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DiCaprio and Other Celebrity Activists Should Plan a Trip to China to Educate Themselves

Editorial — Edmonton Journal — August 25, 2014

Saturday’s column on Leonardo DiCaprio unleashed lots of reader reaction, as I expected, including dozens of emails (some pretty hostile) and scores of online comments.

In general, the reaction falls into two camps: first, those who generally see Hollywood activist-celebs like DiCaprio as hypocrites who don’t walk their own talk, who live opulent lives that generate enormous carbon footprints, yet pose as environmental defenders.

It’s no surprise that my views largely align with this group.

The second faction seems largely comprised of idealistic 20 and 30-somethings – judging from their Facebook photos – who want a cleaner environment but generally have unrealistic or simplistic ideas about how to achieve it. They seem to regard renewable energy – wind and solar power – as some kind of magic pill that has the power to transform a fossil fuel dependent planet into the Garden of Eden.

They rarely offer practical or realistic solutions about how to achieve this, but are often quick to lash out at those who challenge them, or who dare criticize the likes of DiCaprio, who live lavish lives but want the rest of us to turn a blind eye to their own over-consumption.

I didn’t mention it in my Saturday column, since I wasn’t aware of this when I wrote it, but DiCaprio and 21 of his friends recently used one of the world’s largest superyachts, an energy-guzzling 482-foot behemoth called the Topaz, in order to watch the recent World Cup in Brazil in high style.

The yacht is the 5th largest in the world, according to news reports, and is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. That’s right. It’s oil money that paid for the fancy yacht that Leo and his pals used to watch the World Cup.

Sheikh Mansour, who has an estimated personal wealth of around $4 billion US, and DiCaprio appear to be rather good friends, in fact. In April of this year, DiCaprio reportedly teamed up with actors Jamie Foxx and Orlando Bloom to host a 1980s theme party on the Topaz in New York. According to the New York Daily News, it was attended by about 100 guests.

The vessel includes a swimming pool, a fitness gym, a cinema, a large conference room and a deck top jacuzzi. Oh, it is also outfitted with a helicopter landing pad.

Mind you, I don’t begrudge Leo enjoying his wealth, his celebrity status, the company of supermodel girlfriends or his right to think whatever he wants to think about the oil industry. It’s a free world, after all.

But I do resent DiCaprio’s tendency to say one thing and do another, to live the big life while lecturing the rest of use plebes on how we need to clean up the planet. He may fool the naive and altruistic among us who regard celebrities as seers and visionaries pointing the way to a greener future. But he doesn’t fool anyone who is willing to take a hard look at what is a profoundly complex issue.  Continue reading here…

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