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Cheetahs have disappeared from across 91 percent of their range. Udayan Dasgupta / Mongabay

A year ago, scientists reported that cheetahs had disappeared from across 91 percent of their historic range.

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), the researchers recommended in their study, should be up-listed from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Doing this could afford the imperiled species greater attention and support, they said.

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By Julia Conley

A video of a starving polar bear led to calls for climate change denialists to confront the real-world effects of global warming this week. Taken by a Canadian conservationist and photographer and posted to social media, the video offered a stark visual of the drastic impacts of climate change that have already begun taking root.

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The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.

As a result, places that were once considered pristine—such as Antarctica and the ocean floors of Australia—have become inundated with plastic waste.

Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.

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By Katie O'Reilly

Two years ago—long before coal became one of the most dominant and controversial symbols of the 2016 presidential election—Bloomberg Philanthropies approached production company RadicalMedia with the idea of creating a documentary exploring the U.S. coal mining industry. Last spring, they brought on Emmy-nominated director Michael Bonfiglio, tasked with forging a compelling story out of the multitudes of facts, statistics and narratives underlying the declining industry.

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Adventure travel supports wildlife and local communities but can also be an invigorating and healthy vacation.

I was shocked when I found out the travel industry generates nearly 10 percent of the world's GDP and rising each year. People are travelling and travelling more often. Tourism employs 1 of every 11 people in the world.

Along with economic impact, travel presents opportunities for growth, learning and the exchange of ideas. Travel and tourism are critical in maintaining our economy and this is especially true in developing countries. On global and local levels tourism is essential for sustainable development. As a result, the travel industry has become a sector where you can see shining examples of environmentally-conscious principles put into action that protect the planet and lift up the world's peoples.

What is sustainable tourism? As defined by the United Nations, it is that which takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.

The UN has declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. According to the Secretary-General of the World Travel Organization, Taleb Rifai, this is "a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability—economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued."

Tourism is directly associated with three of the 17 UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

We have to alleviate poverty and provide people with basic healthcare, food to eat and fresh water. However, this becomes impossible if we continue to erode the natural systems that support all life. Thankfully, nature travel and learning about cultural heritage are among the world's fastest growing tourism sectors. In order to save the rhinos, elephants and tigers you have to help those that depend on the same land and resources. Tourism focused on wildlife ensures those animals become more valuable alive than dead. Fortunately, adventure tourism, which is focused on nature, wildlife and cultural experiences, has grown 65 percent year over year since 2009. Soon it will surpass $300 billion in annual revenues, reports George Washington University in their annual Adventure Tourism Market Report.

According to Booking.com's 2015 survey of more than 32,000 global travelers in 16 countries, 52 percent of adult travelers said they are more likely to choose travel based on destinations that reduce environmental impact or ensure that tourism has a positive impact on the local community. And Americans (53 percent) are among the world's top sustainable-minded travelers. With this sharply growing trend hospitality and travel companies that do not keep up with sustainable travel will lose out.

Since 2014, I have been participating as a judge for National Geographic's World Legacy Awards, which honors companies, organizations and destinations-ranging from airlines to hotels, from communities to countries driving the positive transformation of the tourism industry, showcasing leaders and visionaries in sustainable tourism best practices. Costas Christ, chairman of the awards, is credited with defining the term ecotourism which has now been standardized globally by the UN. Costas also serves as the director of sustainability for Virtuoso and moderated a panel I was on this year at the Virtuoso Travel Week conference. Virtuoso Travel Week is an intense five days where preferred luxury travel agents and providers come together to do hundreds of millions of dollars of business, as well as recognize industry leaders in sustainable tourism as the market continues to become more aware of the need to drive a sustainable strategy. It's about the triple bottom line—people, profit and planet.

You can stay at Ted Turner's formerly private residence on endless acres of pristine nature at Ladder Ranch with Ted Turner Expeditions.

