The Academy Awards have been mired in controversy this year, but here at Love Nature we were delighted to see a long-awaited gong going to a guy who has consistently used his fame as a platform to promote some causes very close to our heart.
Leonardo DiCaprio pocketed the best actor Oscar for his role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, about a frontiersman left for dead in the wilderness after a savage bear attack, and used his acceptance speech to swing some hard-hitting punches at the collective brain of the global audience.
During the filming of The Revenant, DiCaprio had to work in -25°C temperatures (shooting scenes where he was often flailing around in icy rivers) and munched his way through real raw bison liver, but the actor knows that truly dreadful experiences lay in wait for many people around the globe if effective action isn’t taken urgently to address global warming and other manmade problems.
‘Making The Revenant was about man’s relationship to the natural world—a world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history,’ said the 41-year-old American actor. ‘Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.’
‘Climate change is real, it is happening right now,’ he continued, imploring people to wake up to the danger. ‘It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.’
‘We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed… Let us not take this planet for granted.’
DiCaprio—who sits on the boards of the World Wide Fund for Nature, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defense Council and Global Green USA—has long been a vocal campaigner for action on climate change. In 1998 he created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the stated aim of which is to support organisations and initiatives dedicated to securing a sustainable future for the planet. He has also campaigned for greater protection for biodiversity, ocean conservation, disaster relief and improved access to clean water for people in developing nations.
In 2007 he released a feature-length documentary, The 11th Hour, which features 50 leading experts (including the likes of physicist Stephen Hawking, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai) waxing lyrical about the most pressing environmental problems the planet faces, and the innovative solutions they believe could be applied to avert climate-change caused catastrophe. Through his foundation, he has also produced several films about the increasingly urgent issue of dangerous manmade atmospheric warming, such as Water Planet.
Of course, he has also starred in some manmade disasters of his own, including Danny Boyle’s cinematic massacre of Alex Garland‘s novel The Beach, but no one is completely without sin.