‘You Can Make History or Be Vilified By It’: Leonardo DiCaprio at the UN Climate Summit
At the United Nations Climate Summit, Leonardo DiCaprio addressed more than 100 world leaders on September 23th, regarding “the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet’. In his speech, he emphasized the risks of climate change and encourages leaders to take action now in what he said is ‘not a partisan debate’.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, has recently appointed DiCaprio as a UN Messenger of Peace on climate change. This well-deserved title is the result of DiCaprio’s environmental activism. Just two days before he delivered his speech, DiCaprio joined over 310,000 people at one of the People’s Climate March in New York City, to raise awareness of the detrimental affects of climate change. Alongside the marchers, were Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, former Vice President Al Gore, and a number of senators. Through this movement, millions are participating in similar rallies around the world. An official count has confirmed that the People’s Climate March in New York City was the largest climate rally in history.
With the world’s attention, Leonardo DiCaprio’s short, yet stirring speech solidifies that the issue of accelerating climate change has become a large-scale issue, which only world officials can fully confront. He remarked, “To be clear, this is not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid car. This disaster has grown beyond the choices that individuals make’. DiCaprio also mentioned examples of the effects of climate change with melting ice sheets, intensifying storms and the acidifying of the ocean. He believes that it the responsibility of governments to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide from industries. Regarding the escalating issue of climate change, Andrea Ramirez ’17 of Ridge High School comments, ‘Problems that we think are important to address, are now trends; not problems’.
With notable roles in movies such as Titanic, Inception, and The Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio also mentioned his history as an actor to differentiate climate change from fiction and fact. “As an actor, I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way’, DiCaprio states. The statistics and correlations cannot be denied; today, the amount of emitted carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. The increased concentration of CO2 is insulating more heat, therefore causing ice glaciers to melt, increasing the height of sea level. If this process continues at its current rate, our wildlife and costal cities will be caught in an irreversible, threatening situation in the future. Ridge High School student, Brandon Lu ’18 reflects, ‘Climate change is a big problem in today’s world. We should focus more on being environmentally friendly instead of causing more pollution by causing wars’.
Leonardo DiCaprio concluded his speech by calling for action by the audience of world leaders. As of now, they are at the United Nations headquarters to create solutions to combat the excessive amount of carbon emissions. Through DiCaprio’s influential words, people around the globe are unified with hope that more steps will be taken to slow down the acceleration of global climate change, once and for all.
...(download the rest of the essay above)