"Before the Flood", a new documentary on the urgency of climate change action by Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens aired last night on Miami Beach. The day before, "Before the Flood" premiered at the White House. If only American voters were required to view the film before voting in November.
The film lays out the case that the planet is experiencing global warming impacts much more quickly than even the most conservative estimates by scientists. Three years in the making, and still the daily news of abnormal, extreme weather events seems to overtake even the film's latest edit.
Inaction is the result of fossil fuel industries that primarily fund an intransigent Republican Congress and the right-wing echo chamber including Fox News, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. (What can you do? The filmmakers urge viewers to be part of an action movement on climate change, and to start by signing up on its website, here.)
The message and timing of its release (by National Geographic, owned paradoxically by the family of Rupert Murdoch, who earned billions through Fox News' hate and fright media empire) is that American voters are squarely in the world spotlight this November. Among the luminaries interviewed by Leonardo DiCaprio, President Obama makes the case concisely: even if you aren't "a romantic" who believes the wonders of the world should be preserved for our children and grandchildren, the rapid change in climate -- unprecedented in human history -- is an immediate national security threat. Not tomorrow: today.
In the film, climate change deniers in Florida -- Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott, Donald Trump's national finance chair -- feature in the negative light they deserve, given the immense costs to Florida and the region.
The film brilliantly uses computer graphics, data-driven animation, and visual imagery that tells the most important story in the history of mankind. Viewers unfamiliar with the subject terrain are likely to be impressed by the concise story through simple and memorable images.
Among the compelling testimonies by world leaders: the energy minister of India who lays out the clear case why, absent immediate leadership by the United States and the industrialized west, the planet is likely to burn to a crisp -- denying economic security to everyone, not just the poor and dispossessed the way climate change impacts are happening today.
The evil actors in "Before The Flood" are the international corporations funding the politics of climate change denial. They include Exxon, BP, Shell and the largest privately-held company, the Koch Brother enterprises. Fossil fuel interests are the key backers of Donald Trump and GOP leaders in Congress blocking the path to a carbon tax -- advocated in the film by George W. Bush's top economic advisor. (Eye On Miami regularly features the crimes against humanity embedded in climate change denialism. Check our archives.)
Last night, at the conclusion of the film, actor and film-maker Mark Ruffalo introduced DiCaprio, Stevens, and a local panel including Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine. Ruffalo told the audience of Florida voters that they should vote NO on Amendment 1 in November. The state's electric utilities are spending $20 million to promote a constitutional amendment that would hold solar power hostage to its interests.
Amendment 1 is designed to confuse voters into thinking it is a positive measure for climate change adaptation. In fact, what the amendment would do is to consolidate the power of solar energy in the hands of the state's electric utilities; the same large corporations like FPL that have obscured and lead the way in climate change denialism.
Along this line, it is worth noting that a GOP member of Congress from Florida (8th District), Bill Posey, recently introduced federal legislation that would protect corporations from requirements to disclose risk from climate change. The New York Times reported: "... at a time when many Republicans dispute the very notion of climate change, the Posey measure has focused the debate over whether it is reasonable -- or even possible -- to expect companies to put a price tag on the environmental impact of climate change." This extraordinary measure, at face value, sounds like an effort by Florida's electric utilities to stop exactly what I proposed through a SEC-approved shareholder resolution to NextEra Energy earlier this year: that the corporation should be required to report annually to shareholders on the risk to markets and infrastructure through sea-level rise.
In other words, US corporations that fund climate change denialism and elections, primarily through the Republican Party, are already laying out escape routes for their top executives who, one suspects, are planning armed fortresses high on mountain tops stocked with canned goods.
These are just a few ideas of what is at stake in the November election for president, for Congress, and for the state legislature. The science is clear, as "Beyond The Flood" shows viewers. All our treasures, from the sacred to the profane, from law and order to shopping aisles filled with goods we take for granted, is on the line. Not tomorrow. Now.