After decades spent making movies, Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won the coveted Oscar for his role in The Revenant. His talents cannot be understated. DiCaprio had been nominated four times before his eventual win. During his Oscar acceptance speech, he brought the world's attention to climate change.
Acting talent aside, DiCaprio is a dedicated environmentalist who has long received praise for his eco activism. What most people might not be aware of is that he, along with Secretary Of State John Kerry, helped secure the Paris Agreement, which is considered the most important international climate change treaty in history. So what else has DiCaprio done to help save the planet?
1. Told Us To Take Responsibility For Climate Change
Personal opinions aside, you really need to listen to DiCaprio's speech at the opening of Climate Summit 2014. The man really knows how to orate. As the newly appointed United Nations Messenger Of Peace, DiCaprio said that as an actor:
"I pretend for a living. I play characters often solving fictitious problems. I believe that mankind has looked at climate change in the same way. As if it were a fiction."
DiCaprio is right, especially when talking about the very country in which he lives. In a recent study, 16 percent of Americans believe there is not enough evidence to prove global climate change is real. Much of the "debate" is divided along political lines, to which DiCaprio has this to say:
"This is not a partisan debate. It is a human one. Clean air and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. Solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is a question of our own survival. This is the most urgent of times and the most urgent of messages."
This is an impressive way to tell the world that climate change is serious and we all need to address this issue as soon as possible. In an interview with Ukula about his film The 11th Hour, DiCaprio cited global warming as the No. 1 environmental challenge.
2. Leo Helped Make The Oscars Environmentally Friendly
In 2007, An Inconvenient Truth won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, while DiCaprio was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Blood Diamond. Both he and former Vice President Al Gore made a special announcement on how the Academy Awards had incorporated environmentally intelligent practices to reduce the award show's carbon footprint.
Invitations were printed on high-quality recycled paper, winners clutched gold-plated statuettes made from sustainable steel and feasted on organic food served on biodegradable dishware, including clamshells, at the after-party.
3. He Also Helped Bring About The Paris Agreement
The meeting pictured in John Kerry's tweet ultimately produced the Paris Agreement. DiCaprio used his position as U.N. Messenger Of Peace On Climate Change to garner attention and to speak to mayors from major cities around the world, discussing how they could help avert environmental disaster. This landmark climate charter committed some 195 nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
To be fair, Leo was not singularly responsible for this agreement, but he certainly played a role.
4. Advocated For Native Americans And First Nation People
DiCaprio also won a Golden Globe for his role in The Revenant and he used his high profile to highlight the plight of indigenous peoples and their fight for land rights:
"I want to share this award with all the First Nations people represented in this film and all the indigenous people around the world. It is time we recognize your history and we protect your lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them."
While some people have criticized The Revenant for relegating Native Americans to the background, the indigenous Arikara and Pawnee characters play significant supporting roles in the movie; Hawk (Forrest Goodluck) and Elk Dog (played by First Nations actor Duane Howard) either assist or antagonize DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass. The movie also employed cultural consultants and much of the dialogue in the film is spoken in the Arikara language.
Mark N. Fox, chair of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, wrote to BuzzFeed News:
Mr. DiCaprio’s words and support for our rights and the rights of all Indigenous nations are amazing and courageous. Like a man with true character, he is willing to challenge American Society where many others of influence fear to tread. His efforts both on and off the screen have brought honor to our Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan people. We look forward to allying with him in the struggle to promote truth and protect our rights as sovereign and Indigenous people!
5. Leo Encourages Us To Eat Less Meat
This might be the hard one to swallow, given that many of us love meat, myself included. Unfortunately, raising cattle for food leaves a huge environmental footprint. Cattle is responsible for most of our water usage, as well as the destruction of vast swaths of Amazon rainforests.
In 2015, DiCaprio produced a Netflix-exclusive cut of the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. This film examined the impact of animal agriculture on the environment and the policies of environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network to tackle this issue.
6) He Invests In Green And Environmentally Responsible Ventures
Sure, it's good to stand on a platform and preach, but DiCaprio goes much further. He invests in green startups and encourages others to do so. DiCaprio is a member of the Divest-Invest coalition, an organization that urges investors to take their money out of companies that contribute to climate change. A pretty bold move, if you ask me.
DiCaprio is also one of the investors in Rubicon Global, a startup that seeks to create an Uber-like app for trash collecting. This company has been called one of the most innovative companies of 2016 by Fast Company.
Making trash collection better is not the only goal of this Oscar winner. DiCaprio is also an investor in Diamond Foundry, a California-based company that grows artificial diamonds. The company is able to produce a diamond in two weeks by seeding a diamond crystal with carbon atoms. This results in a gem-quality rock, about 9 carats in size.
But Wait! There's More?!
This list is by no means exhaustive. DiCaprio has donated millions to the Wildlife Conservation Society at Russia's Tiger Summit in 2010. The two plane delays that would have deterred normal mortals did not prevent DiCaprio from attending the event. This caused then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to call Leonardo a muzhik or "real man." Given the many photos of a bare-chested Putin hunting, this is high praise indeed.
DiCaprio also joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund's campaign to free Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger who has spent the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. Since 2003, Tony has been living alone in a small, inadequate and inhumane enclosure. In 2011 a judge ordered the Louisiana Department Of Wildlife And Fisheries to revoke the permit that allowed Michael Sandlin, owner of the Tiger Truck Stop, to keep Tony on display.
Unfortunately, despite the Animal Legal Defense's victory, Sandling still keeps Tony on display without a permit.
And there you have it. DiCaprio's talents are not in dispute and his Oscar win was long overdue. (He should have won for Blood Diamond, but that's just my opinion). The record does show some of the things Leo is truly passionate about and is doing what he can to save the world. It looks like we really can add superhero to his list of accomplishments.