“Climate change is happening now — and humans are responsible. We cannot sit idly by and watch the fossil fuel industry make billions at our collective expense. We must put a price on carbon — now.”
Speaker: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Context: This quote will only seem silly to climate change deniers, the energy industry and the Alberta government — all too often the same thing. It is from comments DiCaprio made last week (right before his trip to Fort Chipewyan in August) to promote a short documentary he narrated called Carbon.
Critics have lashed out at the actor as yet another ignorant do-gooder paying a whirlwind visit to northern Alberta to criticize the oil sands industry. “Like Canadians, we are growing tired of the fad of celebrity environmentalists coming into the region for a few hours or a few days, and offering their ideas and solutions to developing this resource,” said Lee Funke, the former head of the Alberta government’s Public Affairs Bureau, who is now spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Are Canadians tired of celebrity environmentalists? Or are they tired of provincial and federal governments that for years talked about protecting the environment, but allowed the oil sands to grow unfettered to the point that the industry has become the symbol of all that is wrong with burning fossil fuels? Yes, it’s true that when it comes to climate change, coal is the real culprit. But it’s also true that we collectively look defensive and guilty when we get our knickers in a knot whenever a celebrity takes a shot at the oil sands.
And DiCaprio’s critics should take note that his visit came just days before scientists announced that parts of Alberta’s wilderness are being deforested faster than Brazil’s rainforests, placing extreme strain on our caribou herds.