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DOCUMENTARY REVIEW

of

BEFORE THE FLOOD


A Film Presented and Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio

Submitted to

Mrs. Lekshmi R. Kumar


Associate Professor
Asian School of Business

As an Assignment in
Environmental Management & Sustainability

Submitted by

Anika Varkey
Reg. No.: 18
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This Review is on the Documentary BEFORE THE FLOOD, presented & produced by
Academy Award Winner Leonardo DiCaprio. BEFORE THE FLOOD is a straightforward,
elegantly presented survey of the science on climate change and suggestions on how humans
can halt the potentially catastrophic damage theyve created. The film, shot over several
years, takes DiCaprio around the world and includes conversations with scientists,
environmentalists, and everyone from President Obama to Pope Francis.
This report reviews 5 major events that arise as a result of global warming & the main
reasons for these events and how we can take initiatives to control and reduce it. The five
major events discussed in this review are melting of the Greenland Ice Sheets, Flooded streets
of Miami due to rising sea levels, Rising Level of Carbon Dioxide in Oceans, The Impact of
Beef which is times more damaging to the environment than any form of livestock and the
Impact on the Gulf Stream.
As humans emit more heat-trapping gases, ice atop mountains, ice floating in cold ocean
waters, and the ice within large ice sheets or glaciers will flow into the sea.
Miami faces a situation called Sunny Day Flooding where water comes up in the streets
through drains during high tides.
The Oceans are like this big buffer because they absorb the carbon dioxide. They take up a
third of the CO2 that we dump into the atmosphere. The ocean cannot do its job fast enough
with this absurd rate of CO2 emissions.

Lifestyle choices are damaging carbon-absorbing habitats, especially tropical rain forests.
Beef is one of the most inefficient uses of resources on the planet. Cows produce methane.
And methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.

The Gulf Stream system, one of Earth's most important heat transport systems, is slower than
ever before, and researchers warn that it may result in drastic climate impacts, according to
new studies.
This Documentary will help in changing the way people perceive Global Warming & its
impacts and take necessary steps and do their part for the planet.
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CONTENTS

S. NO.

TOPIC

PAGE NUMBER

1.

Introduction

2.

The Greenland Ice Sheets

3.

Flooded Streets Of Miami

4.

Rising Level of Carbon Dioxide in Oceans

5.

The Impact of Beef

6.

Impact on The Gulf Stream

10

7.

Recommendations

11

8.

Conclusion

12

9.

Bibliography

13

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INTRODUCTION
Before the Flood is a star-studded rally for an important cause, the need to save the world
from apocalyptic climate change. Directed by Fisher Stevens and hosted by Oscar-award
winner Leonardo DiCaprio who talks with the likes of Pope Francis and President Barack
Obama. Before the Flood captures the different conversations hes had with scientists,
officials and locals who experience global warming first-hand.
This report reviews 5 major events that arise as a result of global warming. It emphasizes on
the main reasons for these events and how we can take initiatives to control and reduce it.
The five major events discussed in this review are melting of the Greenland Ice Sheets,
Flooded streets of Miami due to rising sea levels, Rising Level of Carbon Dioxide in Oceans,
The Impact of Beef which is times more damaging to the environment than any form of
livestock and the Impact on the Gulf Stream.
Leonardo DiCaprio got elected as the United Nations Messenger of Peace on climate change
in 2014 and he travels around the world interviewing climatologists, scientists,
environmentalists, key personalities and other experts. He presented his findings at the Paris
Climate Accord Signing after his three year journey around the world to investigate the true
reason for climate change. This review gives a clear understanding of the true reasons for
climate change, the effect on the economy, and suggestions or recommendations to control
the situation.
The Documentary begins with Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, a 500 year
old painting which depicts a twisted, decayed and burnt landscape. It shows a "paradise
that's been degraded and destroyed." This review will contain a review of five major events
with excerpts from the film where experts have given their take on this issue and what can be
done to tackle this situation. Additional information from other sources regarding this issue
will be provided to support the findings.

