Climate Change: ‘Before the Flood’ by Leonardo DiCaprio

As a fan of biology, I enjoy learning about the ecosystem and definitely believe in climate change.  I’d heard about this documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio, and managed to track down where to watch it free.

It’s right here:

It’s about an hour and a half long and is very informative.  Cleverly explained for the layperson, the documentary covers many areas of earth, from reduction of coral reefs to forests in Indonesia being burned down for palm oil plantations.  It discusses how carbon dioxide and methane lead to global warming and rising sea levels, and how consumers can make simple changes to make a difference, like switching from beef (high methane output and land use) to chicken.


Personally, I do feel that as a human race, we are completely on track to ruining this planet.  I think it’s easy not to take seriously because it’s hard to comprehend how the actions of individuals can have a huge impact on such a huge planet.  But over time and with larger scales of everything that goes hand-in-hand with an ever-increasing world population, the compounded actions of many individuals can have a huge impact.  It’s hard to quantify accurately and seems like an abstract concept, so we don’t bother doing anything about it even though we all know there’s probably at least a grain of truth to it…

It’s like eating the extra biscuit everyday and realising 10 years down the line that you’ve gained 20kg in weight.  Where did that extra weight come from??  Well, it’s probably the 3,650 biscuits you ate.

The climate changes are happening so slowly that we barely notice the impact on a day-to-day or even year-to-basis.  Sure, summers seem to be getting hotter, and sure, there were lots of hurricanes and floods this year compared to last year… these things happen and it all feels normal.

I’m sure that one day in the not-too-distant future, humanity will wake up to some kind of climatic disaster and everyone will be asking ‘where the hell did that come from?’…

And then we’ll realise it’s probably all of that carbon dioxide we’ve been releasing into the atmosphere for decades from burning forests, burning fossil fuels and raising billions of cows that’s increased the temperature causing the melting of ice that raises sea levels and releases more methane… all of those individual actions had an impact after all.

So actions: eat less/no beef/meat, use solar power (I have ordered myself a solar panel and solar powered battery, perhaps I’ll do this on a larger scale one day), encourage renewable energy sources, stop burning forests and stop using fossil fuels.

Hm, this list sounds a bit trite and it doesn’t feel like I’d change the world by doing these things… but imagine if EVERYONE followed these actions – that would probably be a step in the right direction.  Ideally, we need political leaders to make the big changes regarding factories and where our home power comes from, but we can all be aware of the part we play.


Dormant bacteria and viruses are reappearing as climate change affects permafrost

Long-dormant bacteria and viruses, trapped in ice and permafrost for centuries, are reviving as Earth’s climate warms

Throughout history, humans have existed side-by-side with bacteria and viruses. From the bubonic plague to smallpox, we have evolved to resist them, and in response they have developed new ways of infecting us.

We have had antibiotics for almost a century, ever since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. In response, bacteria have responded by evolving antibiotic resistance. The battle is endless: because we spend so much time with pathogens, we sometimes develop a kind of natural stalemate.

However, what would happen if we were suddenly exposed to deadly bacteria and viruses that have been absent for thousands of years, or that we have never met before?

We may be about to find out. Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been frozen for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they are releasing ancient viruses and bacteria that, having lain dormant, are springing back to life.

In August 2016, in a remote corner of Siberian tundra called the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle, a 12-year-old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalised after being infected by anthrax.

The theory is that, over 75 years ago, a reindeer infected with anthrax died and its frozen carcass became trapped under a layer of frozen soil, known as permafrost. There it stayed until a heatwave in the summer of 2016, when the permafrost thawed.

This exposed the reindeer corpse and released infectious anthrax into nearby water and soil, and then into the food supply. More than 2,000 reindeer grazing nearby became infected, which then led to the small number of human cases.

The fear is that this will not be an isolated case.

Read the full BBC article here: