The dimly lit, ritzy pub Backroom in Sector 34, could be an unusual place of choice for screening films, but it beguiled a few cinema enthusiasts and a couple of environment activists on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The 2016 documentary Before the Flood put the spotlight on global warming and climate change. It features Leonardo DiCaprio assessing climate-change trends in several countries, including India, through conversations with environmentalists, local guides, scientists, astronauts, politicians and climatologists.
Dharmesh Mehta had organised the event, expecting at least 25 people to show up. He’s the co-founder of Earthr.org, a non-profit organisation that brings sustainability issues (like climate change, plastic waste, energy crisis etc.), ideas, entrepreneurs and investors together on one platform. With some 10 people at the inn, the show began. On the screen was an image of The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych oil painting by the Early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch. In the background, DiCaprio spoke about his father’s vocation as an underground comic distributor who had worked with famous printmaker Andy Warhol and musician Lau Reed and how, he, as a child, was petrified each time he looked at the right panel of the image of Bosch’s painting. DiCaprio deciphered that the painting reflects climate change and the toll it has taken on the human existence.
DiCaprio’s exploration, to study the impact of global warming, begins straight from the heart of the issue—the tar sands and mining process of fossil fuel. Travelling from Canada’s Baffin Island and Greenland’s melting ice peaks to the rising water levels in Florida, he brings the spotlight on Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian/conservative political advocacy group in the United States.
The documentary showed startling evidences of global warming’s effect on earth. For 26-year-old Sandeep Singh, community manager at Earthr.org, climate change has been spelling itself in the smallest of things. “I’ve lived in Chandigarh since I was eight and we didn’t need so much air conditioning back then. Also, if you look at the weather, it has been fluctuating between extremes,” he says.
In conversation with Anote Tong, Kiribati’s president from 2003 to 2016, DiCaprio found that the island of Kiribati was drowning and that Tong had already made arrangements for the people of his country to migrate to Fiji Islands. The horrifying images of Sumatra’s forests and wildlife being burnt to cultivate palm oil and breed cattle for beef production in other areas of the word, pointed the fingers at consumers for making ill-informed market choices. “Agriculture is getting industrialised too. Look at Lays,” points 25-year-old M.Com. student of Dev Samaj College for Women.
With few recommendations and solutions, the documentary ended at the Paris Agreement. Matilda Malman, 21, a traveller from Sweden, worries, “India has a big problem of waste. In Sweden, which is the first fossil fuel-free country, we buy waste from other countries.”
Citing devastating incidents like the recent floods in Kerala and rising water level in Himachal, 27-year-old Prachi Kishore says, “Traffic too is a big problem and it is affecting climate. Delhi has once again been found to be the world’s most polluted city and Mumbai is fourth, according to air quality data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” she signs off.
Originally published as ‘Learn it from Leonardo’ by The Tribune, Chandigarh: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/life-style/learn-it-from-leonardo/662672.html