Thursday, November 17, 2016

During the Flood

Before the Flood is the documentary on climate change created by Leonardo DiCaprio and associates.  It was available free for several weeks, and still may be but it might require a search on YouTube or some process on the National Geographic Channel site.

I've posted here a few minutes that occur near the end of the film.  Its DiCaprio's short speech at the UN signing ceremony for the Paris agreement, intercut with images from earlier in the film.  I watched the complete film in sections, because these early parts were so devastating.  It's one thing to read about or even imagine the devastation that we, through our corporate servants and masters, are wreaking on this planet, but it's quite another to see it.

The clear-cutting of vast Canadian and Indonesian forests is bad enough.  But this segment posted here doesn't refer back to what hit me the hardest: the contrast between the ocean's underwater world--filled with the colorful life of countless fish and other species--and the vast dark empty grave when coral reefs die.  And they are dying all around the world, due directly to global heating.

Everywhere color and life is turned into gray death, either by industrial processes (tar sand oil extraction, perverse industrial agriculture) or by the deadly effects of climate change itself.

Later in the film, there are voices of hope if not optimism:  Elon Musk on alternative energy's future, a dying NASA scientist, President Obama talking about Paris and the path to the future. This docu was released shortly before the election, but DiCaprio asks the President if his successor is a denialist, could he unravel the progress made?  President Obama gives the same answer as in his press conference, that the reality will be powerful, and if it is ignored, public outcry will come.  He then outlines the immediate danger in national security terms.

DiCaprio begins and ends this film with the Hieronymus Bosch triptych "The Garden of Earthly Delights," a poster of which hung above his bed as a child, thanks to his counterculture parents (it was a widespread poster in the late 60s and early 70s as I recall.)

He notes that the apocalyptic vision of the third panel is where we are rapidly heading, and by the end of the film, the lurid dark portrait of destruction simply refers back to scenes we've seen already.  So the documentary has an artistic shape as well as well-organized and visually compelling content.

I've long advocated (mostly by muttering into the wind) that celebrity voices could help generate emotional consensus on the climate crisis, and DiCaprio has done his best.  The risks he's taken are part of the film, as in the clips of rabid right commentators making fun of him.  But his final statement at the UN states the situation as well as anyone has: "Massive change is required right now, ...that leads to a new collective consciousness, a new collective evolution of the human race, inspired and enabled by a sense of urgency."     

  If you look this up on YouTube you may find some crazy responses from both the right and left. It looks like an impossible job still, but all we can do is our best. This may be hard to watch, even as beautiful as it is. That's in part what makes it hard to watch. But it's worth watching.
If your taste is for more talk, there's a related video discussion involving DiCaprio, President Obama and a very articulate climate expert Catherine [didn't catch her last name](who works in Texas now but clearly she's from Canada.)  This is a fine discussion which includes very direct explanations of related climate change phenomena.

No comments: