By: Schondra Aytch
When most people think of Leonardo Dicaprio, they imagine the fresh-faced heartthrob that stole America’s heart as Jack Dawson in 1997’s “Titanic” or the vengeful survivalist in “The Revenant”, which won him an overdue Oscar at last year’s Academy Awards. Besides DiCaprio’s win being the most tweeted Oscar moment in history, he used his time in the spotlight to warn everyone of Global Warming. Since then, DiCaprio’s philanthropy and activism has taken center stage in his career. Working with politicians and scientist alike to raise awareness on environmental issues, the Oscar winner has used his fame and talent to sustain a better future.
Just after his box office success in “Titanic,” the actor founded The Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation, an organization dedicated to the “health and well-being of all Earth’s inhabitants.” Since then, DiCaprio has used the non-profit to fund programs that support wildlife, climate change and innovation. With over 80 million dollars granted to environmental initiatives since its inception, the foundation recently made headlines with its largest donation of $20 million to over 100 organizations as environmental grants.
DiCaprio’s active involvement in the scientific community has made him a powerful figure among influential environment groups. Sitting on the council of several organizations from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Leonardo DiCaprio has used his alliances to push public awareness. From National Geographic to the United Nations, DiCaprio has spoken at countless events, also using protesting and petitions to gain more attention on environmental issues. Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State College who spoke with the actor about climate change, expressed his optimism for the future because of DiCaprio’s dedication.
“I was truly impressed by Leo. He follows the issue closely, reads up about it quite a bit… and he understands the nuances of the issues involved.” Mann shared with the Guardian.
With so many social issues at odds in the White House, DiCaprio has not been afraid to promote environmental activism with key politicians. In a highly publicized meeting last December, the A-list actor met with President Donald Trump to propose an economic strategy that would increase our renewable energy industry and provide countless jobs to the American people. He’s also been a participator in many of Former Vice President, Al Gore’s initiatives to raise awareness on climate change. In an effort to reach the public directly, DiCaprio has also created a large social media presence around his foundation to give timely news updates on environmental issues around the world.
DiCaprio has also produced two short films, including two full length documentaries on the environment. “Before The Flood,” DiCaprio’s most recent film follows his three-year journey across the world to document the present effects of climate change. During his documentary release in London, he shared this thought during the introduction.
“There was a lot to take in. All that we witnessed on this journey shows us that our world’s climate is incredibly interconnected and that it is at urgent breaking point. … We wanted to create a film that gave people a sense of urgency that made them understand what particular things are going to solve this problem.”
DiCaprio’s dedication and determination for protecting the environment has essentially been motivated by urgency. With over 200 projects in 50 countries it is evident that he won’t stop until there are major changes made to sustain a healthier and resourceful future. With renewable energy and innovation becoming a larger part of the conversation, conservation is the Oscar winner’s biggest goal.
DiCaprio told Rolling Stone last year, “I am consumed by this. There isn’t a couple of hours a day where I’m not thinking about it. It’s this slow burn. It’s not ‘aliens invading our planet next week and we have to get up and fight to defend our country,’ but it’s this inevitable thing, and it’s so terrifying.”