ZEN+ : Helping you Stay Young and Age Well

Before The Flood – My notes…

By Marcus Santer

At the end of last week I received an email from Kimchi, one of my awesome ZEN+ Journal readers.

In it was a link to a documentary by National Geographic and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio.

My initial reaction was: “Meh, maybe I’ll get around to this later…”

But this line of Kimchi’s really grabbed my attention:

“NEVER underestimate the power of individual actions to accumulate to REAL changes for OUR world”

So I clicked the link, sat back and started watching.

In less than 10 minutes I realised this was very much worth my time.

And when anything is worth my time, I take notes.

So I restarted the film, armed with my trusty notepad and pen and got to work.

The film is only 95 minutes long, but with my note taking it took me about 4 hours to watch =)

Below, you’ll find my notes, where possible I’ve included the name of the person who made the quote, but not always. Just assume none of this is mine and it’s all from somewhere in the film.

And if you get the chance – Watch the film for yourself (there’s a youtube version at the end of this post, but I don’t know for how long it will be available).


Well I’ll use one of the lines from near the end of the film, where Leonardo is giving a speech at a UN meeting:

“You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them. You are the last, best hope of earth.”

Here are my notes:

Climate change is coming much, much faster, we have seen such extreme weather patterns.”
Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General of the United Nations

Our energy is based on fossil fuels and as these resources get scarcer, the methods used to get them is more invasive – fracking for gas, mountain top removal for coal – involving mass deforestation and damage to the environment.

There is no clean fossil fuel.

Almost everything we do releases CO2 (Carbon dioxide) and that leads to climate change, the polar icecaps will start to melt, the seas will start to rise, more dangerous weather patterns, floods, wild fires – it’s happening right now.

The Artic is like the air conditioning for the Northern Hemisphere. When it goes away, it’s going to change ocean currents, weather patterns, floods and droughts will become more catastrophic.

16 years ago the drive was to make personal change to reduced our impact on the climate, things like change your light bulbs for example. But we’re way beyond that point now.

Climate models are too conservative to keep up with what’s actually happening.

In Miami, they’ve spent $400 million on a city wide project to raise roads and put in pumps to reduce flooding. Taxes had to be raised to fund it. It’ll only buy Miami 40 to 50 years.

Why is there so much opposition against the science? Politics.

“But the ocean is not Republican or Democrat, all it knows how to do is rise.”
Philip Levine – Mayor, Miami Beach

Climate Change Deniers: Satellite data from the last 17 years shows no significant recording of warming

“there is as robust a consensus on human caused climate change as there is for any matter in science… 97 percent of climate scientists agree the globe is warming, the climate is changing, it’s due to fossil fuel burning and other activities. Unfortunately we’re fighting this massive disinformation campaign to confuse the public.”
Dr Michael E. Mann

Dr Mann received serious death threats when he revealed his findings to the public.

“If you actually believe that global warming is the biggest problem we face… You’re the dumbest son of a bitch on the planet.”
Glenn Beck

** The problem is the speed at which the changes in climate are happening – from a separate Bill Nye video **

** “Every great scientific truth goes through three phases. First people deny it, second they say it conflicts with the Bible, third they say they’ve known it all along.” Neil Degrasse Tyson, from a separate source **

Here’s Dr Michael Mann talking:

“These folk know they don’t have to win a legitimate scientific debate, they just need to divide the public”

Climate change denilism – “They find people with impressive credentials who are willing to sell those credentials to fossil fuel interests.”

“We can’t get a climate bill passed through congress because it’s controlled by fossil fuel funded deniers (there are 131 climate deniers in congress) that are blocking any bills that would attempt to deal with this problem.”

“These people are paid to lead us astray in the name of short term fossil fuel profits.”

My Comment: Listening to this section reminded me of the way the tobacco industry deliberately skewed scientific knowledge by presenting findings in a misleading way, withholding certain findings and promoting false evidence of doubt in the scientific consensus about the harms of tobacco.


China is heavily reliant on fossil fuels but is rapidly making a shift towards renewable energy sources.

But what about other less developed countries like India? The worlds’s third larges emitter but it’s struggling with power shortages and blackouts.

300, 000, 000 (three hundred million) people in India are without electricity, without light. That’s equivalent to the entire population of the USA. Many use ‘Cow pat’ cakes and burn them as their only source of energy.

In one village in India, they got 1/2 a years rainfall in five hours which destroyed all their crops.

What is the right thing to do? What actions can we take?

The billion of people world wide want the lifestyle the US has enjoyed for the last 100 years, we all have a responsibility to set an example and help the developing world transition before it’s too late.

