Before the Flood essentially gives a Hollywood update to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. Created over a three-year period that included DiCaprio’s Oscar-winning turn in The Revenant, it follows the actor around the world as he explores the issue of climate change first-hand and through conversation with scientists and President Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and Pope Francis, among others. Personal and provocative, the documentary seeks to answer the questions DiCaprio posed in his 2015 Wired interview:
We’ve seen such a tremendous lack of leadership, and we’ve allowed these trillion-dollar industries to manipulate the argument about the science for too long. This year is a massive tipping point in the climate struggle. As I said, it’s the hottest year in recorded history. July was the hottest month in recorded history. We’re seeing methane bubbling up from underneath the seafloor. There are massive heat waves, drought, fires going on; ocean acidification is happening on a massive scale. It’s scary. I went to Greenland and there are rivers flowing like it’s the middle of the Grand Canyon. The question is, what do we do to mitigate that? Are we going to come together as a world community? Are we going to evolve as a species and actually combat this issue? The human race has never done anything like that in the history of civilization.
Before the Flood received its U.S. premiere at the White House’s interactive event, South By South Lawn, where DiCaprio interviewed Obama and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. The film also boasts a soundtrack by Trent Reznor.
You have to appreciate the effort of putting the film online, especially before the election. But while the first step in changing the direction of climate change may be engaging in conversation, you have to wonder why National Geographic left YouTube comments enabled for the film.
Any sense of social progress you might feel after watching Before the Flood will be swiftly obliterated by a scroll through the comments section. Climate change deniers and trolls—the distinction between the two is blurred at best—have completely taken over the comments.