November 17, 2016 \ Geoff Birmingham
Before the Flood

before-the-flood-film-socialIt’s hard to know what the filmmakers’ intent was in making Before the Flood, a documentary about climate change. For those of us who already believe scientists’ claims of climate change, we don’t really need to see the rising waters in India or shrinking glaciers in Greenland to be convinced.

For those who believe that 97% of climatologists are engaged in a grand conspiracy and that climate change is a hoax, they aren’t going to watch this film. And having a member of the Hollywood elite, Leonardo DiCaprio, in the role of environmental crusader is definitely not going to persuade them.

But if, as a “believer,” you watch the film and can look past cable-TV scare tactics (plenty shots of storms, chaos and destruction) and DiCaprio’s banal exclamations (“That’s unbelievable!” “That’s amazing!” “Oh my God!”), there are a few points worth reflecting on:

·      Climate change is going to disproportionally affect the poor

·      A carbon tax makes a lot of sense

·      Eating less beef is a small thing we can do to affect change

·      It is possible to go fossil-free (Sweden)

·      Vote

Perhaps if a few more of us believers had bothered going to the polls last week, prospects for change right now wouldn’t have so quickly shifted from dismal to dire.

It was only appropriate, actually, that I watched Before the Flood while waiting for the returns on the presidential election. The film ends with Leo describing his fascination as a little boy with The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch – a triptych showing Man’s progression from innocence in the Garden of Eden to his suffering and torture in Hell.

He warns, “We are on the cusp of entering Bosch’s Hell.” Based on the results of that evening: amazing powers of prognostication or just crazy coincidence?