Until Nov. 6 this fascinating documentary can be screened free on
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/ and other outlets.
Rated PG. Running time:1 hour 35 min.
“Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Leonardo DiCaprio is another entertainment celebrity who has taken up a serious cause that he promotes as ardently as his acting career. Ten years earlier he had spent time with Al Gore, becoming convinced with him that global warming was the major problem facing humanity. The flood of the title would be almost as great as the Biblical one of Noah’s unless drastic action were taken. This two year-in-the-making film is the result of that conviction. It boasts a who’s who in the environmental movement, science, politics, and even in religion, including Pope Francis, the first pontiff ever to issue an encyclical on the topic. With zeal and the financial resources required to make a film, DiCaprio and director Fisher Stevens have come up with the best film on the subject since An Inconvenient Truth.
As a student of art, I like the framing device of Hieronymus Bosch’s apocalyptic triptych “Garden of Earthly Delights,” the painting’s gruesome images of Hell and its punishments serving as a warning of what we might expect if we do not change our ways. As a United Nations Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio was able to gain access to people all over the world, including interviews with President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Kerry, U.N. Secretary-General Ki-Moon, Pope Francis, top NASA researchers, forest conservationists, environmental scientists, community leaders, and activists who have been working for decades to save the planet. He travels above the earth and below the sea, the latter to observe the terrible devastation to coral reefs brought on by the warming of the oceans. In Greenland, he graphically shows that the ice covering the land has melted by over 30 feet. From space, he shows the areas of earth which already growing hotter with each passing year.
Some will not like the film’s political agenda, and yet how could this not be brought up, given that so many politicians of a certain party continue to deny the reality of climate change? During DiCaprio’s interview with the Mayor of Miami, the official shows the expensive projects his city is undertaking to add power water pumps and to raise the level of roads before the city is flooded year-round—and he points out that Florida’s governor will allocate no funds for such projects. Al Gore’s Oscar winning documentary was basically a Power Point presentation. This new documentary takes us to the places where people are already being affected—the low lands of Pacific island nations, the blackened skies of Beijing, and more.
The film is perhaps weakest in offering solutions, the main one being to vote out politicians owned by the coal and oil industries who fund the scientists denying the phenomenon. This will make possible the levying of a carbon tax so that polluters will be paying the real cost of their industries. Another expert says that by switching to chicken from beef we can reduce the harmful emissions from the millions of cattle, the latter polluting the air ten times more than chickens. Other than Pope Francis, the film does not take much of a religious tack. For people of faith, preserving the planet is a religious act, growing out of the Genesis of God creating the earth and then entrusting its care into the hands of humans. This film is a good tool for becoming informed and spreading the message.