It took me a while to take Leonardo DiCaprio seriously after Titanic. He was the major reason I was an emotional wreck at the age of twelve just because his fictional character drowned in the movie. When I finally got over the crying phase, I realized I didn’t like the storyline at all. And so together with Titanic, my love for DiCaprio was buried for a while. He regained my sympathy throughout the years. And after seeing the Before The Flood documentary, I’m seriously thinking about putting that 20-year-old poster up again.

Before The Flood starts with Leonardo telling about a poster he had in his crib as a child. Which was a print of The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych from Hieronymus Bosch, painted approximately between 1490 and 1510. The outside is a painting of the world during creation, the 3 scenes at the inside show us the evolution of mankind destroying all beauty on this planet. With a view on the underestimated climate issue, this triptych almost looks visionary. If we wouldn’t know anything about its Biblical background.

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Hieronymus Bosch – The Garden of Earthly Delights

Before The Flood

For those who have lived on another planet the past few days… Before The Flood is a documentary about climate change, directed by Fisher Stevens and produced in collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. For two years, the team travelled around the world. They visited different countries and interviewed specialized scientists, world leaders such as Barack Obama and Pope Francis. I’ve always taken climate change very seriously but after seeing this documentary, I was once again shocked. How could we haven taken it that far? And so many of us aren’t even aware of the situation or still in denial.

Before The Flood is something everyone must have seen. Watch the documentary via this link on Youtube:

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On the surface

Entire rainforests are cut, the sea level is rising, the Arctic melting, the Greenland ice disappearing and I can probably keep on summing up disasters for quite a while. We’re given this beautiful planet and we’re destryoing it.

Did you know that 80% of the rainforests in Indonesia have been replaced by oil palms? And that most of the animals living in these forests didn’t survive? Just because it’s the cheapest vegetable oil used in food and cosmetics. And the Indonesian government is so corrupt that they just all let it happen.

Greenland used to have a beautiful snow white color, now several parts have turned into fifty shades of dirty grey. This means it has no longer a cooling but a self heating effect.

When cows chew they produce methane or CH4. One molecule methane equals 23 molecules of CO2. So eating 1/2 lb. burger is the same as 24 hours of window airconditioning use or 24 miles of driving a Toyota Prius.

And these are just a few of the problems mentioned in Before The Flood.

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This is how a rainforest should look like

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After

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Below the sea level

I’ve never seen a coral reef in real life and I’m afraid that there’s a small chance I ever will since 50% (???) has disappeared in the last 30 years. Besides forests, the oceans are the longs of our planet. They take out 1/3 of the CO2 in the atmosphere. And nowadays they can’t do their jobs fast enough.

“We take away the eco systems that help us stabilize the planet” – Before The Flood

Not to mention all the fish we’re catching, the whales we’re killing, the marine life we’re destroying. “Finding Dory” was a blockbuster, it makes us emotional and it’s oh so cute. But that’s on screen, we couldn’t care less about the Dory’s in real life.

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What a coral reef should look like

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In the past 30 years, 50% of all coral reefs have been lost

Most of us are still in denial

We (and with we, I refer to the Belgian population) haven’t noticed much of a climate change. People only tend to see the problem when it’s there and when it’s their problem. That we’re accessory to the fact that entire woods are disappearing, the melting of the Arctic is still distant and unknown. So we keep on eating meat 3 times a day and driving around in our cars. Until the day we have to deal with the consequences ourselves. Wasn’t there a famous saying “better safe than sorry”?

And we Europeans are not even doing so bad compared to the Americans. In the documentary is said that consumption of electricity by 1 person in the U.S. equals 1.5 person in France, 2.2 in the U.K. and 2.6 in Germany. As usual the Scandinavians have proven themselves being ahead of things once again. Sweden will be the first fossil-fuel-free nation in the world. And in Denmark wind turbines supply the equivalent of about 42% of electricity demand in 2015. The country promised to be 100% fossil-fuel free by 2050.

What can we do?

History has proven that we, the people, like a good game of puppetry. We let a small group of rich men control the strings and benefit from our behavior. To keep the list short: Politicians, lobbying and business share in what we eat, our transport, what we hear and read. Or did you actually think that nepotism, abuse of power and money-grabbing were topics from the last century? So wake up from whatever bubble you’re in. You have a voice, use it!

Besides not believing every thing that is said to you there are many other small but important steps you can take. The first one is eating less red meat, veggies are delicious too and if you’re really stubborn you can always replace that piece of beef by chicken. Don’t even get into your mind that fish is a nice alternative unless you want our oceans to be empty in the near future. And oh yes, sushi is also fish in case you had forgotten.

Stop consuming products that contain palm oil to save those dear forests. Food, cosmetics and so on… you’d be surprised how omnipresent palm oil is. And last but not least a thing we’ve know for a long time: don’t waste energy. Don’t put the heating and lights on all day and go to work by bike or public transport.

If you’re rolling your eyeballs at the exact moment when reading this (however, I think there’s a small chance you ever got this far in the article). Yes, your denial and ignorance is part of the problem. And I hope you don’t have children or grandchildren who will ever have to suffer because of your short-term thinking.

Photo credits: Before the flood, National Geographic, Wikimedia, AFP