Oscar winning actor and UN messenger of peace Leonardo DiCaprio has released his new documentary ‘Before the Flood’. The Nat Geo film goes to great depths to try and show you the affects climate change has had on the planet. It is, of course, a documentary about man-made climate change and demonises those who are self professed climate change deniers. Taking away the bias, the documentary itself is powerful, beautifully shot, and actually quite perfect.
The subject of man-made climate change isn’t actually that controversial in the United Kingdom. The majority believe it’s real and even using the word ‘believe’ would seem odd in the UK as most see it as scientific fact. That can also be said for the Scandinavian countries, Germany, and the majority of western Europe. However, in the States it is a different matter all together. The topic of man-made climate change divides America as much as firearms, abortion, free health care, and gay marriage.
Naturally it is the Republicans who oppose the existence of man-made climate change. Why? To put it as simply as possible: money. The big fossil fuel companies such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP, and Koch Industries are heavy donors to Republican politicians. In the case of Koch Industries, it’s been rumoured that the Koch brothers have donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign… As well as donating to certain politicians, the fossil fuel industry also pays a huge amount to the media through advertising. Neither the politicians nor the media wants to begin a war against the fossil fuel companies as they'll collectively lose billions of dollars. This setup of money in politics and connections with the media isn't just in existence for the fossil fuel industry, either. It’s the same for the big banks, the pharmaceuticals, and pretty much every large organisation in America today.
It’s said that 97 per cent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is real. What we have then is a huge disconnect between the experts and the people who should be listening to the experts. That three per cent of climate scientists who disagree, suggest that the earth’s climate fluctuates over time and the parallel that we’re currently seeing between the earth’s temperature and global emissions is a coincidence. Whether you believe the 97 per cent or the three per cent, there are other issues that need to be addressed that will in turn halt any man-made climate change, if it is indeed real.
We are quickly running out of fossil fuels. Our reserves won’t last forever and we’re going to have to source alternatives. This is fact. Fossil fuels take millions of years to create. We don’t have millions of years. Experts say we might have 50 at the most. Our cars will have to become electric or we’ll have to invest in the production of hydrogen fuel. If we choose electric, that electricity will have to be produced by a renewables or an alternative such as nuclear. There’s a lot of money in renewables. There’s a lot of jobs too. Wind turbines need to be constructed to replace natural gas and coal power plants. Our houses will have to be fitted with solar panels. There’s also the use of the ocean with wave/tidal power.
Making this transition from fossil fuels to renewables and alternatives will have to be done regardless of man-made climate change. The same should be said for deforestation but unfortunately it’s not an ultimate. To use a climate change cliché, ‘the forests are the planet’s lungs’. We need plants to survive. It’s as simple as that. The mass deforestation currently happening in places such as Brazil, Madagascar, and Indonesia is destroying the planet. Not only because the trees won’t take in the enormous amount of CO2 that we’re producing but also because we need them to produce oxygen. Not to mention the destroying of habitats of endangered species and ancient tribes.
If man-made climate change is as real as the experts say, deforestation is speeding up the process. Halting deforestation and even reversing it will be immensely beneficial to helping the human population survive, protecting wildlife, and tackling climate change. The process of deforestation is done for numerous reason: the production of paper, the cultivation of palm oil, and most detrimentally the keeping of livestock. Cattle, as we know, produce methane - a gas said to be contributing to global warming. Not only are we cutting down trees for land for the cattle and land for the feed for the cattle, but we’re also withdrawing the natural apparatus that would counteract the methane production. All of the deforestation aside, the amount of water needed to produce beef is incredible. It’s hard to pretend that California doesn't go through immense droughts when we look at how much water is used to produce one hamburger. I’m not suggesting that we all turn vegetarian or even vegan but simply cutting down the amount of beef we eat by switching to chicken once in a while would be beneficial.
What we have then are global issues that need to tackled anyway. Surely doing things to prevent something that might kill us all, even if you don’t believe it, is the way to go. You might not believe that man is destroying the planet but there are those who do. Even if it’s not real, it’s surely correct to make certain just in case it is. You don't have to be a hippy to realise that we are running out of fossil fuels anyway. You don’t have to be a hippy to realise we need trees to breathe. Converting the world to renewables and alternatives will take time and it’s about time we started properly. And hey, if man-made climate change is real, we might just save the planet along the way.