Leonardo DiCaprio is more than just a leading man in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Along with being a writer and producer, he’s also an outspoken activist ringing the alarm bells of the catastrophe to befall us, should we ignore our role in global warming. DiCaprio himself has been a long-time advocate for the environment, and sits on the board of many prominent organizations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
He’s also traveled the world speaking on climate change and is currently a UN messenger of peace. He even brought up climate change in his acceptance speech, when he finally won an Oscar last year for his role in The Revenant. In addition, he’s made two speeches to the UN, one in 2014 and another earlier this year.
At a two-day conference that just wrapped up on Tuesday at Yale University, he announced The Leonardo DiCaprio foundation was committing $20 million dollars in grants to 100 nonprofits working to fight climate change. The foundation has six programs. They are: Wildlife and Landscape Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Innovative Solutions, Marine and Ocean Conservation, and Transforming California. Up until now, the foundation has had a direct financial impact of $80 million, which DiCaprio himself raised.
The event at Yale was hosted by the Kerry Initiative. This is a program created by John Kerry, the former Secretary of State, presidential candidate, Massachusetts senator, and Yale graduate. According to the Hartford Currant, other speakers included, “California Gov. Jerry Brown, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, former Secretary of State James Baker, and General Electric chairman Jeffrey Immelt.”
You could feel the electricity in the room as the audience, mostly Yale students, anxiously awaited to hear DiCaprio speak. Kerry called on the students to become the agents of change, and said we need a new accountability to contain the climate’s growing temperature. “We are way behind as to what has to happen,” Kerry said. Instead, we had to start to learn to “save ourselves, from ourselves.”1
DiCaprio spoke at the podium after a clip of his interview-style climate change documentary, Before the Flood which came out last year. Since then, the actor pointed out that more species have gone extinct and wildfires and ferocious storms have become more commonplace. Scientists have been ringing the alarm bells since the ‘90s, he said. Yet, surprisingly little has been done. The economic turmoil he said, will come at us in unison with ecological disaster. According to his foundation, the environment offers us $100 trillion in free services, which are now all in peril.