By Kelly Gilbert
On Oct. 25, Sacred Heard University’s Jack Welch College of Business presented an early showing of environmental documentary, “Before the Flood.” Produced and directed by Fisher Stevens, the documentary took viewers alongside actor and activist, Leonardo DiCaprio on a three-year journey to five continents he journeyed to.
Traveling across the globe, he spoke with scientists, government officials and world leaders like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Pope Francis, seeking a deeper understanding of climate change, and its affect on the world.
Dr. Enda McGovern of the marketing and sports management departments was one of the driving forces behind bringing this documentary to the university. When he learned that it became available to universities days earlier than the public release on Oct. 30, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I was very keen on getting this message into the student mindset because I’m concerned about the general lack of interest amongst students concerning climate change,” said McGovern. “This is a silent storm. And when this storm raises its head there is no science that will push it back.”
With about 150 students and faculty gathered in the Edgerton for the showing, “Before the Flood” opened with a powerful statement from DiCaprio’s 2016 United Nations speech.
“As an actor, I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in that same way, as if it were fiction,” said DiCaprio.
The documentary claimed that the government officials who don’t acknowledge climate change are fueled by greed. Specifically, they have been paid off by powerful oil and fossil fuel companies, such as palm oil and the Koch brothers, to deny that global warming is a real issue, in order to maintain the financial success of their businesses.
“It makes me sick to my stomach that politicians are being paid by companies to manipulate the public and tell them that global warming isn’t real,” said senior Alicia Torres. “Without the agreement of politicians on the matter, what’s our future going to be like? How are our future children going to survive? What’s going to be left?”
DiCaprio and his team demonstrated how these small changes are quickly adding up to a larger problem.
Issues such as rising sea levels, melting glaciers in the arctic, the depletion of coral reefs and carbon and methane emissions in the atmosphere being at an all time high, each of these factors have proven that if mankind doesn’t lessen its carbon footprint now, global warming could possibly lead to disastrous circumstances in the next couple of decades, according to the documentary.
“I don’t think people realize the severity of climate change, because of how gradual it is,” said Assistant Chair of Biology, Dr. Kirk Bartholomew. “We don’t have the ability to tie one specific event to climate change. It’s gradual, subtle changes, but they’re cumulative. This is real and it is going to have real effects.”
As the documentary came to a close, it emphasized how the possibility of decreasing or reversing the large carbon footprint mankind has already planted all depends on how much humans are willing to change.
DiCaprio showed viewers that efforts are being made to protect the globe. Companies like Tesla are constructing batteries with clean and efficient means of retrieving energy, massive countries like China are transitioning to energy efficient factories and buildings and Denmark and Germany are investing in wind and solar energy.
“There is some hope that we can stop this, and the earth can actually re-stabilize, we just have to actually do something,” said senior Alicia Torres. “I think it’s up to our generation.”