I’m Not A Fan Of Leonardo DiCaprio: A Critique of ‘Before The Flood’

One thing I miss about home (funnily enough) are my communications classes, where we get to critique, dissect and analyse what’s going on in the world of media. And anyone who’s been paying attention to Mr Leonardo DiCaprio lately (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?) would know that he, along with National Geographic released the feature length documentary titled ‘Before The Flood.’ You can check out the trailer below.

Now we all know that good ol Leo is an avid environmentalist. We’ve seen him give fancy speeches at the UN, talk with Barack Obama and grow an awesome hippy beard. Whilst I support the fact that Leo (a global sensation) can bring attention to the pressing issue of Climate Change… I’m not entirely sure that this movie did that. And maybe that’s just because I’ve seen my fair share of environmental movies and am pretty well informed about the issue, but come on Leo, I think you just scratched the surface on this one. So here are my major critiques of this film.

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Why was it focused around you, Leo?

Leo, hearing about the painting that hung above your crib as a child was lovely and all but why was this whole documentary focused around you. It was you being shocked by air pollution in China, you being flown in a helicopter to see the tar sands in Alberta, you who met the Pope and Barack Obama. And sure, I’m glad that you found enlightenment and were motivated to take action upon seeing and experiencing these things… but realistically, Climate Change is not going to directly affect you, a wealthy actor from California who will still be able to afford food, petrol, clothes and energy. I know that Climate Change will affect us all, but it affects us unequally. It affects the poor in India who have no access to energy. It affects those who can’t farm their own food. And it affects those who don’t have time to rebuild their communities before another hurricane destroys it (again). It affects First Nations people losing their sacred land to be mined. The focus should’ve been shifted towards these individuals to create a more emotive and real portrayal of the effects of Climate Change. Stop taking all the spotlight man!

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Climate Change is a people problem

I believe a huge issue around Climate Change is the way it’s framed in the media. This goes beyond the whole ‘showing climate deniers on news stories etc’ because we all know that’s bullsh*t. I’m talking about from the environmentalists. We’ve all seen the image of a polar bear standing on a melting piece of ice before. We’ve seen before and after pictures of melting glaciers. We’ve seen the effects of more frequent and severe storm patterns. Climate Change is a human problem. We obviously haven’t responded well to seeing nature suffer, but what about us humans? Given our current refugee crisis – especially Australia’s attitude towards refugees, perhaps nothing will change us.

It perpetuates the idea of ‘developing countries’ 

I’m not denying there are huge differences between the developed / developing world, the Global North / Global South, First / Third World… whatever you want to call it. But I’m sick of seeing countries like China and India be portrayed as countries with no consideration for the environment. And that as they go their their economic and industrial boom, it’s portrayed that they are destroying the environment faster than ‘we’ have. Of course this is a significant issue but these countries and the people who are affected by air pollution, restricted access to energy, flooding, storms etc, are protesting, innovating and acting. If Climate Change is a global challenge then we really need to act globally. Therefore we need to move away from this backward notion that developing countries are bad guys of Climate Change because that’s simply not true… ahem… Australia, United States, Canada…

There was nothing groundbreaking

Ice caps and glaciers melting, sea levels rising, the Pacific Islands going under water creating Climate Refugees, tar sands in Alberta, China has bad air pollution, we should all eat less meat, America and the majority of the West’s economy built on fossil fuels….? This is Climate Change 101. I didn’t feel that this documentary contributed anything new to my knowledge of Climate Change or how to combat it.

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On The Bright Side

OK fine Leo, I’ll give you two compliments. But that’s it.

Firstly was your interview with Sunita Narain. When she shook her head at you, damn did I resonate with that shake. Her perspective an extremely valid point. That people who have absolutely no access to electricity don’t care if their energy comes from renewable or non-renewable sources. It just needs to be cheap. And she strongly suggests that the US and other developed countries should be leading the way in making renewable energy affordable and accessible.

And secondly was his interview with astronaut turned environmentalist and innovator Piers Sellers who has dedicated the rest of his life to mapping Climate Change. He talks about seeing the world from such a unique perspective (from space) and how that experience changed his perspective on Climate Change and it’s representation. I believe he’s nailed the thought that we need to look at Climate Change from a completely different perspective and if it takes someone who’s seen the world from outer space, then so be it.

