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

January 1
NEPA Enacted (1970)
January 2
Bob Marshall Born (1901)
January 3
Canaveral National Seashore Created (1975)
January 4
The Real James Bond Born (1900)
January 5
National Bird Day
January 6
Wild Kingdom First Airs (1963)
January 7
Gerald Durrell Born (1925)
January 8
Alfred Russel Wallace Born (1823)
January 9
Muir Woods National Monument Created (1908)
January 10
National Houseplant Appreciation Day
January 11
Aldo Leopold Born (1887)
January 12
National Trust of England Established (1895)
January 13
MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady, Born (1935)
January 14
Martin Holdgate Born (1931)
January 15
British Museum Opened (1795)
January 16
Dian Fossey Born (1932)
January 17
Benjamin Franklin, America’s First Environmentalist, Born (1706)
January 18
White Sands National Monument Created (1933)
January 19
Yul Choi, Korean Environmentalist, Born (1949)
January 19
Acadia National Park Established (1929)
January 20
Penguin Appreciation Day
January 21
The Wilderness Society Founded (1935)
January 22
Iraq Sabotages Kuwaiti Oil Fields (1991)
January 23
Sweden Bans CFCs in Aerosols (1978)
January 24
Baden-Powell Publishes “Scouting for Boys” (1908)
January 25
Badlands National Park Established (1939)
January 26
Benjamin Franklin Disses the Bald Eagle (1784)
January 27
National Geographic Society Incorporated (1888)
January 28
Bermuda Petrel, Thought Extinct for 300 Years, Re-discovered (1951)
January 29
Edward Abbey, author of “Desert Solitaire,” Born (1927)
January 30
England Claims Antarctica (1820)
January 31
Stewart Udall, Secretary of Interior, Born (1920)
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