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FIVE MAJOR EVENTS


1. Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheets.
2. Flooded streets of Miami due to rising sea levels.
3. Rising Level of Carbon Dioxide in Oceans.
4. The Impact of Beef Ten times more damaging to the environment than any form of
livestock.
5. Impact on the Gulf Stream.

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THE GREENLAND ICE SHEETS


Leonardo DiCaprio met Jason Box, a professor at the Geological Survey of Denmark and
Greenland who spent many Arctic summers monitoring the stability of the ice sheet. He
observed that the soot from forest fires and the burning of fossil fuels has darkened the snow
and the reflectivity of ice. The climate station which consisted of a plastic hose which went
down 30 feet in the ice has now melted out. Meltwater from the surface are rushing down into
a moulin which resulted in hundreds of cubic kilometres of ice stored on land flowing into the
sea in the last five years.
The Greenland Ice Sheet extends about 1.7 million square kilometres, covering most of the
island of Greenland, three times the size of Texas. Ice sheets contain enormous quantities of
frozen water. If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, scientists estimate that sea level would rise
about 6 meters (20 feet). The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets also influence weather and
climate. Large high-altitude plateaus on the ice caps alter storm tracks and create cold
downslope winds close to the ice surface. Warm weather conditions and higher-than-average
air pressure prevailed for June, July, and August this year. Greenlands warm summer, with
significant coastal melting, led to darker-than-average areas with more bare ice as opposed to
snow on ice.
Ice sheets tell us a lot about Earth's climate history. Scientists extract ice cores from ice
sheets and ice caps, studying them to learn about past changes in Earth's climate. Ice sheets
are made up of layers of snow and ice that collected over millions of years. Those layers
contain trapped gases, dust, and water molecules that scientists can use to study past climates.
As humans emit more heat-trapping gases, ice atop mountains, ice floating in cold ocean
waters, and the ice within large ice sheets or glaciers will flow into the sea. In total, scientists
estimate approximately 270 gigatons of ice loss per year for 20112014.
The effective way to fight climate change and save the ice sheets is in the tropics. Tropical
forest conservation and restoration could constitute half of the global warming solution. One
acre of Amazon rainforest in Peru, which stores up to 180 metric tonnes of CO2, can be
protected for just a few dollars.

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FLOODED STREETS OF MIAMI

Miami, South Florida is one of the places susceptible to sea level rise due to high tides.
Miami faces a situation called Sunny Day Flooding where water comes up in the streets
through drainage. During high tides, sea level rises and water comes up through the drains.
Miami has confronted this issue by raising the ground level and installing giant pumps across
the city to push the water back into the bay. They got this done through city revenues by
raising taxes. However, this project would tackle the situation for the next 50 years only.

Scientists' measurements show that sea levels around the globe have risen by about 1.3 inches
per decade since 1990. Precise measurements from satellites as well as tide gauges indicate
that this rise has accelerated over the past 20 years, up from the previous rate of 0.7 inch per
decade in the last half of the twentieth century. New research suggests that if we continue
pumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere at a high rate globally, the water level along the
coasts could rise another 2.6 to 5.3 feet in the next 100 years. Sea-level rise is caused by two
main processes: thermal expansion of the oceans (the water expands as it heats up) and the
shrinking of ice sheets and glaciers. With tides and storms riding in on higher seas, there will
be more tidal flooding and larger storm surges.

Miami Beach plans to spend at least $400 million on its plan by 2018, raising the money
through fees imposed on homes and businesses. Raising taxes will not be favourable to the
people belonging to low income groups. Similarly, some property owners cannot afford to
raise their sea walls, putting their neighbourhoods at increased risk of flooding. Strict policies
can force some people from their homes. South Florida governments will need to raise
billions to tackle this issue and if the sea accelerates as much as some scientists fear, it is
doubtful the cities will be able to keep up.

Pumping water back into the bay will further pollute the water bodies surrounding Miami.
This strategy of raising ground levels and building walls is just for tackling the situation
temporarily. No initiatives are taken by the government to control the carbon emissions or
creating any awareness among the public regarding the matter.

