In A Grain of Sand – Battling Global Warming with Global Recognition

Dahlia Rizk

In the midst of all the moving in, the leadership training and the early trips to the Bookstore, you may have caught sight of something green, coming to a theater near you. That something is The 11th Hour, a new environmental documentary produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

After watching the previews for An Inconvenient Truth, seeing the movie, watching Al Gore speak at the Oscars and renting the DVD at Blockbuster, I approached “The 11th Hour” with some hesitation. Was I to expect the same 90 preachy minutes of do-or-die?

However, I was sure of DiCaprio’s sincerity in making the documentary, and that it wasn’t just another vehicle for his stardom. Ever since that ship he was on collided with an iceberg chipped off a melting glacier, DiCaprio has been one of the most visible celebrities raising awareness about global warming and environmental causes. He narrates and makes only a brief appearance, so as to not distract from the real situation at hand: the state of the world we live in.

Throughout the film, the situation was communicated bluntly through hard-hitting statements like: “Our biosphere is sick. We are ultimately committing suicide,” and “If we don’t change what we are doing, we will lose a half or a third of all forms of life this century.” So in the end I got my answer. The film was indeed 90 preachy minutes of do-or-die, which were hoping to either scare me into action or convince me that I must do whatever Leo tells me to because Leo is always right.

The film provoked me to consider means, other than media, that could grab people’s attention and convince them that the situation really is dire. Ever since the 1992 Earth Summit conference in Rio de Janeiro, the issue of global warming is gaining more attention, not just on the global stage, but also in domestic discourse. For example, solving the global warming issue was high on the agenda of the French presidential elections this past May. But clearly there is still work to be done, much more than what films like The 11th Hour and An Inconvenient Truth are directly capable of.

But equally important is that most people who look at the issue of global warming see it as a problem of the environment, with melting ice caps and shrinking rain forests, instead of a result of our own lifestyles. Instead of recognizing our interconnectedness, we view humans as a separate entity from nature. We look at all the fur coats in the latest issue of Vogue and see that as having nothing to do with global warming.

And while The 11th Hour tries to change that perception, I wonder what other results this film will see besides Leo getting a standing ovation at the next Academy Awards.