“Islands in the pacific are a paradise in peril.”
Anote Tong President of Kiribati

They contribute the least to climate change, but are gong to be the first to experience the damages of it.

It’s not just the ocean levels rising, it’s also pollution knocking down fragile underwater ecosystems and destroying 2 billion years of evolution.

1 billion people rely on fish from coral reefs for all their protein and loss of these ecosystems is causing starvation.

Oceans act like a buffer, taking up about 1/3 of the CO2 pumped into the atmosphere. But we’re overloading the ocean with the increasing rate of emissions and it simply can’t cope.

Rainforests also absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and keep us safe.

Until of course we cut them all down and set them on fire. Forest fires release massive carbon emissions back into the atmosphere.

The three big rain forest areas left in the world are:

  1. Amazon – South America
  2. Congo Basin – Africa
  3. S.E.Asia – Includes Indonesia

Fires are deliberately being set in Indonesia to clear space to grow palm oil. It’s the cheapest form of vegetable oil in the world. It ends up in cooking oils, refined foods, cosmetics and detergents. It’s a cheap product making companies like:

Immense profits.

Palm oil plantations have taken over 80 percent of Indonesia’s rainforest. Corruption allows companies to get permits to destroy the forest.

My Comment: I visited the rain forest of northern Sumatra back in 1994. I was fortunate enough to take a trek into the ‘jungle’ and see orang-utans in their natural environment. It was a breath taking experience and I find it disturbing how much rainforest has been deliberately destroyed since then simply to make more money.

The easiest thing you can do is to start making a difference to your diet.

Here’s notes from the talk with Gidon Eshel, PHD…

The foremost reason for deforestation is beef.

In the US 47 percent of land is used for food production, but 70 percent of that is used to grow feed for cattle.

Only 1 percent of farmed land is used for growing things we eat like fruit, veg and nuts.

Cows produce a lot methane, CH4 and every molecule of CH4 is equivalent to 23 molecules of CO2.

1/2 lb burger =

Beef requires 50 times as much land as rice, potato or wheat.


“It seems inevitable that we are heading towards some level of harm.”
Elon Musk

“A carbon tax would put a charge on any kind of activity that put carbon into the atmosphere.”
Gregory Mankiw

When you increase the price of something you reduce the demand for it – this is economics 101. Tax was placed on cigarettes and consumption dropped.

Climate change has a number of negative side effects and costs, including:

By 2060 climate change is estimated to cost tax payers $44 trillion USD.

Trying to appeal to people’s sense of social responsibility is hard because people have complicated lives. They can’t think about climate change with every decision they make. Carbon tax will nudge people into doing the right thing for the environment.

A carbon tax would allow other taxes to be removed, it would be a tax shift not a tax increase.

A huge amount of the worlds population live near oceans, climate change will create climate refugees and disputes over resources like water: It’s happening today.

“We’re starting to hit the ceiling on what the planet can cope with. We are on average moving towards 4 degree C warmer this century and we haven’t been a 4 degree C warmer world for the past 4 million years.”
Johan Rockström

We’re approaching a tipping point where earth takes over and starts reinforcing warming. Greenland for the first time is melting on its entire surface, and instead of being a cooler becomes a self heater, simply because of the colour change on the land.

Methane stuck under frozen permafrost starts getting released which warms the planet up even more.

We are reaching a point of no return.

Denmark, some days, produces over 100 percent of its electricity needs from wind – totally renewable.

Sweden has declared it will become the first fossil fuel free nation.

The problem with the Paris Climate Conference is that you have to take on faith that the over 90 countries represented will do what they say.

But is that realistic?

The changing climate “isn’t just an environmental issue, it’s a national security issue.” Barack Obama

Can we survive the kind of strains (on resources) that scientists are predicting?

Melting water from Greenland is pouring into the convert belt of the Gulf Stream. Slowing it down and eventually could stop the transfer of heat from the tropics to Europe. (Reminds me of the plot from a Clive Cussler novel, but I can’t remember which one…) Europe would get very cold. It’s one of the big misconceptions about climate change, that everything will get warm.

That facts are crystal clear:

Even the Pope has encouraged his followers to accept the science on climate change.

Can we change our course in time?

We will either be lauded by future generations for what we do now or vilified by them.

Step to take:

Consume Differently

Vote for leaders who will fight climate change by:

You can discover your climate impact and how to offset it by visiting: Carbotax.org

Learn more and take action at: BeforeTheFlood.com

I watched the film for free, but it seems it’s being removed as of the 7th November. I found a copy on the National Geographic’s youtube page and for as long as it works…

You can watch the film below:

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