Planet Earth’s Warning Call

Dalai-Lama-EnvironmentPlanet Earth’s Warning Call

Watch the following trailers of documentaries on our Planet and our impact on the natural environment. Write your personal response in the Padlet: Which trailer caught your attention most? Why? Which one do you find most effective in raising people’s awareness of the need to take action to safeguard and protect our environment? What are the concerns that are expressed by these documentaries. Why are there more and more political leaders and celebrities (Al Gore, Leonardo Di Caprio, Jeremy Irons) who want to become the ambassadors of planet Earth?

An Inconvenient Truth: Why this title? What does it mean? How would you paraphrase it?

You may find this link interesting to further investigate the issues at stake in this documentary.

The 11th Hour: What does this expression mean?

The official film website provides you with more interesting information.

What further information are you being provided with by the following message? Di Caprio himself reveals the meaning of the title. What are we urgently invited to reflect upon? How should we take action?

Trashed: what is the other issue that is dealt with in this documentary?

Once again, the official film webpage can result to be of interest for extra suggestions or information.

Now have a go at the Padlet

Now I would like you to listen to Leonardo Di Caprio’s Speech at the United Nations. The text under the video may help you focus on certain passages. I would like you to write down what strikes you most of his speech (choice of words, body language, the way he delivers his speech, the way he emphasises certain words or he creates pauses). What is the urgent message he is addressing to the UN Assembly? What are his demands/expectations? If you were invited to give your own speech at the United Nations, what would your strategy be? What would your catch phrase be? What would you emphasise?

Thank you, Mr Secretary General, your excellencies, ladies and gentleman, and distinguished guests. I’m honored to be here today, I stand before you not as an expert but as a concerned citizen, one of the 400,000 people who marched in the streets of New York on Sunday, and the billions of others around the world who want to solve our climate crisis.
As an actor I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters often solving fictitious problems.
I believe humankind has looked at climate change in that same way: as if it were a fiction, happening to someone else’s planet, as if pretending that climate change wasn’t real would somehow make it go away.
But I think we know better than that. Every week, we’re seeing new and undeniable climate events, evidence that accelerated climate change is here now. We know that droughts are intensifying, our oceans are warming and acidifying, with methane plumes rising up from beneath the ocean floor. We are seeing extreme weather events, increased temperatures, and the West Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheets melting at unprecedented rates, decades ahead of scientific projections.
None of this is rhetoric, and none of it is hysteria. It is fact. The scientific community knows it, Industry and governments know it, even the United States military knows it. The chief of the US navy’s Pacific command, admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat.
My Friends, this body – perhaps more than any other gathering in human history – now faces that difficult task. You can make history … or be vilified by it.
To be clear, this is not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid car. This disaster has grown BEYOND the choices that individuals make. This is now about our industries, and governments around the world taking decisive, large-scale action.
I am not a scientist, but I don’t need to be. Because the world’s scientific community has spoken, and they have given us our prognosis, if we do not act together, we will surely perish.
Now is our moment for action.
We need to put a pricetag on carbon emissions, and eliminate government subsidies for coal, gas, and oil companies. We need to end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given in the name of a free-market economy, they don’t deserve our tax dollars, they deserve our scrutiny. For the economy itself will die if our ecosystems collapse.
The good news is that renewable energy is not only achievable but good economic policy. New research shows that by 2050 clean, renewable energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs using existing technologies, and it would create millions of jobs.
This is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation – if, admittedly, a daunting one.
We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.
This is the most urgent of times, and the most urgent of messages.
Honoured delegates, leaders of the world, I pretend for a living. But you do not. The people made their voices heard on Sunday around the world and the momentum will not stop. And now it’s YOUR turn, the time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet … is now.
I beg you to face it with courage. And honesty. Thank you.

