Leading Man Leads a 'Green Revolution'

"Terrified" of global warming, Leonardo DeCaprio spearheads new documentary.

ByABC News
February 9, 2009, 10:16 PM

Aug. 10, 2007 — -- Leonardo DiCaprio says it was years ago when then-Vice President Al Gore took the time to explain to him the phenomenon of global warming and what it means for Earth.

"I was terrified, "DiCaprio said. "I think I was terrified, like anyone would be. And I didn't quite understand the connection that we had as human beings and the fact that we could literally alter our climate in that way."

Now the 32-year-old actor, whose career skyrocketed even as the on-screen Titanic sunk, is a passionate advocate for the environment and saving the planet. His documentary "The 11th Hour," set for release this week, presents an argument that says, in a nutshell, "Time is running out. You need to listen and believe it."

Like his mentor Gore in "An Inconvenient Truth," DiCaprio acts as an investigator presenting the ideas of 54 scientists and analysts.

One of them says, "Not only is it the 11th hour, it's 11:59 and 59 seconds."

Another, Kenny Ausubel, founder of the Bioneers Network, says in the documentary, "No civilization that has exceeded its ecological limits has ever recovered from that."

"What is it, over 90 percent of the scientific community has a consensus that mankind does have an impact on our climate? I tend to side with them," DiCaprio said.

His narration follows the development of civilization from mere subsistence to a crowded world upon which humans burn millions of years' worth of stored coal and oil, changing the environment that sustains life. The documentary tracks how human beings have dramatically altered nature, leading to the extinction of thousands of species while changing patterns of weather and heating Earth's atmosphere.

DiCaprio is careful not to present himself as an environmental expert. "There's a certain stigma with people in Hollywood trying to become experts on the subject," he said.

He tries to lead by example. He drives a hybrid car and has built a house with all the bells and whistles of green technology. "Solar panels and everything," he said. "It's insulated in the proper ways. I've got clean air, clean water. It's very complicated stuff, but it's green."