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Before the Flood: Documentary on Climate Change Released Freely by National Geographic

Before the Flood is a full-length National Geographic documentary hosted by Leonardo di Caprio that looks at the impact of climate change on the planet, both now and the possible ‘nightmare scenarios’ of the future.

Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens, captures a three-year personal journey alongside Academy Award-winning actor and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio as he interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned and pragmatic views on what must be done today and in the future to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.

I know public opinion on this topic is all over the spectrum, from complete denial of any climate change at all, through having questions the cause of the warming, to full acceptance of a human-caused disaster unfolding. However, I think the section in the documentary talking to astronaut Dr. Piers Sellers (who is incidentally, terminally-ill with pancreatic cancer, but still working for the future of the planet) gets down to the bare bones of things: the facts of the current situation.

A lot of people now get confused about the issue. Facts are crystal clear:

  • The ice is melting.
  • The Earth is warming.
  • The sea level is rising.

Those are facts. Rather than feeling “oh my god, it’s hopeless”, say “okay, this is the problem – let’s be realistic, let’s find a way out of it. And there are ways out of it.”

Even if, beyond these facts, you feel that this is “just part of a natural cycle”, is a large-scale move to renewables not still the far better option, for a range of reasons ranging from air quality to resource management?

  1. more facts
    Another fact is the very likely, the Gulf Stream ocean current will break down. This will make it significantly colder in Northwestern Europe. Other ocean currents will break down too, and this will affect climate in other regions, worldwide. If there is no more cold current down the Pacific coast of North America, what does that do? Perhaps California will see more drought, perhaps it will see more subtropical weather.

    Will the Sahara be green again? How about Namibia, how will the climate change there?

    It does seem clear that the climate is changing. Probably faster than it has before. But, is that necessarily the end of humanity? That is just alarmist.

    We need clean air and clean water. I want cleaner air and cleaner water. Quite independent of climate change or no climate change. I just don’t listen to alarmist people, who have a financial interest in the population panicking.

  2. What frustrates me about this
    What frustrates me about this documentary is that it doesn’t mention enough one of the biggest drivers of climate change – animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions – more then all transport combined!

    With regard to deforestation, the World Bank has found that animal agriculture is responsible for roughly 90% of the razing of the Brazilian Amazon. Lastly, but likely most critically, animal agriculture is the number one consumer of fresh water by a significant margin. Animal agriculture consumes on average 55 trillion gallons of water annually—more than 520 times the water used in hydraulic fracturing! Surely this should be central to this documentary, and mentioned a little at the end?

    MWe must change how we produce our energy, but we also must change our diets. Unless a majority of people are willing to significantly reduce their consumption of meat and animal byproducts, or turn veggie/vegan, we’re screwed. This should have been the main part of this and every documentary alongside our use of fossil fuels.


    1. agriculture
      It is true that animal agriculture consumes a lot of fresh water. So does plant agriculture.

      That there is a shortage of fresh water is not true. In the most productive state in the USA, California, there is lots of ocean water, and lots of solar energy. That is, if we (and the agribusiness) are willing to pay for the fresh water. Instead there is a drought, and normal households are told to conserve water.

      Indeed much fresh water can be conserved by intelligent management. Like using grey water for irrigation of gardens and lawns.

      But fresh water need not be scarce anywhere. We can make it. We only need energy, and in desert areas that is free. There is not even the typical storage problem for the energy if you use it to make fresh water.

      Changing my diet to fight climate change – no I won’t. I don’t need to lose weight. I perform better eating meat. I know vegans think they are morally superior – I don’t care.

      As for the methane (an excellent green house gas, much more effective than CO2), why don’t we collect that and use it for energy production. It burns cleaner than oil,

      1. Earthling – I find your
        Earthling – I find your comments baffling and interesting.

        There is very little comparison between animal agriculture and plant agriculture – if you clicked the source I provided, you’d see that most plants we grow are actually fed to animals, that’s part of the reason animal agriculture is that damaging.

        There being ocean water and energy available doesn’t mean there is fresh water available, as you note, we don’t make fresh water, we are told to conserve. There is a shortage, there’s people still dying of starvation and thirst so yes, there isn’t enough to go around and we’re not distributing it properly.

        If you don’t cares what Vegans supposedly think why bring them up and get defensive? I suggest softly that maybe you do care, it explains your unnecessary response to my factual comment. You probably think you do better on meat, all the evidence points to meat damaging our health though, cheese and eggs are just as bad and make us sluggish and cheese is addictive.

        I don’t know, but we aren’t, so let’s stop breeding so many cows and killing them, it is cruel, we wouldn’t treat dogs or humans in this way, and it’s damaging the planet.

        1. my simple point
          My simple point is that there does not need to be a shortage of fresh water. All that we need is that consumers pay a little more for their meat.

          There is a shortage because we are being stupid, and not managing our fresh water properly. We can make any amount of fresh water that we want. There can be enough water, and there already is too much food.

          This is not a problem of resources being scarce. The people that are starving do not have enough money for food. We need to help them properly. Giving away food has been tried, with the effect of bankrupting their local farmers (in Africa).

          This is a problem of economics. The people in the areas of the world where there is starvation are not more stupid than in the rest of the world. They are being held down by their local leaders and by agricultural lobbies in the rich countries.

          Why are my comments not necessary? Because I disagree with you?
          Consider what I point out, sit back and think about it. Some of your arguments are not factual, in the sense that the reason for a water shortage is not that there is no water.

          I am not defensive about eating meat. I’m just doing better with a diet that is low on sugars and rich in proteins. It is the excess sugar that makes “civilized” people obese, not the excess animal (or plant) fat.

    2. I hate to seem cynical but
      I hate to seem cynical but likely because of the funding that the meat and dairy industry receives from certain organizations – this $$$ tends to keep people quiet about the reality, unfortunately.

  3. The Coming Ice Age
    I stumbled across an article from 1958 that puts all this in a different perspective. These guys were developing SONAR and ocean cores to study the ocean. They were starting to answer real questions when they got sidetrack by consensus science of the time. What they were finding was too scary for people to face, and we’ve gone down the wrong path since then.

    The Coming Ice Age

    1. ancient climates
      We can’t really make good models of ancient climates. We simple don’t have the data. I submit that we can’t even do that for the very recent past, like say 100 years ago. Same reason – we don’t have enough data.

      So what we do instead is the next best thing – we make climate models, and check if they agree with what little data we do have. This will eliminate obvious failures. But it is not confirmation. It is what electronics calls a smoke test – turn it on, if it smokes there is something wrong with the circuit. It doesn’t mean the circuit does what it is supposed to do.

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