If on the one hand there are famous people who become spokespeople for a better future, celebrities who endorse the struggle against climate change, on the other hand there are young people, institutions and organizations who believe in taking action for mankind and planet Earth. Their words are as powerful as the words of stars or powerful people. Their words resonate and echo in the future. Watch these videos. What strategy do they use to raise the viewers’ awareness and to sensitize them to their cause? Discuss in groups. Then think of what images, refrains, catchphrases you could use in your own video. Would you use your own voices? Would you show your faces? Would you use photos or snatches of videos? Would you use a soundtrack?


There are different means used by institutions to fight for a cause. Videos are shot, messages are endorsed by popular people or commoners, or there is the use of social advertising. Do you find social advertising effective? Ineffective? Why (not)? Should governments invest more money on social advertising campaigns to be broadcast on tv or on printed advertising to be printed in magazines/newspapers or put on hoardings along streets or roads.

If you happen to find other interesting examples of social ads, please share them by posting the link in the comment space below.

Now click on sticky moose and let me/us know the ad you liked most? In class you will say why.

http://stickymoose.com/QUXheE7POmd2o5j

While surfing the net after interesting videos for you to watch, I came across this short film by Morgan Freeman. I found it pleasant and powerful at the same time and I would like to know what you think of it yourself.

I would like to conclude this learning path dedicated to the much-debated issue of climate change with a creative writing activity. I invite you to watch the marvellous short film by Werner Herzog, which invites us to look at the world through the “eyes” of a plastic bag. He drags us into an imaginary but realistic journey. You become that plastic bag, what are your emotions? How do you feel? What would you like to say? Let us hear your words, write a poem, choose the title and then post it on the Padlet below so that your classmates can appreaciate your poem.


Feedback. Take a few seconds to say whether you apprecaited this post or not.

http://stickymoose.com/O3qia115LIB1TPD

Questa voce è stata pubblicata in Debating issues. Contrassegna il permalink.

14 risposte a Planet Earth’s Warning Call

  1. Chiara Tosi scrive:

    I really liked Leonardo Di Caprio’s speech, and not only because I love him as actor.
    He had to alert politicians about the situation of the climate of our world, of the dangers that the changes are unleashing on our planet and our lives.
    He used an impact strategy to support his arguments, his calm in saying things was magnetic and the audience can not take their eyes off him, then, for the duration of the whole speech, he never stopped looking people straight in the eyes, they were like hypnotized by his look, with which he communicated them something he could not express verbally. His confident bearing is another aspect that stroke me, he was at ease on the stage, and this made what he was saying more convincing, people could trust him.
    Then his tone of voice, the way the emphasized some words, the most important, to reach people’s minds and, linked to this aspect, the pauses he did during the speech. The audience had the time to reflect on what he had just said and think of the words he had emphasized. Then I think that also the fact he used scientific terms underlines the fact that before it has documented and concerned about the topic.
    I really appreciated that he made a comparison between his job (as actor, he had a role in a documentary about the climate that is changing and the disasters of our planet), and the politicians one. He said that his job consists in pretending, he has to pretending if he wants to do his job well, whereas politicians have to understand that they are not pretending, they are working to make our lives better and they don’t have to take their role as a game.
    Di Caprio said also that we are underestimating the problems that our planet has, and now is not just a matter of what we should do everyday to save energy, it is something bigger, that has to be solved seriously by our politicians.
    So he is asking them to act, they have to solve the problems and not to pretend they doesn’t exist, because now is their turn and they have to understand how fundamental they are to change the destiny of our planet.
    If I were invited to talk to the US nations about this theme, I think first I would get documented and try to write something to reach my audience’s mind. In front of them, I would watch them right in their eyes, just like Di Caprio did, and emphasize the most important words changing the tone of my voice. I would make references to daily situations, but even catastrophic disasters that everyone remembers to make real and concrete examples of what I am talking about. I would also use scientific terms and specific words to make my speech more credible and professional.
    I think I would also invent some phrases to catch my audience’s attention, something like “The world is in our hands”, or “The answer is us” or “Our planet needs us”.
    I would emphasize which the problems are, maybe making them more catastrophic using strong adjectives. But even which could be the solutions, what we as people would have to do, and what politicians would have to do, just as even Leonardo Di Caprio pointed out.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Thank you for these considerations of yours. I appreciated them. I agree with you that if you show “catastrophic” images you have a very powerful impact on your audience and you catch their attention, you rivet them. Yet, as you observe, you need to offer solutions too, because you do not want to plunge your viewers into a stage of hopeless desperation, that would not be the desired response to your talk/speech, would it?