Land and biodiversity conservation is one of my family's most beloved passions. My father launched Ted Turner Expeditions (TTX) in 2015 with three properties in New Mexico. My father, a well known leader in conservation, has worked to restore the overgrazed habitat of these grand ranches to their former pre-cattle glory. Having a passion for bison since his childhood, dad has made sure this iconic species is an important part of the restoration. There has also been a commitment to preserving and enhancing biodiversity.

Through the work of the Turner Endangered Species Fund biologists and other partner organizations have been working to increase the numbers of imperiled and endangered species, among them the Mexican Gray Wolf, Bolson Tortoise and Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Visitors can stay on one of a number of properties, including some of my father's formerly-private residences and immerse themselves in an incredible American landscape that has been dubbed by some as the American Serengeti. As visitors enjoy the beauty of these natural landscapes they are also becoming more aware of the importance of conserving the land and species for many generations to come. Two TTX ranches, the Armendaris Ranch and Ladder Ranch, are located in one of two of the most critically important biodiversity hotspots in North America. With TTX, my father has created a model for other private land and business owners that you can manage these landscapes for profit and conservation and the two are not mutually exclusive.

With my family as we explore Iceland and their green energy economy.

As you begin to plan your 2017 vacation, consider destinations and accommodations that employ environmentally sustainable best practices. You can not imagine how much good your visit can do for the local people and animals. My favorite trips have been transformative experiences in nature, topping the list are the Arctic circle, the Amazon river basin and the Galapagos. I always come away restored and more committed than ever to work to make sure these special places are available for our children and future generations. On my bucket list are the Antarctic, the awe-inspiring Sandhill crane migration along Nebraska's Platte River and central Mexico to see the wintering grounds of the imperiled Monarch butterflies.

Here are 10 of the best ecolodges, according to National Geographic:

1. South Africa: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve

2. Indonesia: Misool Eco Resort

3. Peru: Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica

4. Australia: Great Ocean Ecolodge

5. Greece: Milia Mountain Retreat

6. Nicaragua: Jicaro Island Ecolodge

7. China: Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

8. Sri Lanka: Jetwing Vil Uyana

9. Poland: Eco-Frontiers Ranch

10. Namibia: Damaraland Camp

Food poisoning cases linked to eating oysters and other shellfish from New England waters have jumped from five cases in 2000 to 147 in 2013. A study from the University of New Hampshire links this increase to warming ocean waters.

The culprit is a bacteria called Vibrio. It infects seafood and causes 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is most common when waters are warmer, typically from May to October. Now, as climate change is warming even the typically cool New England coastal seas, the bacteria is spreading.

''In the last 10 or 20 years, it's become very apparent that there is something going on,'' said one of the researchers, Stephen Jones, of the Northeast Center for Vibrio Disease and Ecology at the University of New Hampshire.

Vibriosis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, fever and chills. A bout typically lasts three days, but those with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions can experience more serious symptoms.

A separate study published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at 50 years of data from water samples in the North Atlantic. They found a direct correlation between rising water temperatures and increased Vibrio infections in both the U.S. and Europe.

Rita Colwell, one of the study's authors, told National Geographic, "We were able to show a doubling, tripling—in some cases quadrupling—of the Vibrio over that 50-year period."

Flickr/Jeremy Keith

Similar reports have come from Alaska as well.

Vibrio first made its appearance there in 2004, when 62 cruise ship passengers were sickened after eating raw oysters from Prince William Sound. A year later, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that linked the outbreak to increased water temperatures.

The threshold level of danger comes when water reaches 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The study showed that the water temperature at the oyster farm where the infected mollusks were harvested had increased from 1997 to 2004. The temperature exceeded the critical level for the first time in July and August of 2004.

Then, Vibrio began to spread. From Prince William Sound to the Gulf of Alaska and Cook Inlet, over the next nine years 22 marine animals known to eat shellfish—sea otters, a beluga whale and a porpoise—were found to be carrying the bacteria.

The cold waters off Maine and New Hampshire have made Vibrio rare in the region. But, the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99.9 percent of the world's oceans. That has already decimated the lobster industry in Southern New England.

