I oftentimes wonder about the world in which my boys will live as adults. The buzzwords that invoke concern have been thrown around in political conversations for decades: global warming, greenhouse effect, climate change. As a concerned parent, I find myself doing what I always do when it comes to my kids: researching the facts to find out what I can do to ensure a future for them as much as possible. That pursuit led me to an eye-opening documentary, Before the Flood.
Narrated by and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, the film sheds a tremendous light on global energy consumption and the role the United States plays in the depletion of valuable, non-renewable resources. Are we Americans the only ones who need to take responsibility? Of course not. But when you stand face to face with the excessive consumption that Americans are responsible for, you will also understand the need for our country to implement some type of immediate reform if we are going to leave our kids any semblance of a planet worth anything.
There were many takeaways throughout the documentary, but several huge ideas greatly impacted me after digesting all that this film presented. The first is that we all are super consumers that need to reform how we use natural resources and live our day-to-day lives. In large and small ways we are blindly (and oftentimes not-so-blindly) killing Mother Earth—rapidly. It’s mind-blowing to know that the amount of electricity one American uses could be split among 61 Nigerian homes or 34 Indian homes. Unreal.
Second, America needs to understand and take seriously the notion that we are a world-influencing country. It’s true: as America goes, so goes the rest of the world. Because we as a country are disengaging from the conversation, the world is taking note and doing the same. What’s more, we as collective world citizens are failing to see the poorer countries that are feeling the impacts of global carelessness most directly. The cycle of apathy begets more apathy, and that can only mean one thing for our kids’ future: there might not be one without serious changes.
Finally, though Before the Flood may hit watchers with several doses of our world’s grim reality, the film surprisingly left me with a tremendous amount of hope. DiCaprio discovers some serious problems around the world that need immediate solutions and action, but he also identifies viable and extremely feasible solutions that, if implemented by the masses, could make a world of difference for our kids in the future. What that has meant for me is making small steps in my planning, shopping, eating and daily living that push me to think differently about how I use my resources.
In turn, that has helped me teach my boys about consumption at an early age. We recycle; we make a point to turn lights and electronics off when not in use; we conserve water in the house. We take the cargo bikes out more frequently nowadays. There are so many small things that can be done to close the numerous problems we have created for the planet. I didn’t necessarily need this documentary to understand that, but watching it definitely helped spur me to action. I hope it will do the same for many, many more people.