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Superyachts and environmental activism

Published on January 11th, 2022

The sport of sailing has been active in heightening environmental awareness, and while the message of responsibility is difficult to debate, it becomes infinitely easier when it comes from a conflicted messenger.

A story involving Hollywood, partying, wealth, environmentalism, and a two-time America’s Cup winner has been burning up the internet… good times!

Leonardo DiCaprio does not seem to have the best luck when it comes to large, expensive boats. But unlike his fictional experience in Titanic, the real-life actor has found himself in hot water this time.

Leo is well known for his environmental activism and is currently under fire for partying on a gas-guzzling superyacht during a trip to St. Barts.

Leo is a celebrity ambassador for the United Nations and has referred to climate change as “the most urgent threat facing our entire species.” Using his fame and platform, he has tirelessly advocated for the world to take this seriously, even using his career to that effect.

But it is estimated that the superyacht on which he was partying consumes as much carbon while sailing just seven miles as the average car uses in a year.

The 315 foot, $150 million Vava II has six decks and features a helipad, with refueling costs at a jarring quarter of a million. That’s a hefty gas bill — for a tremendous volume of fossil fuel.

Leo was there with his 24-year-old girlfriend, Camila Morrone, who had likely not been born yet while Titanic was filming. Though they partied on it with friends, the superyacht belongs to Swiss pharmaceutical billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli.

The yacht releases in one mile the amount of carbon emissions that the average car emits in two months, which makes Leo a huge hypocrite for pushing to combat climate change while stomping such a wide carbon footprint on vacation.

Everyone is entitled to enjoy themselves from time to time, but the lifestyles of the wealthy have a much larger impact.

However, in fairness, the idea that individual actions are the key to solving the climate crisis is naive. We can all take steps to reduce our own footprint for many good reasons, but it’s sort of a “plastic straw ban” approach — because it won’t address the real problem.

Something like 70% of all global emissions are caused by just 100 companies. The way to solve this is through legislation, innovation, and sweeping reform.

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