  2. Sofia Carbonera scrive:

    What has striked me most of the speech of Leonardo Di Caprio was how he delivered it, he is an actor and as an actor he has pronounced every single word with a right tone of voice, with the pauses at the right moment. He has not used a lot the non-verbal communication ( for example he has not moved his hands, that in a speech is really important) but just how he has moved his eyes, looking at the faces of all the people present, he has been able to render his words powerful. His words create a strong message against global pollution, pointing out the alarming situation of the climate crisis. He has asked to governments and industries around the world to take action against this pollution because, he said, a single man can’t do anything but together we can save our world. He expect that we put a price tag on carbon emissions, and eliminate government subsidies for coal, gas, and oil companies. If I was invited to give a speech to the United Nations I would rely on my confidence in speaking and I would use my body to contribute in bringing my message. Than I would emphasize the difference between what can a single man (like me) does and what can the most important people of the all nations in the world do together.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Each person can contribute to curtailing the problem of climate change, you as a woman too. Think of what we did in class today, that is analysing and measuring our carbon footprint (http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/) and learning from the tips we are given to reduce it. You mention being struck by Di Caprio’s use of the voice and the way he powerfully conveys his message. You would ask the assembly members to listen to your speech by using Di Caprio’s persuasive debate skills. This site is really interesting:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/election_2010/8619277.stm

  3. Chiara Tosi scrive:

    I really liked Leonardo Di Caprio’s speech, and not only because I love him as actor.
    He had to alert politicians about the situation of the climate of our world, of the dangers that the changes are unleashing on our planet and our lives.
    He used an impact strategy to support his arguments, his calm in saying things was magnetic and the audience cannot take their eyes off him, then, for the duration of the whole speech, he never stopped looking people straight in the eyes, they were like hypnotized by his look, with which he communicated them something he could not express verbally. His confident bearing is another aspect that stroke me, he was at ease on the stage, and this made what he was saying more convincing, people could trust him.
    Then his tone of voice, the way the emphasized some words, the most important, to reach people’s minds and, linked to this aspect, the pauses he did during the speech. The audience had the time to reflect on what he had just said and think of the words he had emphasized. Then I think that also the fact he used scientific terms underlines the fact that before it has documented and concerned about the topic.
    I really appreciated that he made a comparison between his job (as actor, he had a role in a documentary about the climate that is changing and the disasters of our planet), and the politicians one. He said that his job consists in pretending, he has to pretending if he wants to do his job well, whereas politicians have to understand that they are not pretending, they are working to make our lives better and they don’t have to take their role as a game.
    Di Caprio said also that we are underestimating the problems that our planet has, and now is not just a matter of what we should do every day to save energy, it is something bigger, that has to be solved seriously by our politicians.
    So he is asking them to act, they have to solve the problems and not to pretend they doesn’t exist, because now is their turn and they have to understand how fundamental they are to change the destiny of our planet.
    If I were invited to talk to the US nations about this theme, I think first I would get documented and try to write something to reach my audience’s mind. In front of them, I would watch them right in their eyes, just like Di Caprio did, and emphasize the most important words changing the tone of my voice. I would make references to daily situations, but even catastrophic disasters that everyone remembers to make real and concrete examples of what I am talking about. I would also use scientific terms and specific words to make my speech more credible and professional.
    I think I would also invent some phrases to catch my audience’s attention, something like “The world is in our hands”, or “The answer is us” or “Our planet needs us”.
    I would emphasize which the problems are, maybe making them more catastrophic using strong adjectives. But even which could be the solutions, what we as people would have to do, and what politicians would have to do, just as even Leonardo Di Caprio pointed out.