"In the North Atlantic, we are seeing a northern march of whole ecosystems toward the poles as the planet warms: predators, prey, and in the case of Vibrio, the parasites as well, moving with their hosts up the globe," said Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.

Vibriosis isn't the only concern coming from warming waters. In recent months, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island have been forced to close many areas to shellfishing due to numerous toxic algae outbreaks. They have since been reopened.

As winter approaches, colder sea temperatures reduce the risk of Vibrio bacteria. Current sea temperatures along the coast of New England are in the upper 40s to about 50 degrees, according to NOAA data, well below the danger level. Alaskan waters range from 33 degrees in Cook Inlet along the Kenai Peninsula to 45 in Prince William Sound and 46 in the Gulf of Alaska.

The CDC recommends cooking shellfish, washing your hands after contact with raw shellfish and avoiding contaminating cooked foods with raw shellfish or its juices. For those who love raw oysters, though, it may be wise to ask where they came from and check the NOAA coastal water temperatures or another app for that location. Or you can follow this common lore, which states that we should only be eating shellfish, especially oysters, in months with the letter "R."

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The new Leonardo DiCaprio documentary Before the Flood can now be seen on National Geographic.

The actor is a longtime advocate of environmental causes, and his film is surely helping to increase awareness of global warming and the challenges we face with climate chaos. In it, DiCaprio journeys from the remote melting regions of Greenland to the burning forests of Sumatra to the halls of the Vatican, exploring the devastating impact of climate change on the planet.

Before the Flood discusses how climate change is moving us rapidly into an era in which life on Earth might be much, much different. It does a great job describing the pressing problems we face. Yet, sadly, the film has a serious omission. It makes only passing mention of the food issue and almost no mention of soils or ocean acidification.

Carbon farming is the solution to climate change. It's time for us to de-carbonize our energy and re-carbonize our soils.

Too few people know that Monsanto and industrial agriculture are contributing more to climate change than Exxon, Chevron and the entire transportation industry combined. Not many understand that a large animal feedlot is just as environmentally destructive as a coal-fired power plant—if not even more damaging.

So why are so many concerned people not addressing the food-climate connection?

It's Time for a 100% Solution

As the planet surges toward an atmospheric 450 ppm, solar, wind and reducing extraction alone cannot slow the release of carbon emissions fast enough. Yet Before the Flood, along with most climate groups, preaches only half a game plan—a 50 percent solution that will, in fact, allow continued destruction.

Our new president-elect is vowing to renegotiate the Paris climate agreement, to green-light shuttered toxic coal plants, to frack coast to coast, and to reduce incentives for solar and wind.

The unfortunate reality is that the carbon-busting Congressional legislation that will be awaiting Trump's signature will make Exxon blush! Thus the need to sequester carbon into the soil using the power of plants and grazing animals is greater now than ever. Will those who are a part of the climate movement start spreading the word of this potential solution?

The oceans are dying from a massive carbon bomb. We need to balance the carbon cycle and reduce climate chaos without losing any more time. The scientific solution—carbon sequestration—is one already proven by 500 million years of R&D. The short film The Soil Story explains this process well in an easy-to-follow five-minute animated clip:

We can readily increase the scale of carbon farming—also known as regenerative agriculture. And the good news is that hundreds of millions of farmers on small plots the world over already know a thing or two about this beneficial farming methodology.

Growing sea kelp in the oceans is another innovative way to sequester carbon while producing food, feed and fuel. But for this to be possible into the future, we're going to have to help our seas.

A recent Huffington Post article, The Ocean Is Losing Its Breath—and Climate Change Is Making It Worse, states:

"From the waters off the Oregon coast, to the upwelling zones off Peru, to the Baltic and Black seas, Bay of Bengal, South China Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, to name but a few regions, so-called dead zones are on the increase. Low oxygen areas in the deep ocean are also expanding, primarily due to warming. ... For example, experiments have shown that reduced oxygen greatly limits the metabolic scope of fish, and their whole metabolism slows down. Feeding and growth can be greatly reduced."

