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If Leonardo DiCaprio's Climate Doc Doesn't Make You Care About The Planet, Nothing Will

"Before The Flood" will be released for free because the filmmakers warn it's urgent that we all see it.

25/10/2016 3:01 PM IST | Updated 31/10/2016 4:23 PM IST
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You can watch the entire documentary for free, until Nov. 6, above.

Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t terribly optimistic throughout most of his new project, the climate change documentary “Before The Flood.”

“I just want to know how far we’ve gone,” the actor says in the film. “How much damage we’ve done. And if there’s anything we can do to stop it.”

He travels to some of the regions where climate change has hit hardest: Greenland’s melting ice, the rising seas consuming Kiribati and the world’s dying coral reefs.

DiCaprio paints a dire picture: The world is burning, liquifying and warming faster than anyone expected, and far more quickly than anything humanity can adapt to.

The doc is the culmination of a three-year undertaking for DiCaprio and director Fisher Stevens. It will be released on Sunday.

The film will stream everywhere for free for a week following its release because of the urgent subject matter, National Geographic announced Monday. DiCaprio said he hoped the move would “make sure as many people as possible see this film.” 

It is perhaps one of the most hyped climate documentaries since former Vice President Al Gore’s groundbreaking “An Inconvenient Truth.” The film features appearances from President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, inventor and businessman Elon Musk and Pope Francis, along with many of the the world’s leading climate researchers.

This time, however, the science is far more real.

DiCaprio visits a melting Greenland, so affected by the warming planet that it, in turn, has begun to accelerate the phenomenon through a bellwether-esque feedback loop. Vast reserves of disappearing ice have pushed seas higher, forcing some low-lying island nations to seek refuge elsewhere. Meanwhile, massive rainforests in the Amazon and throughout Indonesia have been leveled for crop and cattle production, pumping huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

I feel like I’m in some weird, surreal movie. Leonardo DiCaprio

“We’re pushing this system really hard,” marine ecologist Jeremy Jackson says at one point. A seemingly endless stretch of dead coral reef surrounds him.

“I feel like I’m in some weird, surreal movie,” DiCaprio laments later in the film. “I honestly look around and I think, when I have children, everything that we now take for granted, our planet and all its biodiversity and beauty, everything in the future is going to be different.”

But despite his skepticism, all is not lost, according to those most in tune with these wide-ranging effects.

Astronaut Piers Sellers, now a leading climate scientist for NASA, notes that “there are ways out” of our current predicament that could, eventually, halt global warming.

“Rather than being, ‘oh my god, this is helpless,’ say, ‘ok, this is the problem, let’s be realistic and let’s find a way out of it,’” Sellers tells DiCaprio. “And there are ways out of it. If we stopped burning fossil fuels right now, the planet would still keep warming for a little while before cooling off again.”

A high task, but one some countries have already begun to plan for.

Before the Flood” airs on the National Geographic Channel on Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. eastern. The network will have a free stream of the film up from that date through to Nov. 6 on its website, Facebook, Twitter and across streaming services.

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