Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: Before the Flood

It’s been just over 3 years since I first saw Before the Flood during it’s debut on the National Geographic Channel. There have been requests for me to start reviewing relevant TV shows and documentaries again so this is my attempt to help revive #SteveReviews. For those of you that haven’t seen or heard of Before the Flood, it follows Leonard DiCaprio as he visits various regions of the globe in an attempt to explore the impact of global warming. DiCaprio’s inquiries focus quite heavily on climate change denial and what impact that has for everyone else, you probably won’t be surprised to know that most of this occurs among lobbyists and politicians in the United States. If you haven’t seen Before the Flood – it is readily available on Netflix.

The film follows DiCaprio as he investigates climate change following his appointment as the UN Climate Change Envoy. As a Hollywood movie star and all round genuine human, DiCaprio is a highly effective narrator and audience surrogate asking all the right questions when faced with scientists and politician. It is very reassuring to see that DiCaprio has a similar level-headed approach to asking questions that a majority of the viewers would also have, as well as asking the right things. It is clear that he isn’t an expert and he makes this obvious but he is happy to acknowledge his own carbon footprint and do what needs to be done to become informed on the matter.

One of my favourite parts in the film is when DiCaprio visits India and has his own Western-centric views challenged. Many Indians still cook with cow dung or coal as it is a cheap commodity born out of necessity. DiCaprio meets activist Sunita Narain who shows him the issues that India poses with it’s growing population. It may not be ethical to use coal but with no other option, what other option do the people of India have? This is especially hard-hitting given the fact that nations like the US are putting pressure on those like India to risk it’s own economic development in order to help save the environment, when the US (and other nations) are hesitant to adopt them. Just look at things here in the UK, the ‘climate emergency’ the government declared was mostly lip-service. Where are the actions needed to prevent the climate crisis?

To many climate change deniers, it’s something that if it exists will affect people in the very distant future. Before the Flood grabs the bull by the horns on this issue and helps to highlight current victims of climate change. This is in the form of polar bears in the Artic and shrinking sea ice but also those most vulnerable to sea level rises such as island nations. These are striking examples that people can’t ignore – by using them if you were a denier going in you almost certainly aren’t now.

Let me know what your thoughts of the film are and what you’d like me to review next.


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