Nine years ago I saw a documentary called The 11th Hour, co-written and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. It put him on the map as an actor with a real commitment to the environment, and he has continued to use his influence to raise awareness of climate change and wilderness conservation. Several documentaries have followed, including the much talked-about Cowspiracy last year.
The latest, Before the Flood, was shown worldwide by the National Geographic channel this week, and has been made available online free of charge. While we’re still dragging our feet on climate change, a lot has changed since The 11th Hour. More real world evidence has emerged, and the issue is more urgent. The film visits small islands being evacuated, dying coral reefs, and interviews the mayor of Miami – a man desperately trying to shore up his flooding city while his own state governor denies the reality of climate change. It’s hard to argue with it, though the film has plenty of clips of people who do.
Another thing that’s changed is that Sr DiCaprio is more famous than he was, so he can get the pope and the president in his movie. But they don’t get any more screen time than scientists and local campaigners in developing countries, which is good to see.
Fortunately, the solutions are emerging too, and political action has taken a step forward too after the Paris agreement. But it’s all so slow, and the issue is still invisible to most people in their lifestyle choices. And in that sense, it feels like we haven’t come nearly far enough. And so there’s still the need for awareness raising documentaries like this one. See what you make of it.