Before The Flood – Leonardo Dicarpio – Preaching to the Choir

If you are someone that is up to date with the recent scientific findings of our climate; say, our climate surpassing 400 CO2 ppm permanently and also aware that the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement ahead G20, then “Before The Flood” is not a game changer documentary for you. Neither for me. Before The Flood is scripted fundamentally to cover the basics of climate change and allowing anyone on the street to understand the current political situation around the issue. If you might be arguing that it’s another documentary that’s preaching to the Choir, let’s not forget that we are talking Leonardo Dicarpio here that has a very different demographic ‘choir’ here.


Injecting Optimism into the Dreading Issue

Honestly, Leonardo seemed to portray an array of pessimism that time is running out for climate change mitigation efforts as he traveled across continents to interview different individuals that are at the frontier of climate change mitigation. The documentary, which trails Leonardo’s journey as a United Nations Peace Messenger, tries to cover a huge range of audience. By putting his documentary visits to China, India, Greenland, Miami Beach, and even Kiribati, an island where its population had purchased a piece of land in Peru to be migrated due to rising sea levels Before The Flood tried to comprehensively paint the picture of climate change into four main messages.

    1. Climate change deniers are fueled by wealthy corporations, mainly from the fossil fuel industry. The documentary briefly went into describing how politicians and Congress are lobbied by fossil fuel companies which hinder the growth of renewable and carbon tax for example. “Merchants of Doubts” is probably a better documentary on this that explains the details of lobbied scientists creating confusion to maintain the status quo of business as usual.
    2. The nations who are getting hit by climate change intensified change in weather patterns and rising sea levels are often the nations that least contributed to the problem. India is struggling to provide essential electricity to its entire population while Americans are enjoying the exploitation of fossil fuel with close to 35 times of carbon footprint per person in comparison to Indian.
    3. The threat is real, and changing a light bulb wouldn’t save the world. Leonardo showed a clip during his younger days in promoting to the public in changing to a more efficient light bulb etc but admits that the toll of the problem we are facing today is to call a complete switch of fossil fuel to renewable energy. I like the part where he stood in front the ocean thermal belt screen with Johan Rockstorm, where it was described that “The Day After Tomorrow” is not a fiction film but totally possible as the Northern Atmosphere steps into an Ice Age.
    4. Technology innovation and people power are the key catalysts to this issue. The documentary tried to tune up the positive node of “everybody can do something together.” By interviewing with familiar faces such as Barack Obama and Elon Musk, Before The Film uses the credibility of known people in motivating the rightful things to be done.

Before The Flood – Full Documentary

Benchmarking Before The Flood

Well for someone that’s been following the climate change issue, Before The Flood is a revised version of The Inconvenient Truth. Much interactive, of course, compared to Al Gore standing in front of a giant screen. But I have to say that the aspect of soundtrack and cinematography can be improved, too much time is being wasted suspense in some field visit shots. But If you ask me what’s the best documentary I have seen so far, that will be undoubtedly Under The Dome. I wrote five reasons why this documentary remains as my preferred documentary. An excellent documentary never fails to give you a paradigm shift in whatever you understand about the issue. It gives a very well-balanced perspective of the issue, unbias, but yet thrilling you for more as you uncover new footage of knowledge like how an investigator learns. And, that’s precisely what Under The Dome is all about, centered upon Chai Jing, an investigative Journalist.

Under The Dome Documentary: Chai Jing’s Documentary on Air Pollution in China

What’s Missing?

I applaud Leonardo’s effort with many others in making this documentary as relative as possible to the huge audience around the world. It visited the rising sea levels threat in Kiribati and Miami Beach; it interviewed the scientific and politician community; it went into understanding China’s people power in rebuking dirty cheap fossil fuels and India’s current state of the energy utility. However, one crucial thing is like what I have always been advocating about, Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency is simply not in the picture at all. By all means, I am against fossil fuel and the full transition to renewable, but there is a quicker way to get there by first using less and saving more on what we can opt to! There’s a saying by means of exergy efficiency that:

It is easier to save one kWh of energy instead of producing one kWh of energy (or in this case, renewable energy)

There are many step down efficiency that electricity is subjected to, for example, current solar panel efficiency in the market is around 23%, then you have the step-down transformer and power grid efficiency, etc.

Figure 1 Energy Pyramid

Energy Efficiency is always the Missing Picture

Sad truth. Be it government energy policy, or incentive scheme to push for it, only because it doesn’t make anyone money perhaps compared to a new renewable energy industry. This happens even when I give lectures to students, and there will always be an instant that there will be a rooftop place conveniently designed for solar panels, but before even improving the building design to minimize the heating load for example, so you can save Air Conditioning, etc. It’s a hard truth that solar panels seem more display friendly than energy efficiency. And, Before The Flood just missed this whole part out and fed on the wow factor of renewables such as talking to Elon Musk on his solar projects and India’s Renewable Dream.

More about my entries on Energy Efficiency HERE