It’s been eleven years since Leonardo DiCaprio and director Leila Conners worked together on The 11th Hour – their first climate change documentary about the causes and massive risks posed by living on a significantly warmer planet. As producer and narrator, DiCaprio adds to his growing catalogue of climate change and environmental works, such as this year’s Sea of Shadows, about the extinction crisis of the world’s smallest whale, as well as A Plastic Ocean and Before The Flood.
Coming off high praise at a Cannes premiere last month and another in Los Angeles just last week, DiCaprio’s Ice On Fire looks to be a missing piece to the puzzle in terms of climate solutions. Although the trailer feels a little grim from the outset, like the film, it’s not long before we’re hearing about the groundbreaking work being done by scientists, inventors, farmers, activists and entrepreneurs, and all to give civilization as we know it a chance in the face of dire climate predictions; recent reporting concludes we have only 10-15 years before the planet reaches a devastating and volatile tipping point.
As the film cuts to practical ideas and innovations, a series of short stories takes you through a wide array of efforts underway around the globe: an underwater kelp and mussel farmer on the American coast, massive solar farms in Germany, new machines that pull CO2 from the air in Iceland, a biochar facility that restores soil in the Pacific Northwest – the list goes on…
One of the voices we hear from is Ietef Vita, who also happens to be a Recreator® brand partner. As an urban farmer and vegan chef (as well as a rapper), Vita works through the soil and food choice to sequester carbon: “Culinary climate action is basically what I like to see. When I’m growing food, it’s taking all that carbon out of the atmosphere. It’s pulling it in. And we also see the fact that we can put back into the soil … The best way you can transform that is by growing some food. Put it on the roof, put it in your window sill.”
Janine Benyus of the Biomimicry Institute makes the broader point that “climate change gives us the opportunity to really behave differently on this planet. We’ve seen what we can do at our worst. And now the question is, if we were to consciously be a part of the healing, it’ll unleash our creativity … If we were to see ourselves as helpers, who could help the helpers heal this planet, that is so much better than seeing ourselves as disruptive toddlers with matches.”
Let’s face it, climate change is complex, and we lack any real historical precedent – plus if we muff it up, the consequences could spell the end of many aspects of the civilization we currently know. Complex problems usually require multi-faceted solutions strategies, and climate reversal is no different. Each region and skillset has its own responsibilities in this fight.
“I think we’re at a crossover,” eco-author and activist Paul Hawkens explains. “Up until recently, the profit you could make from creating the problem was greater than the profit you could make from the solutions … It’s not that there’s one solution. But together, you can achieve drawdown by doing 80% of the solutions. Every one of them has so many cascading benefits.”
Hawkens frames the circumstance poignantly: “Is it game over, or is it, in fact, game on? Which is that we have at hand, the ability, capacity and solutions that can reverse global warming. Not mitigate. Not stabilize. But reverse.”
Ultimately, Ice On Fire is an instructional guide as to how we can avoid catastrophe and biological collapse on planet Earth. What’s ultimately needed is to grow the collective climate movement that is forming, and then educate, organize and demand justice in the battle for our future. No one can save us but ourselves.
“If we are able to reverse climate change in time, it would be an unprecedented achievement in human history. But the clock is ticking. Scientists say we must implement these solutions immediately,” DiCaprio spells out in the opening credits.
“We are the first generation to see the advance of climate disruption, and the last with the chance to fix it. In spite of all this evidence, we are currently burning fossil fuels at an ever-increasing rate,” he later warns. “It is time to end the delay, to listen, and to implement the solutions at hand. Time is running out; the ice is melting. Decisive action must be taken now, there is no other option. The moment is within our reach – let us grasp it.”
_ _ _ _ _ _
What's a climate-concerned citizen to do? Here's the rundown:
+ We have to rethink the way we power society in terms of electricity and transportation by looking to solar, wind, and natural waterways as we continue to upgrade our lithium battery technologies. We must pursue a rapid transition away from coal, oil and natural gas through carbon taxes and international policy agreements like the Paris Climate Accords.
+ We must invest in and subsidize carbon capture technologies to help engineers, designers and entrepreneurs do what they do best – solve problems. The green jobs boom could use the same advantages oil companies receive through active and lucrative lobbying efforts in Washington D.C.
+ We must rebuild our organic soils through regenerative agriculture, as healthy soils can capture and sequester carbon better than the plants they produce. This also means shopping for more organic foods and gradually shifting to more plant-based diets, as well as looking to more multi-use sustainable industrial crops like hemp. It sequesters large amounts of carbon per acre and can be used to produce hundreds of products. More on hemp x climate solutions inside the REC Journal.