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RISING LEVEL OF CARBON DIOXIDE IN OCEANS

The Oceans are like this big buffer because they absorb the carbon dioxide. They take up a
third of the CO2 that we dump into the atmosphere. The ocean cannot do its job fast enough
with this absurd rate of CO2 emissions.

Leonardo takes a ride under the ocean on a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) with
Jeremy Jackson, Marine Ecologist. He shows him how 50% of all the coral reefs have been
lost in the last 30 years. There were no marine animals in the parts they were investigating. It
looked like an underwater desert. The oceans have taken up too much CO2 such that aquatic
plants and animals are finding it difficult to survive.

Coral reefs are essential spawning, nursery, breeding, and feeding grounds for numerous
organisms. Healthy coral reefs have rough surfaces and complex structures that dissipate
much of the force of incoming waves; this protects shorelines from currents, waves, and
storms, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion. The fish that grow and
live on coral reefs are a significant food source for over a billion people worldwide.

The oceans contain a very large reservoir of carbon that can be exchanged with the
atmosphere because the CO2 reacts with water to form carbonic acid and its dissociation
products. As atmospheric CO2 increases, the interaction with the surface ocean will change
the chemistry of the seawater resulting in ocean acidification. Evidence suggests that the past
and current ocean uptake of human-derived (anthropogenic) CO2 is primarily a physical
response to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Out of the average annual total release of
9.3 billion tons of carbon per year, an average 2.5 billion tons went into the ocean annually.
Increasing CO2 modifies the climate which in turn impacts ocean circulation and therefore
ocean CO2 uptake. Changes in marine ecosystems resulting from rising CO2 and/or changing
climate can also result in changes in air-sea CO2 exchange. These feedbacks can change the
role of the oceans in taking up atmospheric CO2 making it very difficult to predict how the
ocean carbon cycle will operate in the future.

The resulting change has slowed growth of plankton, corals, and other invertebrates that
serve as the most basic level of the ocean food chain. The impacts on marine life could be
severe.
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THE IMPACT OF BEEF

Lifestyle choices are damaging carbon-absorbing habitats, especially tropical rain forests.
Gidon Eshel, a professor of environmental science and physics at Bard College in New York,
was the lead author of a study published in 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences. It made headlines around the world and found that beef is about 10 times more
damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock.

Beef is one of the most inefficient uses of resources on the planet. In the U.S., 47 percent of
land is used for food production and, of that, the major share is just to grow feed for cattle.
The things that we actually eat like fruits, vegetables and nuts are just a percent. Cows
produce methane. And methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. About 10-12 percent of total
U.S. emissions is due to beef. Methane is far more impactful than CO2. Every molecule of
methane is equivalent to 23 molecules of CO2.

Beef requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and
results in five times more climate-warming emissions. When compared to staples like
potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160
times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. Only a minute fraction of
the food consumed by cattle goes into the bloodstream, so the bulk of the energy is lost.
Meat-rich diets resulted in 7.2kg of carbon dioxide emissions. In contrast, both vegetarian
and fish-eating diets caused about 3.8kg of CO2 per day, while vegan diets produced only
2.9kg.

Cows must consume 16 pounds of vegetation in order to convert them into 1 pound of flesh.
It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat but only 25 gallons to produce a
pound of wheat. Producing just one hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20
miles. A typical pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as a city of 12,000
people. More than 80 percent of the corn we grow and more than 95 percent of the oats are
fed to livestock. The worlds cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric
needs of 8.7 billion peoplemore than the entire human population on Earth.