Soil Health Equals Cleaner Air

It seems that many climate environmental groups have yet to understand the carbon cycle or to see the big picture of ecology, a situation I pointed out in a 2015 EcoWatch piece, Why Are Climate Groups Only Focused on 50% of the Solution? If they did, these organizations would be unfurling banners at Monsanto's giant pesticide factories and soil health would be discussed when talking about climate action.

A few weeks ago, I chatted with the founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, in the green room before he went on to the main stage at the annual Bioneers conference. In the course of our exchange, I realized that McKibben is so focused on fighting big oil and big coal that the idea of carbon sequestration as a solution isn't a part of his message.

Many 350.org members I've met show interest in this proven solution, yet prior to our discussions they've never heard about it. Except for a few rare mentions, the media has a virtual blackout on the subject. However, the Sierra Club is working on a new food climate campaign. Several people from the Sierra Club attended the second annual Soil Not Oil conference in Richmond, California, that Miguel Robles of Biosafety Alliance and I helped produce.

It seems as if, DiCaprio's Before the Flood team never thought to include in the documentary this solution that can actually reverse climate change. Instead, a professor interviewed in the film suggests that we switch from eating beef to chicken—without mentioning that 99 percent of all chicken on the market today is produced in a toxic, industrial, climate-killing manner. Also, there's a major difference between beef raised in metal pens and beef raised by letting cattle graze holistically.

The Solution is Literally Under Our Feet

Carbon faming is the solution to climate change. It's time for us to de-carbonize our energy and re-carbonize our soils.

Britain's Prince Charles gets it. A longtime champion of organic farming, he's joining a UK-France governmental initiative to improve the condition of global soils. Both governments are meeting with the prince to discuss the need to improve the health of soils worldwide.

Prince Charles has praised the French government's signature project on soil health, the 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate, which seeks to increase the health and organic content of soils worldwide. The Initiative aims to do this by demonstrating that agriculture, and agricultural soils in particular, can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. Those taking part in it will discuss how to restore degraded soils, improve the land's fertility and increase food security.

The Four per 1000 Initiative, launched by France at COP21 in Paris, is bringing together all willing contributors in the public and private sectors (national governments, local and regional governments, companies, trade organizations, NGOs, research facilities and others) under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. Many countries have signed, yet sadly the U.S. was a no-show at the Paris COP 21 rollout. The U.S. Department of Agriculture could still champion this win-win solution for farmers, ranchers, eaters and—yes—earthworms.

Becoming a Carbon-Literate Society

It's time for humans to become more carbon-literate. The climate movement has done so much right, and its millions of participants would love to learn how they can be part of the solution by eating a diet that's regenerative and that returns carbon to the soil. It's a basic rule we learned in preschool: Put things back where they belong. We all have a huge opportunity to share this vital educational message.

Paul Hawken's Project Drawdown is showcasing one hundred of the best climate ideas, including planned animal grazing. His team's work demonstrates that land-based solutions give us the biggest bang for the buck in our climate fight. The organization's mission is to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere through efficiency and resource productivity; replace existing energy sources with low carbon renewable energy; and bio-sequester carbon dioxide through innovative farming, grazing and reforestation practices.

We can all make a difference, every day. Here is a list of seven positive options for human and planetary health:

1. Elect climate-aware leaders.

2. Educate climate leaders about soil's redeeming powers.

3. Avoid industrial meat and milk. Instead, choose pasture-raised meats while eating less meat and dairy overall ... or just go vegan.

4. Choose organic foods, which have a lower carbon footprint.

5. Plant more trees, shrubs and herbs, all of which help to sequester carbon.

6. De-invest in firms that promote industrial ag or coal and re-invest in green energy and organic farming.

7. Share this article!

Elon Musk doesn't just want to put solar tiles on top of your house, he also wants to put them on top of your car.

According to Futurism, shortly after the enigmatic Tesla CEO unveiled his company's latest twist on rooftop solar—glass tiles integrated with solar cells—he said on a Tuesday conference call that the technology will also be used for the Model 3, the company's mass market electric sedan.

