Since he sailed onto millions of middle school bedroom walls in “Titanic,” Leonardo DiCaprio has been winning the Oscar of our hearts on a daily basis. Now, at long last, he’s finally won an Oscar IRL.
Even though this is Leo’s first win, he’s been doing award-worthy work on the sly for some time now — on issues arguably more important than whether one 19th century dude can make it over a mountain with freezing wet hair.
“Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species,” DiCaprio said in his acceptance speech.
It’s not the first time Leo has gone to bat for the Earth and the most vulnerable folks who live on it. Here are five other times we wish we could give him a golden statue for.
1. The time he stood in front of the UN and begged politicians and CEOs to stop pretending that global warming was someone else’s problem.
Lots of celebrities have pet causes. Angelina Jolie has orphans. George Clooney has Haiti and Darfur. Aaron Carter has Donald Trump.
Leo? He’s taken on the minor task of preventing the complete, apocalyptic annihilation of the human race at its own hands.
And he doesn’t just talk the talk, he talks the talk in front of some of the most powerful people on planet Earth. Here’s what he said at the UN back in September 2014:
“This is not a partisan debate. It is a human one. Clean air and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. Solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is a question of our own survival. This is the most urgent of times and the most urgent of messages.”
Dude knows how to give a speech.
2. The time he bro’d out with John Kerry in Paris and helped secure perhaps the most important international agreement on climate change in history.
John Kerry and Leonardo DiCaprio have a lot in common. They’re both human males. They’ve both appeared on great American sitcoms (seriously!). And, most importantly, they both went to bat for #TeamEarth in Paris in December.
That meeting they were at? It ultimately produced the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate charter between 195 nations of the world, all of whom committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
These are countries that … don’t always agree with each other, to put it mildly. I’m not suggesting DiCaprio was single-handedly responsible, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Xi Jinping’s office contains 18 newly-signed copies of “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”
3. The time he used an acceptance speech to speak up for the rights of Native Americans and First Nations people around the world.
In his Golden Globes acceptance speech for “The Revenant,” Leo gave native communities worldwide a much-needed, well-deserved shoutout.
The reason? To remind an audience of millions that their struggle for land rights continues to this day — something that rarely gets a lot of attention, especially at a big Hollywood awards show.
Some have criticized “The Revenant” for relegating Native American characters to the background, while others have praised it for accurately depicting the native characters it does feature as belonging to distinct, competing tribes with unique cultures. Leo couldn’t have used his visibility better in this moment.
Not only is DiCaprio part of the Divest Invest Coalition, which urges investors and organizations to take their money out of companies that contribute to climate change, he’s an investor in a startup that’s attempting to use mobile technology to make waste disposal cleaner and more efficient.
This way, the greener our trash hauling economy becomes, the richer Leonardo DiCaprio gets — and the more likely he gets a Spruce Goose in real life.
Powered by emission-free hydrogen fuel cells of course.
In addition to ponying up the cash, Leo has spoken out forcefully against the destruction of aquatic ecosystems, for the rights of people living on the low-lying islands of the Pacific who are struggling with sea-level rise and for the health of Earth’s oceans general.
“We’re plundering the ocean and its vital resources,” DiCaprio said in a speech to the Our Ocean Conference in October 2014. “And just because we can’t see the devastation from dry land, does not mean it’s any less dangerous to life on earth. And it has to stop.”
This is a huge step for Leo. Let’s not forget, this is a man who drowned in the ocean just 19 years ago.
Way to let bygones be bygones, Leo!
And congrats on the big win! This award is deserved not just for one great performance but for everything he’s done to make the world a better place.
Thanks for fighting the good fight, Leo. Can’t wait to see what you do next.