galleries, and punk rock to a hike in the mountains.
She droned on about impending hellish scenes headed our way due to humanity’s indifference and greed. Authoritarian socialism of the most cryptic variety, ogres spanning commissions, and committees were the answer. There simply was no time to debate. She waxed about population control measures. Between hair flips and stretches, oblivious poses, I remember long dissertations about bicycles for some reason.
Command economics, the total State, never looked so good while sounding so awful. Her femme fatale disposition and staccato patois lent to an assuredness of her vision for the future I do not believe I’ve come across since. This was the state of what we now refer to as climate change (then Global Warming) advocates: they were brutally honest about their diagnosis and prognosis. Honest to a fault.
Sure enough, my continual recoil revealed itself during our brief time together. She didn’t really need another reason to be through with me, and we parted amicably. Every so often I come across those little placards and sprayed warnings, and I have to smile.
Present-day climate change evangelists have to tow a slightly more nuanced line, however. There must be a sense of urgency to all they claim, otherwise, calls for massive shifts of public and private capital seem foolhardy upon quick inspection.
The sexiness of so many years ago, albeit inadvertent, to lure my impressionable college-aged self to climate change orthodoxy has been summoned yet again. This time, it’s in the form of a young-ish, rugged actor and his well-positioned pals.
And it had to be an easy sell. Send an A-List celebrity, now a newly minted Academy Award winner, to five continents over a two-year period to examine and document environmental devastation. Give him a production credit, puff him up with a United Nations Messengership, and all that’s really left is funding.
Any project with Leonard DiCaprio attached will be financed, and documentary industry heavies RatPak Entertainment – a mega fund by way of Brett Ratner and Australian billionaire James Packer – backed Before the Flood, which allowed for cinematic production values, the hiring of Academy Award winning writer Mark Monroe, and enough cash to lay the final touch of having aging alternative rocker Trent Reznor score the film. Even American directing legend Martin Scorsese gets a signage credit as an amorphous executive producer.
Though Before the Flood doesn’t particularly add to the climate change argument in any new way, it does seek to update the alarm, working to scare the hair off your grandmother.
It has, of course, been a decade since Al Gore rattled in An Inconvenient Truth (2006) about how humanity is “sitting on a time bomb. If the vast majority of the world’s scientists are right, we have just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet’s climate system into a tailspin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics, and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced – a catastrophe of our own making.” Gore’s documentary was shown in every compulsory public education science course classroom. It won every award imaginable. The man collected a Nobel Prize for Peace attributed to his work. I think it’s clear his views had a healthy hearing.
Ten years on, it does appear Mr. Gore at least overplayed his hand. There’s a real sense, according to Mr. DiCaprio in the opening scenes, the public has given in to malaise, to a kind of catastrophist agnosticism, indifferentism. A revealing online poll, not mentioned in Before the Flood, was conducted by the United Nations in 2015. It surveyed, at last count, something like 10 million people about their major concerns. Of the variety of issues presented, from education to political freedoms, “Action taken on climate change” ranked dead last.
Earnest is something Mr. DiCaprio does very well, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s in various states of facial hair repose as the documentary is being shot during his making of The Revenant (2015), a muscular, bone-crushing movie worthy of your time. Mr. DiCaprio is set not so much as a movie star in Before the Flood but instead is an inquisitive Joe, attempting to understand this complex phenomenon of global climate change – something he never questions, but assumes completely. He sits in the interviewer’s chair well, walks tall with world leaders, and each edit to him reveals an intensity with the subject matter. Part Dorothy, affixed and along very much for the ride, and part Toto, confused and bewildered and at times visibly upset, Mr. DiCaprio is the perfect documentary foil. We believe him. We believe in him.
Mr. DiCaprio is incredulous, disbelieving anyone could be anything less than on fire to stop the great This from happening.Vignette after theatrical vignette, we want to know where Mr. DiCaprio will go next, which exciting cameo will reveal the likes of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Obama, mogul Elon Musk, or Pope Francis. Prior to the carefully spaced out and plotted global leader insertions, Mr. DiCaprio’s history of activism is highlighted, going back to the second Clinton administration.
Filmmakers allude to common skepticism about actors becoming advocates for serious issues, and a quick-running package of Fox News shows and various other Right Wing media voices chorus to razzle Mr. DiCaprio’s attempts. Initially, I believed this to be foreshadowing, as perhaps Mr. DiCaprio would engage those who offer differing opinions on climate change. Instead, the video package criticizing him serves