Acclaimed star Leonardo DiCaprio has been honored with a rare tree species being named after him. For years, DiCaprio has worked tirelessly to bring the issue of climate change and environmental degradation into mainstream discourse, establishing himself as one of the most outspoken celebrity environmentalists in the process. Though his work is far from over in this respect, DiCaprio has managed to highlight some major issues while continuing to be a considerable draw on the big screen.
At present, the 47-year-old Oscar-winner can be seen in the record-breaking Don’t Look Up, which boasts a star-studded cast and has earned much acclaim since its release. And while the film deals with the subject of mass extinction in a slightly different manner than the very real issue of climate change does, DiCaprio has previously helped to deliver a variety of films such as Virunga, Before the Flood, Catching the Sun and The Ivory Game, all of which explore human responsibility for environmental destruction in one capacity or another as well as possible solutions to these problems. At times criticized for being just another celebrity flaunting their cause de jour for publicity, DiCaprio has proven himself highly aware of ongoing environmental injustice, most recently speaking out in support of indigenous Wet’suwet’en water defenders resisting illegal encroachment of their traditional lands.
Whether film or environmental related, it might seem that by this point, DiCaprio has achieved about as much as one person can. However, according to Variety, there’s still room for the Titanic star to take things to the next level. Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew has honored DiCaprio by naming a rare tree found in a Cameroonian forest after him. The small tropical evergreen trees are reportedly in critical danger of being rendered extinct and have therefore been named Uvariopsis dicaprio in hopes of drawing attention to the logging currently take place in the Ebo Forest.
At present, logging practices within Cameroon are causing extensive environmental damage, with much of the destruction coming as the result of illegal logging. To suggest that naming an endangered tree species after a major Hollywood celebrity is going to fix that problem might be considered naïve by some, but with DiCaprio’s extensive fanbase and his ability to draw awareness with something as little as a social media post, the concept has its share of benefits. But, of course, beyond any debate regarding the efficacy of a DiCaprio tree is the assurance that having an actual tree named after you is a pretty cool honor.
Taking stock of continuing environmental damage and the changing climate that this devastation brings is never an easy pill to swallow. In this way, DiCaprio is doing his part to try and mix entertainment with awareness. This isn’t always the case, as some of his previously mentioned documentaries are indeed hard-hitting. But the success of Don’t Look Up has managed to pair a much needed bit of reflection with the sort of comedy that is clearly appealing to audiences. Hopefully, this kind of entertainment can help to create the change needed, proving that Leonardo DiCaprio’s efforts are worth paying attention to.
Next: Don’t Look Up: Why Is Nobody Listening?
- Don’t Look Up (2021)Release date: Dec 10, 2021
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