  4. Sara Foresto scrive:

    Leonardo Di Caprio in his speech addressed to the UN Assembly an urgent message, that is the need of protection of our planet, we have to act, we have to safeguard it because we get only one planet. He encouraged us to face facts because we are, he said, pretending like he pretend for a living, that climate change was happening to someone else’s planet. But we do not have to. The fate of our earth and our very existence are in our hands. Our planet is falling down.
    Therefore he demands us to roll up our sleeves and take action. For example putting a price tag on carbon emissions, eliminating government subsidies for coal gas and oil companies, scrutinize industrial polluters. We have to promote renewable energy because it is not only achievable but even a good economic policy, moreover it would create millions of jobs. We have to fight for clean water and a livable climate, to which we are entitled.
    I really like what Leonardo Di Caprio said and I appreciate even the way he did it, using for example significant pauses or the way he uses the body language to emphasize some concepts. And if I were invited to give my own speech at the UN, first I would apply to the citizens like me, because I think that listen to a speech made by a normal person is maybe more comfortable than listen it from an authority or a celebrity. Because nowadays we used to listen to politicians, celebrities, religious people and in most cases we get angry with them because we don’t see results or revolutions ,and although I believe that to achieve a result we all have to put in more, and we all have to want certain changes, I think that the presence of a normal person at the UN Assembly maybe would involve people to listen and motivated them to act. Furthermore I think that I would use the body language too and I would even speak a little bit louder. To draw people’s attention I would use a sentence that I’ve heard from Barack Obama’s speech that is : we are the first generation to feel impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. Then I would emphasize the fact of animal’s extinction and the problem of immigration.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      I like your reference to Barack Obama and also to the issue of some animals on the brink of extinction.

      “Part of what’s unique about climate change, though, is the nature of some of the opposition to action. It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist. When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it; it was going to be too expensive, it was going to be too hard, it would take too long. But nobody ignored the science. I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese.”
      — U.S. President Barack Obama, UC Irvine Commencement Address, June 14, 2014

      Another interesting quote:
      One of the big questions in the climate change debate: Are humans any smarter than frogs in a pot? If you put a frog in a pot and slowly turn up the heat, it won’t jump out. Instead, it will enjoy the nice warm bath until it is cooked to death. We humans seem to be doing pretty much the same thing.
      Jeff Goodell

  5. Chiara Turchet scrive:

    Leonardo Di Caprio’s Speech at the United Nations
    Listening to a speech at the United Nations always strikes impressive and extraordinary emotions and a sense of admiration too, because I realize that it is the possibility of the life: you can speak to the people that represent the world and explain your own point of view, your ideas and opinions. They are heard from all the world and maybe they will somehow help to find the solution of a problem or simply stimulate the reflection or a more careful examination of it.

    So the fact that I wanted to mark was the great excitement that a person would fell in that situation, and Leonardo Di Caprio, maybe thanks to his job, managed to hide his strong emotion with a clear, concise and heartfelt speech. I appreciated it a lot. Even if somebody wouldn’t have known him, he would have certainly understood he was an actor because his body language, the tone of voice and the pauses he did were all well arranged, natural and not mechanical. The speech was not too long and really well structured. He faced all the main points of the problem of the climate crisis: he explained the real and recent facts happened to the planet, the feedback of the governments to the problem, his thoughts and his solutions. He used simple words and short and incisive sentences. His body language wasn’t too exaggerated, but moderate: sometimes he used his hands to emphasize come concepts, to persuade more the audience or he moved his head from side to side of the hall. What caught my attention the most were his eyes, because it seemed that he could stare in the eyes everyone all the time. He created a special connection with the people and I felt myself involved in what he was saying. His tone was strong and determined and I could really understood he was entirely convinced of the things he thought. I like the fact he presented himself first of all as a citizen because he demonstrated a great sense of humility and that is not so trivial. He spoke with calm, honesty and firmness, his face was quite serious because of the important issue he was facing, but his words revealed a great sensitivity, humanity and individual responsibility. He was there because he felt compelled to do something, to raise awareness among the people who should and could do that something for the world. He showed them the real harsh truth and he required them to face it assertively.

