Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar speech spiked climate change searches and discussions on social media, study finds

Google searches for 'climate change' were up 261 per cent compared to the day before DiCaprio's speech

Olivia Blair
Monday 08 August 2016 17:25 BST

When Leonardo DiCaprio won an Academy Award in February this year, after many years of near-misses, the internet reacted with delight.

Following years of memes about DiCaprio’s perceived lack of good fortune when it came to Oscar gongs, new joyous memes were created and shared and social media exploded with heartfelt praise.

While this internet reaction might have been expected following a win by the popular actor, another effect was also felt on the internet.

When the Revenant actor delivered his rousing speech which stressed the need to take climate change seriously, searches around the topic spiked significantly a new study has found.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed science publication PLOS ONE, said: “Social media engagement on climate change spiked after DiCaprio’s speech even though news coverage of climate change did not statistically significantly increase”.

In his speech, the 41-year old said: “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating,” before calling on world leaders to tackle the issue.

The next day, tweets mentioning climate change or global warming were 636 per cent higher than the day before the Oscars. When compared to Earth Day, which took place on April 22 this year, tweets were 5.3 times larger and compared to the the COP climate change conference in Paris at the end of last year tweets were 3.2 times larger.

The effects weren’t just felt on social media, Google searches from users keen to find out more about climate change “increased immediately the hour [after] DiCaprio spoke", according to the study. “Climate change” on Google rose by 261 per cent compared to the day before and the search for “global warming” rose 210 per cent higher the day of the speech.

“DiCaprio’s speech was a major moment for climate change advocacy, inspiring record levels of social media engagement and near record levels of online information seeking for climate change, apart from any similar increase in traditional news coverage,” the report said.

DiCaprio has long championed the need to take climate change seriously and is an avid environmental campaigner. He launched the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation, which has a “mission of protecting the world’s last wild places” in 1998 and earlier this year spoke about climate change at the UN.

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