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IMPACT ON THE GULF STREAM


The Gulf Stream system, one of Earth's most important heat transport systems, is slower than
ever before, and researchers warn that it may result in drastic climate impacts, according to
new studies.
Leonardo met Dr. Piers Sellers, a British-born astronaut who spent a total of 35 days in orbit
in the 1990s on three separate flights aboard the space shuttle. But back on Earth, he has
spent much of his professional life modelling the climate system at NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Centre in Maryland. Sellers explains to DiCaprio his views on the current changes to
the climate as a scientist.
He shows NASAs visualizations of the Earths climate in motion where he could see the
polar ice caps melting in the form of a current. This current that is the dumping of ice off
Greenland could cause the Gulf Stream to slow down and stop its transport of heat from here
to there and then Europe would get colder because there is a lot of heat transport from across
the tropics, across the north Atlantic that keeps Europe warm. One specific area in the North
Atlantic has been cooling in the past hundred years while the rest of the world heats up as a
result of the slowdown of the Gulf Stream.
It's likely that freshwater melt coming off of Greenland is diluting saltwater and disturbing
the oceanic circulation. Less saline water is less dense, and therefore has fewer tendencies to
sink into the deep. This means that the human-caused mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet
may be slowing down the Atlantic overturning as well.
The visualisations also show the moving of the precipitation belts from the equator to further
out. This is the main reason for droughts we see today. This movement would create droughts
in parts of India, Oklahoma, U.S. and the Dust Bowl Region (Arizona, California and
Nevada, Southern Utah and western parts of Colorado and New Mexico). The worst droughts
in 900 years are going to arrive earlier than expected.
Dr. Piers suggests that if we stop burning fossil fuels right now, the planet would still keep
warming for a little while before cooling off again. Once people come out of the confusion on
this issue and the uncertainty on this issue and realistically appreciate it on some level as a
threat, and are informed on some level on what the best action is to do to deal with it, they'll
get on and do it and what seemed almost impossible to deal with becomes possible.

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RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Create public awareness about Global Warming causing melting of Ice Sheets in
Greenland which leads to rising sea levels. Burning down trees for various purposes
should be controlled to reduce the amount of soot that settles on the ice. Melting of
Ice Sheets affects the Gulf Stream which in turn reduces the temperature of European
Countries.
2. The rising sea levels cause high tides which affects Southern Florida. The
Government should work on bringing a permanent solution to the flooded streets
through strict policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
3. Restricting the investment of industries with high energy consumption and high
pollution levels can help in reducing the CO2 emissions that gets absorbed by the
ocean.
4. Keep a check on vehicles that cause more pollution mainly heavier diesel vehicles,
such as buses, coaches, goods vehicles, waste vehicles, and taxis.
5. Change in consumption habits can bring about a significant effect on the release of
Carbon Dioxide and Methane. Switching to a Vegetarian diet or a Diet that excludes
Beef would make considerable difference in the levels of Methane and CO2.
6. The Gulf Stream is severely affected due to rising temperatures leading to melting of
ice caps. Start taking an initiative to reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burnt and
this can make a huge difference on the long run.
7. Governments should be held accountable for their promises to protect the rainforests
of the planet.
8. Organisations should enter into environment friendly practices which can help in
raising the goodwill and value of the organisation.

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CONCLUSION
Before the Flood is a heartfelt, decent, educational documentary about the most important
issue of our time, climate change, presented by Oscar Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio,
who proves his own commitment to the cause. DiCaprio travels the globe examining our
fossil-fuel addiction, including emerging powerhouses such as India who now resent the idea
of being denied the energy-consumption prosperity that the US has already enjoyed.
Global Warming cannot be stopped overnight. The damage already done to the planet is very
large. The options we have in front of us are to reduce fossil fuel burning by using renewable
sources of energy like wind and solar power. Many countries have already begun investing in
such projects and are doing their part. Other countries must follow them into this path of
leaving a better plan for our future generations. The introduction of Carbon Tax is a very
good way to tackle this issue especially in developed countries like the U.S. who are ignorant
about the impact of Global Warming.
Climate Change is a serious issue and we wont understand the importance unless we face a
catastrophe. We should ensure we dont let the planet reach that state in which the effects are
fatal and difficult to reverse. The future of our planet depends on what we do today, our
lifestyle and our habits.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY
Official Website of National Snow & Ice Data Centre.
Official Website of Green Peace Canada.
Official Website of The Guardian.
Official Website of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Official Website of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Official Website of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA).
Official Website of Nature World News.

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