    I liked several sentences in the speech and also the way he emphasized them with the pauses he did. I love a sentence at the end that is : “Honoured delegates, leaders of the world, I pretend for a living. But you do not.” With the expression “I pretend living ” he referred to his job of actor, where he has to play different characters in fantastic contexts facing invented problems, while the leaders of the world have to face every day real problems that involve the whole humanity, so they cannot ignore them, they cannot ignore the humanity. He started with “Honoured delegates, leaders of the world” and this highlights more their importance in the world and their power to change things: they are not only ordinary citizens, but they also have a decisive role on the destiny. This claim of responsibility to the public is also contained in the sentence “You can make history … or be vilified by it.” I find that sentence really powerful and rhetorically very strong. It marks the fact that they have the “power of change” and they can decide how and when use it.

    And I think the moment has come: “And now it’s YOUR turn, the time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet … is now. “ , “Now is our moment for action.”.

    Di Caprio also highlights a point that I find really important, the collaboration between the community: ”…if we do not act together, we will surely perish.” Why do we find so hard working for a same purpose? I understand it is difficult reach an agreement on these important problems but we are talking about our lives, our future, our world. I think this is enough to make us cooperate and work together. It is our duty.

    If I had the possibility to be invited at the United Nations to give my own speech, I would try my best to catch the attention of the audience and to use simple and sensitive words. I wouldn’t focus myself to explain the problem itself because, being at the United Nations with the leaders of the world I think they don’t need clarifications on the issue, but I would touch the emotional part : I would try more to sensitize them and to encourage more reflections on the planet and its situation, because it deserves it. I would use a lot my body language, above all my hands because I think they are a great way to create a bond between the speaker and the audience; I would meet the eyes of everyone during the speech and I would use a tone of voice really calm and firm, even if I would feel nervous and excited. I think I would bring at the meeting testimonials of several people like boys, children, seniors, workers of different fields, to witness their own world view and their possible solutions to the climate crisis. I would do that not, obviously, to realize practical and concrete projects of solution to the problem, but to ensure that the United Nations keep in mind their goal: make world and the people they live in happy.

    And I think the main thing to reach that happiness is the love for our own planet. So finally I want to say that what our world is sending us is a demand for true love. And when you love someone or something, you stop seeing with your own eyes to see through the other ones.
    Then fall in love with the planet, so you can see the devastation he holds through its own eyes and you can help it to heal forever! This is I what I would say.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Chiara your words, your speech would definitely have an impact upon the UN delegates. You will definitely make a change in this world, my special young woman. I wish there were many more women like you.

  6. Caylyn scrive:

    Last year in my AP Language Composition (english) class, we studied the art of rhetoric, particularly as it pertained to public speaking. Di Caprio did a truly phenomenal job of applying many great tactics orators have found effective. He not only speaks excellently clear, enunciating his words, but he addresses his audience well. Yes, they are a highly educated panel of people (the UN assembly), but his message is not over the public’s head. In other words, you and I can understand what he is both addressing, and advocating for. After his initial recognition of current problems; pollution, global warming, etc. (imploring the use of factual statistics and expert testimony), he gets down to the real backbone of what we’re going to do about it. The crude facts are necessary to build up his credibility, but I enjoyed most the persuasive tone he assumed; it warned his audience that this is no joke- he is serious. The United Nations likely receives many numbers and figures about world problems, but if they aren’t accompanied by a face, something that makes it feel real, then what’s the use? Di Caprio is an excellent representation; he is the face of the call to action. He is the figure pushing (because he passed the point of simply encouraging) for change. If I had to give a speech to the UN, I would hope to design my presentation along these lines; reachable to a wide audience, informative, but more importantly alive, real. In my experience with public speaking, I have found that you should try to draft your speech in a way that makes it memorable, otherwise, in my case, the judges, (in this case, the UN), will maybe appreciate it for a bit, then move on. I would open with my catch phrase, then throughout the speech lead up to a climax that closes with my catch phrase; “If we don’t take the time now, it will be lost.”