"It is using a lot of techniques used in automotive glass business. In case it wasn't obvious with the announcement, Tesla has created a glass technology group—with some really phenomenal people," Musk said on the call, basically confirming Tesla's top secret glass division.

The Model 3's all-glass roof not only allows for more headroom, its integrated solar cells also generate heat and energy. Tesla

Electrek reported that Musk will be producing "Tesla Glass" in volume since it is fairly cheap, so it makes sense to it use extensively. The publication also noted that one member of the Tesla Glass group is director Mike Pilliod, a former materials engineer for Apple who was behind innovations like the glass touchscreen.

While Musk didn't give specific details about how the solar glass would work on a car, he later tweeted that the tiles would feature heating elements that can defrost a windshield or melt snow on the car roof all while generating energy at the same time.

When asked by a Twitter user whether the tiles would be working overtime as a defroster and a generator, Musk replied that the process will be “strongly net positive," or that it will use minimal energy.

Musk has long advocated for a sustainable transportation future, and is trying to do this with his proposed acquisition of sister company SolarCity.

As if he wasn't already all over the place, Musk made an appearance in Leonardo DiCaprio's new climate change documentary Before The Flood, and told the actor and environmental activist how we must transition from dirty energy.

"The fossil fuel industry is the biggest industry in the world," Musk told DiCaprio on the floor of his Nevada Gigafactory.

"They have more money and more influence than any other sector. The more that there can be a sort of popular uprising against that, the better, but I think the scientific fact of the matter is we are unavoidably headed towards some level of harm."

The vision behind the massive battery factory is to help the world transition to sustainable energy. In a blog post on Tuesday, the Tesla team elaborated on its mission of creating "the world's only integrated sustainable energy company, from energy generation to storage to transportation."

"This is our vision for the future—one that is sustainable, less expensive and just better," the post states. "We hope you agree that this is a future we should all want."

A new documentary produced and starring actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio premieres in Los Angeles today and will be broadcast globally in 45 languages in 171 countries on the National Geographic Channel starting Oct. 30, timed to air in advance of the November elections.

The film highlights the critical role forest destruction plays in driving carbon pollution into Earth's atmosphere and focuses specifically on how the rapid spread of industrial palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia are at the heart of this crisis. The film It is directed by Fisher Stevens who, like DiCaprio, is an Academy Award winner.

Watch the exclusive clip here:

The film captures DiCaprio's visit to the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, Indonesia, where extremely high rates of forest clearance have exacerbated the climate change dilemma. Indonesia is now one of the world's top carbon emitting countries, primarily due to the massive deforestation in the region. Before the Flood notes that as it was being filmed in late 2015, man-made fires in Indonesia were spewing more carbon pollution on a daily basis than the entire U.S. economy combined. These illegal fires are an annual occurrence as a method of clearing land for palm-oil plantations. And just more than a week ago, the Indonesian government again declared a national state of emergency due to the severe impacts caused by the out of control fires.

"This important film brings much needed attention to the destruction of rainforests for palm oil, which is a huge driver of global climate change. We must aggressively address the deforestation crisis in places like Indonesia's Leuser Ecosystem," said Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. "With palm oil in roughly half of all packaged goods at the grocery store, it's up to all of us to demand major global brands like PepsiCo finally do the right thing and break the link between their products and tropical forest destruction."

DiCaprio met with Allen during the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) to discuss the urgent situation facing the Leuser Ecosystem and the critical connection between deforestation and global carbon emissions.

Following his conversation with Allen, DiCaprio's trip to the Leuser Ecosystem caused an international uproar when the Indonesian government briefly threatened him with deportation following his social media posts that drew attention to the deforestation and destruction caused by palm oil expansion. The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation later committed three years of major funding for local and international efforts to save the Leuser Ecosystem.

Watch the trailer for Before the Flood here:

By now, you have probably heard that Leonardo DiCaprio has a new documentary about climate change. So how can you watch it?

The Fisher Stevens-directed documentary will make its television debut on National Geographic's channel in 171 countries and 45 languages on Sunday, Oct. 30.

