Watch Leonardo DiCaprio and President Obama go hard on climate change at SXSL

The pair were joined by Texas Tech atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe for a discussion at the White House's South by South Lawn festival

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The Independent Culture

The White House's South by South Lawn festival saw a true meeting of minds - and respective street cred - when it came to its discussion on climate change. 

Leonardo DiCaprio and President Barack Obama joined forces for a stirring, passionate talk on the desperate need to enact change to protect our dying environment; joined by Texas Tech atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe. Both Obama and DiCaprio have, of course, been notably vocal on the issue; with DiCaprio himself fronting the upcoming documentary on the dangers of climate change, Before the Flood.

The pair certainly didn't pull any punches when it came to underlining the severity of the issues at hand; with DiCaprio stating in his opening remarks, "If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts or in science or empirical truths, and therefore, in my humble opinion, you should not be allowed to hold public office."

DiCaprio acted as moderator for the discussion, grilling the President over America's future responsibilities; "Does our planet have the ability to regenerate if we do the right things? Or has there been enough lasting damage that can never be undone?"

"We’re seeing climate changes at the more pessimistic end of the range that [was] anticipated by scientists. So we’re really in a race against time," President Obama said of the current global response. 

"We think of poverty, hunger and disease and people dying today from preventable causes that nobody should be dying from in 2016," Hayhoe at one point stated. "We think to ourselves climate change, we can deal with that later. We can no longer afford to deal with climate change later."


"On average, every year 200,000 people die from air pollution from burning fossil fuels in the U.S. alone," Hayhoe said. "Air pollution alone gives us all the reason we need to shift toward clean energy, let alone climate change."

President Obama offered one hopeful look at the situation, "If we tap the breaks now, then we don’t go over the cliff. When you think about climate change there’s a big difference between the oceans rising three feet or ten feet.

"Three feet, it’s going to be expensive and inconvenient and disruptive….But it’s probably manageable. Three feet means you move the houses back a little bit from the beach. Ten feet means the beach doesn’t exist."

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