How ‘Before the Flood’ Tackles Climate Change

In the documentary Leonardo diCaprio aims to educate viewers and inspire action.
Promoted byPromoted by National Geographic Channel
Oct 30, 2016·
Kelly Bryant is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer covering fashion, pop culture, and parenting for a variety of national publications.

There are three sides to the debate on climate change: those who are working diligently to do something about it, those who want you to think it’s malarkey, and those who don’t know enough about the subject to form a solid opinion. In the documentary Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio aims to educate viewers about the ominous circumstances that carry global impacts and to lead the charge for change.

“Climate change is the most fundamental threat facing our planet,” says DiCaprio. “We must work together as a collective voice to demand major action now. Our very survival depends on it. This documentary translates the symptoms and solutions of climate change before information is distorted, as it often is, by those with a financial interest in fossil fuel production.”

In the 96-minute documentary, DiCaprio takes the viewer on a journey filled with sweeping cinematic images of our world. He interviews President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, among other leaders, as well as scientists, conservationists, and environmental activists.

The Environmental Protection Agency states that changing the average global temperature by just one degree can result in major consequences, such as reduced crop yields, increased flooding risk, and decreased stream flow in river basins such as the Rio Grande. Additionally, there would be a 200 to 400 percent increase in area burned by wildfire in the western portion of the United States—a sobering statistic.

The numbers don’t lie. According to the National Wildlife Federation, the preindustrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million. NASA’s latest measurement of carbon dioxide (as of September 2016) was 404.42 parts per million. The U.S. is the second-largest contributor to C02, even though we make up just 4.4 percent of the global population.

When it premieres on the National Geographic Channel tonight at 9 p.m. ET, Before the Flood will serve as a call to action for how we, as Earth’s inhabitants, can prevent the end of ecosystems, endangered species, and native communities. The filmmakers visited the Great Canadian Oil Sands, the Arctic Circle, China, India, and closer to home, Miami, where a $400 million infrastructure project is in place to contain rising ocean waters.

“If you could know the truth about how much damage we’ve done to our planet and how much time we have to find solutions before this whole ecosystem collapses, would you want to know?” asks producer Fisher Stevens in the film. “We can no longer turn a blind eye to this issue and hope that it resolves itself. My hope is that this film provides a wake-up call about our inevitable fate should we fail to act. And on the eve of what could be the most important election of our time, I hope this film not only educates the public on the serious threat we face but also forces voters to really think about how important their vote is this fall.”