Climate: A Bad Career Move for Leo?

Well since it’s climate week we may as well continue with our dominant theme. As previously mentioned, Leo DiCaprio has gone all-in to be the climate change poster boy, apparently extending as far as aping Al Gore in becoming a one-man carbon sequestration project (Leo: I’d watch that waist line if you still want to bag supermodels; McConaughey is staying in shape after all).

But I wonder if Leo has made a bad career move. Popular Science magazine points us to a content analysis of mentions of climate change or global warming in popular culture, and the trend shows a distinct waning of the subject in TV and movies, as shown in this chart:

(Click to embiggen.)

(Click to embiggen.)

As PopSci explains:

The analysis comes from Ben Schmidt, an assistant professor at Northeastern University, who works with large historical datasets. We’ve written about his cool work before. For this project, he obtained the scripts from closed captioning and subtitles for about 87,000 movies and shows. Then he wrote a program to calculate how frequently a searched word or phrase turns up each year, as well as a way to graph those frequencies for users. A click on the graph will show in which movies and shows the world appeared. For example, in 1931, “biology” appeared in the movies Frankenstein and Arrowsmith, which featured a bubonic plague outbreak. You can do your own searching here.

In this respect, popular culture—usually a lagging indictor of public sentiment—is following the polls and the news media in yawning ever wider about climate change. Leo ought to think twice of doing a remake of the climate flick The Day After Tomorrow.

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