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Leonardo DiCaprio’s Climate Change Doc Could ‘Change the World,’ Nat Geo CEO Says

Courteney Monroe’s not just drumming up TV ratings — she wants to end global warming (but will take the ratings)

National Geographic CEO Courteney Monroe told TheWrap she believes Leonardo DiCaprio‘s “Before the Flood” documentary “has the potential to change the world,” which isn’t surprising, considering her cable channel owns the rights. But that doesn’t mean she is wrong.

“Before the Flood” is a very powerful climate change film starring the Hollywood heavy hitter, who has made global warming education a very personal cause for decades. DiCaprio, who also produced the film alongside Fisher Stevens, is even the United Nations Messenger of Peace on the subject — though that post has recently been called into question by one Swiss organization over the star’s ties to an ongoing embezzlement investigation.

Without Leo’s involvement, TheWrap wouldn’t be covering the film, Monroe said during our conversation — and she’s probably right. “I think it would be night and day,” Monroe added, in terms of the movie’s potential cultural impact otherwise.

“First of all, he brings authenticity … you don’t get named the U.N. Messenger of Peace for climate change if you aren’t genuinely committed to the issue,” she said. The film is even screening at the U.N. on Thursday night.

Plus, there’s that whole mega-celebrity thing: “When that guy gets out of a car, it’s unbelievable — the number of people, the enthusiasm,” Monroe continued.

That certainly doesn’t hurt the attention factor. You’re welcome, planet Earth.

Much like it did this writer, the doc hit Monroe hard at home, which is exactly its goal.

Monroe has an 11-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter, and the executive planned to use the film as a teachable moment. The good news is, she really didn’t have too — her kids are already learning about these environmental issues in school.

“When I started to talk about it [with my kids], I thought I was introducing the idea of climate change, of global warming to them — and in fact, I wasn’t at all,” she said. “[That’s] incredibly encouraging.”

“Before the Flood” shows dramatic changes occurring around the world due to climate change, and demonstrates actions individuals and society at large can take to prevent what the film argues could be catastrophic disruption of life on our planet. DiCaprio travels to five continents and the Arctic in the documentary, speaking to scientists, world leaders, activists and local residents to better understand the issue, and search for possible solutions.

Beyond just buying the movie’s rights and voluntarily paying some carbon tax, Nat Geo is putting its money where its mouth — err, your TV speaker — is: for every use of hashtag #BeforeTheFlood and/or phrase “Before the Flood” across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from Oct. 17 through Nov. 8, a $1 donation will be triggered from NGC and 21st Century Fox to Pristine Seas and the Wildlife Conservation Society, up to $100,000 ($50,000 to each organization).

“Before the Flood” will be in theaters in New York and Los Angeles starting Oct. 21 and air globally on National Geographic Channel (in 171 countries and 45 languages) on Oct. 30.