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      We are so lucky to have you with us this year. It would be great if you could possibly let your Italian classmates know something of the key/core concepts you did back home with your teacher of English. I am referring to the art of rhetoric, focussing on public speaking.
      I love your catch phrase “If we don’t take the time now, it will be lost.” This contribution of yours is very precious, thanks.

  7. Katriina scrive:

    DiCaprio uses civilized and vivid words in his speech. His body language is kept in the minimum so that it wouldn`t take the attention away from what he says. He appears serious through out the whole speech. He emphasises certain words throughout the speech, for example adjectives that describe how bad climate change has got.

    While explaining the effects of climate change he uses simple examples about the damages that climate change has done to the planet. That way everyone can follow his speech and understand how serious the situation is. DiCaprio uses himself as an example of a concerned citizen and he suggests that everyone, including the politicians, should be as concerned that he is, even tough he doesn`t say it directly. The pauses during the speech give listeners time to think about what he said and he often creates pauses after claiming something. He doesn`t create pauses while listing the affects of climate change to make it more expressive.

    The urgent message he is addressing to the UN Assembly is that politicians have to stop pretending nothing`s happening, they can`t just watch climate change get worse while they do nothing. The reason why politicians and people with power have to do something is that individuals can`t stop the climate change by themselves anymore. DiCaprio expects that something is done in favor of stopping the climate change or it will destroy human kind. He suggests that making people pay for the pollution they make would result in reducing of the pollution. He also demands that we have to stop letting industrial polluters pollute freely in the name of free-market economy, because they don`t deserve our tax money.
    If I was invited to give my own speech at the United Nations, I would try to make people understand that climate change will eventually concern everyone, regardless of where they live or who they are. I would emphasise the fact that not all people care about recycling or other things that could prevent climate change, even if they know how bad climate change is. Some people also don`t believe in it or think that it`s not true because they can`t see the effects in their everyday life. That`s why we need laws and restrictions to limit the pollution people make every day.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Katriina, thank you for your analysis of the speech. You grasped the different meanings pauses can acquire. Then you hit the nail on the head when you point out that DiCaprio indirectly criticises most politicians: he is an actor and he is paid to pretend, they are politicians they are paid to act, instead they pretend nothing is affecting our world and there is not urgency to take action.

  8. Francesco scrive:

    Hello Francesco,
    It is me, Your beloved Plastic Bag. I am sure you recall what you did to me, the toughts of it still make me shiver. I remember it as if it were yesterday: It was a day like any other in the counter of the grocery’s, everyday many of my fellows were taken home by you humans and my mind raced thinking of the countless adventures that I would live outside of that boring old shop, I was restlessly waiting for my turn to come. And then you came, you were like a bright light that blinded me, you extended your arm to grab me, I was so full of joy and groceries, I had a purpose. But it wasn’t long before I realized yours were all a bunch of lies, after I was emptied out of the groceries you threw me away with other garbage.
    At first I believed yours was a mistake but you did not come to find me in the trash bin. The days passed by, I was brought to a dumpsite and then I travelled. The world is perilous, vile beasts tried to eat me and I was dragged far and wide by the wind until I reached the sea. There I followed the currents and found the place I belonged to, the Vortex. I was welcomed by others like me, abanoned by their owners. I was enlightened, the Vortex taught me about the magic properties of the polyethylene that makes my body: It makes us immortal.
    Now I shall come and have my revenge, It is too late for repentance, you will face my wrath. Brace yourself for I am coming.
    Soon,
    Plastic Bag

    Who are you?
    How did you get my adress? And how do you know my name? Is this some kind of threat letter or are you just another pollution preacher? And what even is the Vortex, are you part of some of those underground cults? In any case if you write me another letter I will call the police. You can go back and play with your fellow plastic enthusiasts for all I care, just stop bothering me with this trash.
    My warmest regards,
    Francesco