The environment, as a political issue, has only (no pun intended, goddamnit) heated up since the release of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, and the hope for any sort of consensus on forward action between our current Prez and the Democratic Congress grows increasingly dim. I narrow it to a battle between the President and the Democratic Congress because I honestly think when he leaves office and takes his gaggle of environmental appointees – almost all of whom “coincidentally” used to work for or lobby with energy companies – with him, then the last major obstacle for America to wake the fuck up about this will be removed. It’s not a partisan issue – there a number of subsets of the Republican base that have come around to the need for environmental action for various reasons, even religious – but somehow we’ve turned it into one in this country. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is revolutionizing common every day use for solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources by using and expanding upon technologies developed (and subsequently ignored) in this country. Still, the purpose of this article isn’t an extended environmental rant, but rather something of a preview of what you can expect in the new documentary The 11th Hour, which is produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Leo’s been a dedicated green for sometime, but he’s decided to put his onscreen clout to work for the cause. While you may think it’s a rehash of material covered by Gore, the focus of Leo’s doc is more on specific actions to take and the scale we have to make this happen in. While it’s fine to carbon trade, recycle, and whatever else an individual does to ease their conscience, it will take deep, society-altering changes to stem this tide, so to speak. In this week’s Media Reports, I covered the Vanity Fair issue with Leo on the cover, and buried way, way, way in the back of the issue are excerpts from the various speakers in the film, covering a range of government officials and scientists. It’s sobering stuff, forcing us to look honestly at industrialization itself, and apparently, the film doesn’t back away from these bold recommendations and stark appraisals one bit. I’m sure a certain amount of people will write this off as gloom-and-doom treehugging nonsense because these very people did the same with Gore’s film. But hopefully, DiCaprio’s clout and charm will help this message penetrate deeper.
The real news is that the film’s been picked up by Warner Independent Pictures, which means a lot in terms of visibility and promotion. I’m sure the profitable and lengthy run that An Inconvenient Truth gave to Paramount Classics factored heavily into the decision as well, but who gives a shit about the motivation? If it takes an onslaught of environmental docs, so be it. It’s far past time to move this to the forefront of the national debate.