By Sophie Foster
Students filled Norman James Theater on Thursday, Feb. 16 for the screening of Leonardo DiCaprio’s National Geographic documentary “Before the Flood,” which considers the climate crisis.
This screening, the latest in the Communication and Media Studies Department’s Washington College Film Series, was planned in collaboration with the Center for Environment and Society and environmental honor society Kappa Alpha Omicron.
According to Director and Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies Dr. Meghan Grosse, CMS was “really lucky this month to have CES and KAO.”
The purpose of this collaboration was to take time to highlight the impact of climate change in the immediate future and evaluate measures that can be taken to more appropriately address the issue moving forward.
“The important thing to know is when we’re talking about climate change, we’re talking about extremes and anomalies becoming way more common,” representative of KAO senior Andrew Baron said. “You often hear people say ‘it’s happened before,’ and that’s true. The main [issue] is the rate at which it’s happening…the shocking and frightening rate of temperature [alterations].”
This is the premise dissected in the documentary, which was released in 2016 and features appearances from Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey, and Elon Musk alongside DiCaprio as he investigates the circumstances that led to the present climate crisis, the steps that need to be taken to alleviate the direness of the situation, and the science of the matter.
A critical component of this dialogue, according to Baron, is defining the difference between weather and climate.
“Weather is short-term atmospheric conditions,” Baron said. “Climate is the long-term weather conditions…from decades to centuries. We’re talking about long-term impacts that have major impacts on the ecology of these areas.”
Said conditions are explored in full by DiCaprio and his team, as they visit the United Nations as well as Greenland, China, India, and other major nations engaged in the climate conversation.
“We want to know how your feelings fluctuate as you watch this film,” representative of kappa Alpha Omicron senior Paleena Amy said. “If it inspires you to take action, if it discourages you.”
Ultimately, the film found that humanity’s fate is interconnected, but also that there is power in action on an individual level. DiCaprio urged the viewership to demand bold action from political leaders, elect representatives with the best interests of the public in mind, and to deprioritize the investments of major corporations that perpetuate destruction.
“Climate change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all,” Secretary General of the U.N. Ban Ki-Moon said in the documentary.