Red-carpet aficionados struggling to figure out how a ‘visceral cinematic experience’ – filmed almost entirely in the snowy landscapes of North America – could prompt a frothy take-home serve of climate alarmism from a leading actor should reflect on Mark Twain’s advice: “Never let the truth stand in the way of a good story, unless you can’t think of anything better”.
Today Twain surely would add: “nor in the way of anthropogenic atmospheric angst or a saving-the-planet pitch, no matter how silly”; especially if you have just won an Oscar for the best bear-ravaged frontiersman this side of Fortress Mountain and are doubling as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.
On the celebrity frontier the mood this week seemed almost as tense – but not as chilly – as it was on location. Plenty of haute-couture and alarming epidermis on display – from Alicia’s ‘fun and flirty’ Louis Vuitton to Kate’s Ralph Lauren ‘garbage bag’. But fewer animal pelts and bear-hugs than last year.
Leonardo DiCaprio was in the front row, just a short walk from his first Oscar after five nominations. In a dignified acceptance speech, the star heaped praise on best director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and his USD165 million ‘transcendental’ film, The Revenant.
Mad Max: Fury Road’s sound editor turned up the contrast with an F-bomb. True, not the end of the world. But if Mark Mangini did not hear a pin drop, it was probably because it was drowned out by the voice of his spouse, mother or both. “It’s pretty intense up there,” confided co-winner, David White, in Mangini’s defence. “It’s typically Australians who do the swearing. So the fact that I didn’t swear, I deserve the Oscar just for that.”
But DiCaprio’s speech was scarier than any snarling thing roaring down Fury Road. One bear-hunting man’s ‘epic adventure of survival’ somehow morphed post-production into an eco-allegory about
“man’s relationship to the natural world. A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow. Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We 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. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed. I thank you all for this amazing award tonight. Let us not take this planet for granted..” (transcript , Kadeen Griffiths, 29 February 2016; author’s bolding).
To some in the glitzy audience, it sounded like an extract from The Climatobabble Handbook for Beginners. “It’s the politics of greed sayeth the man who flies in private jets, has four houses and is taking a trip on Virgin’s Galactic SpaceShip,” posted Joanne Nova.
Being a suspicious sod myself – and on behalf of all readers ‘out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics’ of climate alarmism – I asked Sam Spade for a quick second opinion. His sleuthing, while preliminary, suggests DiCaprio’s Patagonian palaver is piffle.
Weather -- not climate change – was the major issue with this movie. The original intention was to shoot most of it in Kananaskis Country – 4,211 sq km of impressive wilderness in the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary – with one scene in adjacent Montana. The 16 filming locations are listed here and here.
And weather was an issue only because of Iñárritu’s insistence on shooting snow, snow and more snow in natural light. Days are shorter in winter. Travel-time between sets was slower than anticipated in the rugged terrain, reducing filming to a just couple of hours a day.
Gaia is indifferent to puny human endeavours. She has no concept of what it means to ‘get with the project’. If some folk somewhere on the planet are too busy – or too slow – to notice winter turning to spring and then summer, it is not her problem.
Clue 1: “The snow melted before filming was complete”. Given the ‘similitude of Patagonia’ to Canada, it emerged as the ‘perfect place to shoot several scenes there.’
Mr Spade also located an explosive – and authentic – movie-insider statement or three.
Clue 2: “We had tremendous weather problems. It was freezing and snowing when it wasn’t meant to be. And when it wasn’t meant to be, it was. It wouldn’t snow. Our movie was really reliant on snow. That was a huge hit.”
Believe it or not, there was a serious – not a wardrobe, but a – location malfunction. A lack of snow in Canada at a time of year when there is normally a lack of snow forced the production to move to Patagonia in search of it. A six-day shoot here — in August — cost an unbudgeted $10 million, “an extremely big hit financially.”
So the small Olivia River near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, became the unlikely final set. With financiers presumably baying for more blood on snow by this time – the initial production budget was USD60 million, with USD30 million funded by Arnon Milchan’s New Regency — few were surprised when Iñárritu declared he would never make another movie like this one: “I am a crazy man, but not stupid”.
Mr Spade’s evidence is compelling. August is high summer in the northern hemisphere. So the real reason for going ‘to the southern tip of the planet just to find snow’ seems to have been because production was behind schedule. If so, it had absolutely nothing to do with DiCaprio’s – and the UN’s — ‘climate change’ bogeyman.
As for 2015 being ‘the hottest year in recorded history’, clearly the Oscar winner had not been briefed on the latest research. But then, curiously, this recent article in Nature was not front page news. Indeed, almost none of the outlets that so keenly promote the warming paradigm even mentioned it.
According to Dr David Whitehouse, science editor of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, writing in The Spectator last week, this was no surprise. For it underlined “the sound science behind an inconvenient truth: that there has been a 15-year hiatus in global warming.”
“It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.”
The UN IPCC also only just had its first “expert meeting” on climate communication in Oslo in February – after two decades in business – probably prompted by a surge in climate-catastrophist fatigue syndrome (CCFS) after Paris 2015.
In DiCaprio’s four-minute address to the UN Climate Summit 2014 in New York on 23 September that year – called to ‘raise political momentum’ for Paris 2015 and ‘to galvanize transformative action’ – he said:
“I pretend for a living. I play fictitious characters trying to solve fictitious problems….You do not. The time to answer humankind’s greatest challenge is now.”
Only a supremely talented and tautologically-challenged actor could deliver this observation – “climate change is real, it is happening right now” -- with such gravitas. Another Oscar, please, for the UN’s Hollywood hot guy on climate alarmism. Bravissimo, Leonardo!
As Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences (Emeritus) Massachusetts Institute of Technology lamented last August (here):
“It is difficult to know whether the statements of prominent political [and other public] figures represents dishonesty, ignorance or both.”