Additionally, in an unprecedented move, National Geographic also announced today that Before the Flood will premiere commercial free across digital and streaming platforms around the world as part of the network's commitment to covering climate change.

That means not only can you catch the critically acclaimed film on cable, from Oct. 30 through Nov. 6, you can also watch it on just about any website or device where you regularly stream online videos. The exhaustive list includes: Natgeotv.com, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Sony PlayStation, GooglePlay, VOD/Video On Demand (through MVPD set-top boxes), MVPD Sites and Apps, Nat Geo TV Apps (iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, Roku, Android phones, Xbox One and 360, Samsung Connected TVs) and more.

Here's DiCaprio himself making the announcement:

The idea behind this historic premiere is to educate as many people around the world about climate change and to also bring the topic to the forefront before the Nov. 8. election where a number of candidates seeking public office—including a certain orange-hued Republican—denies that climate change is even real.

"There is no greater threat to the future of our society than climate change, and it must be a top issue for voters this election season," said DiCaprio, an Oscar-winning actor-winning actor and prominent environmental activist. "Fisher and I set out to make a film to educate people around the planet on the urgent issues of climate change and to inspire them to be part of the solution. I applaud National Geographic for their commitment to bringing this film to as many people as possible at such a critical time."

"The level of support National Geographic is providing to create awareness about climate change is exactly what Leo and I were looking for when we made this film," Stevens added. "Climate change is real, and we are feeling its effects more and more every day; it's time we stop arguing its existence, and do everything we can to bring this issue to the forefront of people's minds so that real action is taken to combat climate change."

The documentary has already made its theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 21. It has also been shown at international film festivals, the United Nations and at the White House South By South Lawn event before President Obama.

The film is also screening at more 250 colleges and universities nationwide and being made available to churches and religious institutions via Interfaith Power and Light, National Geographic said. The network has partnered with Rock the Vote and theSkimm to allow people who attend screenings of Before The Flood to register to vote and to become informed on the issues.

"In our minds, there is no more important story to tell, no more important issue facing our planet than that of climate change," said Courteney Monroe, the CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. "At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and this unprecedented release across digital and streaming platforms is not only a first for our network but also in our industry, underscoring how exceptional we think this film is and how passionate we are about it. We are committed to ensuring as many people as possible see this film as we head into U.S. elections."

Before The Flood, as well as the award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, will kick off the National Geographic Channel's "Earth Week"—a week of programming starting Oct. 30 dedicated to bringing awareness to issues surrounding climate change.

Before The Flood depicts how Earth is changing due to rising temperatures and how individuals and society-at-large can help preserve our precious environment. DiCaprio travels around the world to interview a number of world leaders and experts about climate change, including President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Secretary-General Ki-Moon, Pope Francis, Elon Musk as well as top NASA researchers, forest conservationists, scientists, community leaders and other environmental activists.

The film was produced by DiCaprio, Stevens, Brett Ratner and James Packer and executive produced by Martin Scorsese. Watch the trailer here:

The rate at which Arctic sea ice is shrinking due to climate change continues to make headlines as scientists monitor and predict what is "becoming a journey into uncharted territory."

Recent data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center revealed sea ice in the Arctic hit its summer low point, tying 2007 for the second lowest extent on record.

With global temperatures on the rise and already at levels not seen in 100,000 years, melting Arctic sea ice is only expected to get worse as temperatures there are warming at least twice as fast as the global average. Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said he wouldn't be surprised if the Arctic were "essentially ice free" by 2030.

"Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic is driving sea level rise, affecting weather patterns around the world and may trigger even more changes in the climate system," according to the World Meteorological Organization.

As part of his climate change documentary, Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio visited the Arctic with National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr. Enric Sala to see for himself what is happening in the region.

While walking with DiCaprio on the edge of the sea ice in the high Canadian Arctic, Sala told him that "we will not be able to stand on the frozen sea anymore in about 25 years."

Scientific projections, he said, show that by 2040 there's going to be almost no sea ice left in the entire Arctic.

Sala sat down with National Geographic to answer five questions regarding the critical state of Earth's sea ice, and what it means for us. Watch here:

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