DiCaprio needs chinook lesson


The old saying “with great power comes great responsibility” can be applied to the real world, as well as the Marvel Universe. Instead of Norse Gods and web-slingers, we have pop stars and celebrities enjoying hero status in our modern world.

The message is no less relevant — those with the power to incite change have a responsibility to ensure that they are making positive changes and that they are in the best interests of everyone.

There has been a lot of media attention lately surrounding celebrities speaking out about their pet causes and rallying their fan base to garner support. There is one slight problem with all of this: They often have no qualifications to speak of and as such frequently spread incomplete or incorrect information.

Celebrity personalities like Neil Young, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jenny McCarthy have used their fame to stir up support in hopes of inciting change. But again, what qualifications do these people have?

Young is an artist, DiCaprio is an actor and McCarthy is a former pin-up model. Not one has the education or experience to be delivering speeches about the oilsands, medical practices or climate change. Yet they receive the support that they seek. Their misinformation and skewed rhetoric often stifle discussion and ultimately hinder any real progress when their views clash with industry professionals and people who are experts in those fields.

DiCaprio has been particularly vocal regarding the Alberta “tarsands”; seemingly either oblivious or unconcerned with the fact the oilsands contain no tar whatsoever. It’s a misnomer that carries a negative connotation and in turn affects the opinions of the general population – regardless if the meaning of those words is inaccurate.

Our friend Leo has also been rather outspoken about the weather patterns in Alberta. During the filming of his most recent film The Revenant he experienced first-hand Alberta’s don’t-like-the-weather-wait-five-minutes climate. During filming, a chinook came over the mountains, which he erroneously assumed was proof of climate change, even going as far as calling them “terrifying.” One quick tidbit there, Leo — chinooks have been a part of central and southern Alberta’s climate for centuries. Originating from the Chinookan band of indigenous people hailing from the northwestern United States, chinook is a word that First Nations people came to use to mean “snow-eater.” It certainly isn’t a recent development proving a significant, man-made climate shift.

In our modern age we must base our advocacy and actions on scientific, peer-reviewed and time-tested evidence. Even on topics such as climate change and global warming where the scientific community is still gathering more evidence in order to draw conclusions, it is unwise to jump onto the celebrity bandwagon, grabbing our torch and pitchfork on the way.

Sadly, these celebrities may mean well, but their fervent ignorance is doing more harm than good.

The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. If these celebrities care enough about their cause, they will educate themselves, rally support for research before drawing conclusions and inciting the masses, and allow the experts in these fields to do what they do best. It’s called science.



About Author

Darlana Robertson

Darlana Robertson is a twentysomething writer from Calgary and a former Central Alberta resident. Her columns appear regularly in the Innisfail Province.