By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Tired of global warming doom and gloom? Here’s something new from Hollywood’s king of green, Leonardo DiCaprio: there is hope for a brighter future.
Environmental activist DiCaprio’s documentary “The 11th Hour” opens in theaters on Friday, and although the film starts with a bleak outlook on issues like global warming, much of the roughly 90-minute movie suggests ways to heal the environment with human, government and corporate action.
“It would have been pretty easy to make a film completely about doomsday scenarios, but people need to leave the theater and feel like they are somewhat responsible and make the simple choice to be active in the movement,” DiCaprio said.
Kenny Ausubel, a founder of environmental group Bioneers and an expert tapped for “11th Hour” is a bit more pointed.
“To leave people (with a doomsday view), would be like, ‘What do I do now, go home and shoot myself?'” he said. “The solutions are here. We already know what to do in most cases and even when we don’t, we know what directions to head in.”
The 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” which told of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s nearly 20-year struggle to fight global warming, captured widespread attention and earned two Oscars.
DiCaprio, Ausubel and the “11th Hour” directors, sisters Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, credit “Inconvenient Truth” for helping open the minds of many individuals, government and business leaders who had scoffed at the idea of global warming.
Even U.S. President George W. Bush, who has resisted many environmental initiatives, recently called on industrialized nations to develop a plan for reducing carbon emissions that lead to climate change.
The film’s makers hope the debate on global warming will increasingly focus on solutions. “We wanted to build bridges,” Conners Petersen said.
DiCaprio, who produced the film, acts as narrator asking questions, which are answered by experts ranging from physicist Stephen Hawking to former Soviet Union Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev.
The 32-year-old star of “Titanic” said his concern for the environment dates to his childhood and watching documentaries about the destruction of rain forests and wildlife habitats. As an adult, he learned about global warming, filmed a TV special on climate change, grew frustrated with political bickering and ramped up his activism.
He lives in a solar-powered house and drives a hybrid car. He knows many people cannot afford those items and said buying low-energy lightbulbs and appliances are two inexpensive ways to help reduce carbon emissions.
A no-cost way is to support environmentally conscious politicians, the actor said.