Leonardo DiCaprio begins Before the Flood explaining a picture that he used to look at as a boy, depicting the beginning, flourishing, and fall of man. When I began watching this documentary, I went into flashbacks of my public school indoctrination, singing songs about global warming in grade school music class, or being given assignments in the sixth grade to draw the future of the earth after industrialization. In each assignment the enemy was more or less the American free market. My mind also shifts to a mural I observed at a public high school in Minnesota that had a painting on the right showing the evils of industrialization, cars, machines, business references, and even a John Kerry yard sign swirling down a drain. The left painting was an environmental community of kids surrounded by windmills and flowers. Hopefully, many more ‘90s children will have their flashbacks and realize that alarmism ideology has indoctrinated them to hate the very economic system that provides everything for their privileged lives. Before the Flood, as expected, is starved of information and hard evidence, but more consistently takes the route of emotional response with the gimmick of a famous actor.
DiCaprio is an environmental Leftist, specifically, in my opinion, of the “Degrowth” movement, which claims that prosperity can be achieved without economic growth, and is intensely tied to the belief of climate change. The actor shows this when he says that his recent movie, The Revenant, takes place in the beginning of the industrial revolution led by European settlers. If a few white settlers building a campsite is too much economic growth for DiCaprio, the Degrowth movement would suit him well. Throughout the rest of the documentary, Leonardo DiCaprio divides the scope into why he believes in man-made global warming, why many others do not believe in it, its effect on other nations, and how it can be prevented.
We learn early in the documentary that the actor derives his global warming theory from the wisest climate scientist in America: Al Gore. The emotional response begins with an old video of young Leonardo engaging in conversation with the former vice president. Gore has been one of the most influential global warming activists and alarmists of the movement. DiCaprio says in the film, “Everything he says is real and is happening.” Back in 2008, Al Gore stated in a speech, “Navy submarines traversing underneath the North Polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will disappear within the summer months.”1 According to the former vice president, who only speaks the truth, the polar ice caps melted three years ago. Al Gore now updates his hysteria to 2040, the new year he claims the ice cap will be melted.
Leonardo DiCaprio makes his own claims in the documentary, saying that American cities, specifically those in Florida, will be destroyed by rising sea levels. Over the past 20 years, the annual average sea level rise has been around 0.13 inches.2 Furthermore, the documentary states that “We don’t have time to debate climate change.” How open minded. As DiCaprio lists the number of US Senators that do not believe in global warming, he specifically tears into climate denier, and “flat-earther”, Senator Marco Rubio. “Marco Rubio doesn’t believe in climate change,” he says. This is, however, contradicted a few seconds later with a video of Rubio saying, “I don’t believe the climate is changing because of human activity.” There is hardly anyone saying that the climate eternally does not change. Another reason that the actor believes in global warming is because he, like many Leftists, believes that 97% of all climate scientists agree on the issue. This is a claim used by almost every global warming activist, including former President Obama, without a source or study ever cited. That is because it is a fabricated lie repeated enough times for it to become truth. The real scientific background for this claim is from a study by John Cook in Australia in Cook et al. at the University of Queensland.3 The research to create this percentage found that only 64 papers out of 11,958 written by climate scientists state that man-made greenhouse gases caused more than 50% of recent warming.4 Cook’s study did not differentiate between essays that stated that climate change was man-made and ones that didn’t. Rather, it compiled all essays that even mentioned that the climate is changing. With the statistics and the research broken down to the essays written by scientists that believe climate change is mainly caused by man-made greenhouse gases, a “consensus” of only 0.54% agree.5 When the statement is manipulated in terms of scientists that agree that the climate is changing over time, it is fairly accurate. Do 97% of all scientists believe in man-made global warming? Not even close.
DiCaprio then leads viewers to the notion that people who don’t believe in his theory (“flat-earthers” like Marco Rubio and myself) are all sold out to big oil corporations like Exxon and Koch Industries. He furthermore attacks a free market advocating group that receives funding from the Koch brothers, called Americans for Prosperity. He makes AFP out to be characterized as a marionette for Koch Industries, made to represent their personal interests. In the last three months I have worked for this activist group, and I have become familiar with the issues they have fought for. On a list of about twenty-five of their biggest issues maybe two had anything slightly to do with oil or carbon emissions. Most were simple, public interest issues related to keeping government out of the way. According to the rich actor though, all the families supporting our causes, and my nineteen-year old self are just sold out to Exxon for wanting lower taxes. I was really unaware. It is also never mentioned that the Kochs have donated over $200 million to cancer research and continue to do so.6 It was a good try, but Leonardo DiCaprio knows nothing about Americans for Prosperity or Koch Industries.
Leonardo DiCaprio then creates a large portion of the documentary covering the effects of climate change on other countries. He travels to India, where he documents his conversation with a local woman about the issue of burning fossil fuels. He is curious to ask about the possibility of a transition in India to fund wind and solar companies. In response the woman asks, “Who will invest?” The woman is exactly right. Nobody will spend their money on a more expensive form of energy when coal is abundant and cheap to the individual. Leonardo DiCaprio, at this point in the conversation, does not seem to understand this woman’s position, as she is a working citizen who understands supply and demand. The poor communities in India are deprived of energy in their homes and have a lifeline of abundant coal, as the woman explains. DiCaprio, and other climatarians are advocating for government mandates to raise the prices of their only energy sources “in the best interest of the citizens.” This might sound fine for the American upper class activists, but not so much for the communities in poverty that depend on cheap energy.
This entire segment of the documentary shows how Leonardo DiCaprio does not understand the malleability of Capitalism. He says that they need to “Help the world before it is too late.” ‘They’ meaning monster government, according to the statists know the interest of the people better than the individuals themselves. According to the natural laws of the free market, when abundance of a source diminishes the demand will shift to other means and human creativity will yield alternative sources. In many countries like India, there is absolutely no demand for wind and solar energy because fossil fuels are inexpensive and far from gone, and government force meant to shift human interest will cause devastation. An explanation from Frederick Hayek is given in The Road to Serfdom, “The state should confine itself to establishing rules applying to general types of situations and allow the individuals freedom in everything which depends on the circumstances of the time and place, because only the individuals concerned in each instance can fully know these circumstances and adapt their actions to them.”7 He further makes the final point, “Hence, the familiar fact that the more the state ‘plans’, the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”8 Here is a quick story about a climate changing catastrophe that was left to the free-market alone, “Russian farmers farmed northern Siberia for centuries. When the area became cold and desolate, the farmers moved south.”9
In conclusion, within the entire documentary there was not a single argument that I have not heard before. No new research, no new data, no new claims, etc. It was simply ten times more hypocritical because it was put forward by a rich, privileged actor, not even an average working citizen on our level. It’s easy for someone with an extraordinary amount of power to disregard the free market to spread an easy idea. Don’t be persuaded.
- Revkin, Andrew C. “The (Annotated) Gore Energy Speech.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 July 2008. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
- Society, National Geographic. “Sea Level Rise — National Geographic.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
- “Quantifying the Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming in the Scientific Literature.” IOP Science. N.p., n.d. Web. http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024/pdf 10 Dec. 2016.
- Michelle. 97% Consensus? No! Global Warming Math Myths & Social Proofs. (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
- Cooper, Michael. “Cancer Research Before Activism, Billionaire Conservative Donor Says.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 04 Mar. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
- F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom:Text and Documents—The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Vol. 2),Bruce Caldwell, ed. (New York:Routledge, 2014), p. 114.
- Stossel, John. Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get out the Shovel– Why Everything You Know Is Wrong. New York: Hyperion, 2006. 205. Print.