“Before the Flood:” An appeal to consumers to halt climate change

(DiCaprio’s new documentary is being shown for free at schools nationwide. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

FSU’s environmental club, The Green Team, hosted a screening of National Geographic’s documentary “Before the Flood” on Monday, Oct. 31  in the McCarthy Center Forum.

Green Team President senior Paolo Bon Tempo welcomed about fifty students, faculty and guests to the film, which had a small release in theaters in New York and Los Angeles during the week of Oct. 21, before being released to select universities to be viewed by the public free of charge.

The film, directed by Fisher Stevens, follows Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio as he fills the shoes of his new role as a United Nations  representative on climate change.

DiCaprio co-produced the film and drew its title from a painting from Dutch Renaissance artist Heironymus Bosch’s triptych, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” wherein humankind meets judgment for abusing God’s creation.

DiCaprio, who is both the lead and narrator of the film, begins the documentary with a series of visits to various industrial sites and communities around the world severely affected by climate change.

DiCaprio interviewed UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon at the UN, U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and Pope Francis at the Vatican. Other world leaders, politicians and industrialists were interviewed.

DiCaprio implores each of them to consider how best to use their influence to combat global climate change. Also shown were meetings with environmentalist and former Vice President Al Gore and entrepreneur Elon Musk of SolarCity and Tesla Motors.

After the film, the audience was encouraged to participate in a formal discussion moderated by Bon Tempo. The upcoming election stirred several to remark upon the perceived lethargy of American politicians in creating effective policy to combat climate change.

“Everything is determined by how we vote,” said sophomore Zach LeBlanc. “Unless we vote, the only thing [politicians] will hear is the dollar signs from the oil companies.”

Bon Tempo expressed a lack of faith in the current state of environmental politics, stating “both parties are taking money and denying the issue.”

Professor Vandana Singh, chair of  physics and earth science and coordinator of FSU’s Environmental Forum, compared the protests of the civil rights era to modern environmental social movements.

“Climate change is a social justice issue,” said Singh. “It disproportionately affects those who have done the least to change it.”

She added “Social movements do, in fact, have a role to play.” She highlighted how each person can contribute.“It was not just people protesting in the streets. They later went to their homes, churches, workplaces and elected leaders.”

Sophomore Nicole Bray said, “I feel like the biggest issue is that people aren’t educated.”

Singh encouraged FSU students to ask for more of the same education Bray felt many were lacking. “One thing you can do is ask your professors to talk about climate change,” said Singh.

Bon Tempo closed by saying, “I think it is a mistake for us to look at any one fix. There have to be all sorts of changes in all sorts of ways. … Culture change starts locally.”

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