Leonardo DiCaprio Born (1974)

Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the world’s most famous actors and also a fervent environmentalist, was born November 11, 1974.  Over the past two decades, DiCaprio has used his celebrity fame to bring attention—intense attention—to the world’s major environmental issues, especially climate change.

DiCaprio was born and raised in Los Angeles.  He claims that from his first memories he was captured by an environmental image.  His parents hung a poster of a famous painting over his crib—Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.  The painting represents the beauty and largess of Eden, followed by the disastrous fate of Adam and Eve and their descendants for not nurturing it.  Over the years, he came to understand the painting as a metaphor for the environmental damage that humans were causing to the earth.

DiCaprio has gone on to enormous success as an actor, of course, winning the 2016 Oscar for Best Actor and becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws.  But, he asserts, love of nature and concern for the environment have always been part of his true persona. “I remember the thing that I got the most sad about when I was little was the loss of species that have been as a result of mankind’s intrusion on nature,” he told Rolling Stone Magazine.

He got serious about making a difference after a meeting with former Vice-President Al Gore.  In 1998, he created the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation “with the mission of protecting the world’s last wild places.”  Today the foundation works across a range of environmental issues, including protected areas and climate change.  It has given more than $80 million in grants (at least $30 million of DiCaprio’s own money) to projects in 50 nations.  His social-media presence on environmental matters reaches more than 50 million people.  In 2007, he wrote, produced and narrated a feature-length documentary, The 11th Hour, in which he interviews world leaders on environmental issues.

For his work, DiCaprio has been designated a UN Messenger of Peace for Climate Change and won the Clinton Global Citizen Award.  He serves on the board of the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other groups.

DiCaprio says that he is “consumed by [environmental issues].  There isn’t a couple of hours a day where I’m not thinking about it.  It’s not ‘aliens invading our planet next week,’ but it’s this inevitable thing, and it’s so terrifying,” he told Rolling Stone.  Amid that fear, however, he works to stay optimistic.  He continues to use his acting fame as access to people with the power to make positive change.  For example, he was present at the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, recognizing the treaty as a positive step toward a sustainable future without reliance on fossil fuels.

References:

Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.  About Us.  Available at:  https://www.leonardodicaprio.org/about/.  Accessed November 10, 2017.

Rodrick, Stephen.  2016.  Inside Leonardo DiCaprio’s Crusade to Save the World.  Rolling Stone Magazine, February 18, 2016.  Available at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/features/inside-leonardo-dicaprios-crusade-to-save-the-world-20160218#ixzz41ZKd1Lf7.  Accessed November 10, 2017.

World Wildlife Fund.  Leonardo DiCaprio.  Available at: https://www.worldwildlife.org/leaders/leonardo-dicaprio.  Accessed November 10, 2017.

This Month in Conservation

February 1
Afobaka Dam and Operation Gwamba (1964)
February 2
Groundhog Day
February 3
George Adamson, African Lion Rehabilitator, Born (1906)
February 4
Congress Overrides President Reagan’s Veto of Clean Water Act (1987)
February 5
National Wildlife Federation Created (1936)
February 6
Colin Murdoch, Inventor of the Tranquilizer Gun, Born (1929)
February 7
Karl August Mobius, Ecology Pioneer, Born (1825)
February 8
President Johnson Addresses Congress about Conservation (1965)
February 8
Lisa Perez Jackson, Environmental Leader, Born (1982)
February 9
U.S. Fish Commission Created (1871)
February 10
Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet, born (1944)
February 11
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 12
Judge Boldt Affirms Native American Fishing Rights (1974)
February 13
Thomas Malthus Born (1766)
February 14
Nature’s Faithful Lovers
February 15
Complete Human Genome Published (2001)
February 16
Alvaro Uglade, Father of Costa Rica’s National Parks, Born (1946)
February 16
Kyoto Protocol, Controlling Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, Begins (2005)
February 17
R. A. Fischer, Statistician, Born (1890)
February 18
Julia Butterfly Hill, Tree-Sitter, Born (1974)
February 19
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial Established (1962)
February 20
Ansel Adams, Nature Photographer, Born (1902)
February 21
Carolina Parakeet Goes Extinct (1918)
February 22
Nile Day
February 23
Italy’s Largest Inland Oil Spill (2010)
February 24
Joseph Banks, British Botanist, Born (1743)
February 25
First Federal Timber Act Passed (1799)
February 26
Four National Parks Established (1917-1929)
February 27
International Polar Bear Day
February 28
Watson and Crick Discover The Double Helix (1953)
February 29
Nature’s Famous Leapers
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