Last night Leonardo DiCaprio took home his first Oscar as best actor for his role in The Revenant, and he devoted much of his acceptance speech to making the case for climate change action. DiCaprio described climate change as “the most urgent threat facing our entire species,” and said that "[w]e need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this."
But on Fox News, DiCaprio's impassioned plea for climate action was met with scorn. On the February 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy derided DiCaprio as “an environmentalist who has taken jets all over the place, oddly.” And Ainsley Earhardt, on her first day co-hosting the program, quickly acclimated to the Fox News talking points, criticizing DiCaprio for partying on “super yachts.” “What's your green footprint on something like that?” Doocy asked incredulously.
This is a page from the same tired playbook for Doocy and others at Fox News, who used an identical line of attack to try to undermine the historic United Nations climate change agreement reach in Paris in December. Never mind that Doocy himself is a climate science denier, who has falsely claimed the average global temperature “for the most part [has] stabilized or gone down a little bit” over the past couple of decades. Or that Earhardt has refused to acknowledge evidence of a relationship between climate change and the rise of the jihadist group ISIS. The climate-denying Heartland Institute voiced similar objections to DiCaprio's remarks.
While there is immense value in talking about climate change to the tens of millions of people tuning in to the Oscars around the world, it's also important to recognize that DiCaprio's push for climate action is more than just words. Climate change is one of the main priorities of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which last year alone raised more than $40 million for environmental protection and directly donated $15 million in grants to conservation organizations. DiCaprio, who individually raised more than $2 million last year through the sale of his personal items, has been recognized by the United Nations for his fundraising and other climate-related efforts.
Backstage at the Oscar ceremony, DiCaprio elaborated on his remarks about climate change, stating, “if you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in modern science or empirical truths -- and you will be on the wrong side of history.” He was talking about candidates in the 2016 election, but he just as easily could have been talking about Fox News.