OK so I know I’ve been extremely critical and it’s not entirely Leo’s fault (I’ll still love you Leo). But Climate Change is urgent, and it’s going to take more than a celebrity talking to some scientists, standing in front of a melting glacier to help. Especially when we’re hearing a repetitive narrative.

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For more information on what you can do or how you can get involved, check out Oxfam’s Climate Change page here: https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/food-and-climate/climate-change/

 

 

 

One Month of Being a VEGETARIAN

So if you remember, in December last year, I wrote down a bunch of goals and things that I wanted to achieve in 2016. And one of them was to try out being a vegetarian. My reasons behind it are environmental because of the amount of CO2 the red meat industry is responsible for. Plus the amount of resources such as water that are put in to producing just the grains to then feed the livestock. For me – it’s a bit of a deal breaker. With a number of my friends that are already vegetarians and me personally never really buying much meat… I thought I’d give it a try. And this is what my first month of being a vegetarian has been like.

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Some amazing bruschetta I made!

Adaptation

Like any new habit, it takes a while for it to sink in and become second nature. For me trying to train my brain to not eat meat, I was off to a bad start.

So, I spent NYE in Melbourne and had a pretty great time. I also had quite a lot of alcohol, so you could imagine my mornings started a bit rocky. On New Years Day (DAY 1 of being a vegetarian), I got up earlier than all of my friends and I decided I would go grocery shopping to buy ingredients to make an awesome breakfast. I bought avocado, tomatoes, eggs, haloumi, mushrooms, bread and bacon. But I bought the bacon for everyone else knowing that they would love it and I would be happy with the rest of what I had bought. Breakfast was a breeze… it was in the afternoon that got a bit tricky.

It was about 3pm and I was starting to crash. I was tired and absolutely hungry. My friend and I were walking the streets of Melbourne, hot and exhausted. When suddenly, we came across a Nando’s! Hallelujah! Finally, some delicious food that I need to get me through the rest of the day. So we went in and bought so much chicken, went back to our apartment and went into a food coma.

Later that afternoon we were out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and I was going through the menu and I said to my friends ‘ah that looks good but I can’t have it, it’s chicke-‘ and then I paused. OMG! I had just eaten a massive thing of Nando’s only a few hours earlier! So incredibly embarrassing and hilarious!

So technically my month of vegetarianism started on the 2nd of January. But it just goes to show how hard it is for your brain to be active in reminding yourself that ‘hey don’t eat that, that’s meat’ or to learn a new hobby. It’s hard and it took me a while! But a month in and I’ve pretty much accustomed myself to it now.

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Munching on fruit all the time. Can’t complain with that. Source
Eating Yummy Foods

Because I’ve now taken meat out of the equation, I’m always looking for something to substitute it for my meals. So I’ve been trying to get a bit creative with my cooking. Using lentils, cheeses, falafels, spreads like hummus, and sprinkling meals with chilli and lemon really give whatever it is that I make an extra kick.

Eating Lots of Yummy Seafood

OK so I’m not exactly vegetarian, but pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood). I made this decision because I love seafood and I need to have some sort of balance of protein and it’s a good way to get my Omega 3. Plus, I LOVE stir fries with prawns and I just wasn’t ready to give them up just yet. I try to eat fish at least once a week. Along with eating lots of yummy seafood and fresh fruit and veges, I feel a lot healthier within myself. I know it’s only been a month but I feel that I have a lot more energy than I usually have. We’ll see how this goes long term.

Saving Money

Going out to dinner is generally the only time I have issues with being a vegetarian. I look at the menu and see the specialty lamb burgers and think ‘damn.’ But – the vegetarian options are usually cheaper and jam packed with amazing flavours!

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Source. 
The Down Side

It was quite interesting to see how the people around me reacted to me becoming a vegetarian. There’s a pretty well known stereotype of vegetarians and vegans always telling anyone and everyone about how they’re vegetarians. I do not do this. And neither do my friends who are vegetarians. Just sometimes it comes up in conversation – like ordering food. The negative vibes wore off eventually but I was pretty surprised by the amount of slack I received from a lot of people around me. Well it’s stopped now so I must of convinced them how good it is 😉

So that’s been my month of being a vegetarian. It’s been interesting and I’ve learnt a lot. I started off committing to a month and I’m planning on continuing it for at least another. We’ll see how we go – and of course, I’ll keep you in the loop!

Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Do you have any suggestions on how to keep going and find tasty new recipes? Let me know in the comments below!