Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our planet today. Polluted air and steadily rising temperatures are linked to health issues ranging from increased heart attacks and heat strokes to the spread of infectious diseases and psychological trauma.
One of the many struggles with communicating climate change is its complexity. It both exacerbates naturally occurring events — like floods, droughts, hurricanes, disease spread, and more — and forces those who contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions to suffer the most. When these kinds of forces — that seemingly feel out of our control — are blended together it can feel quite hopeless.
However, there’s so much being done across the globe that’s creating meaningful, incremental change.
Documentaries are a powerful tool for bringing important environmental issues to the forefront of our minds, inspiring us to engage with the topic and inspiring us to take practical and immediate action.
From the devastating effects of plastic pollution, to innovative approaches to regenerative agriculture, these films offer a glimpse into the state of the planet and the work that is being done to address the challenges we face.
Whether you’re already an environmentalist or simply looking to gain a deeper understanding of the issues facing our planet, these documentaries provide a thought-provoking and inspiring look at the world around us.
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Dive Into These Documentaries About Climate Change
Kiss the Ground (2020)
Narrated by and featuring Woody Harrelson, “Kiss the Ground” is an inspiring and groundbreaking documentary film that explores the potential of regenerative agriculture to heal the planet and help mitigate the effects of climate change.
The film features a range of experts and advocates for regenerative agriculture — including farmers, ranchers, scientists, and activists — who explain how this type of farming can improve soil health, reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, and help create a more sustainable future for the planet.
Through a combination of storytelling, stunning imagery, and scientific analysis, the film unpacks its case for the transformative power of regenerative agriculture to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)
If you need a little reminder of both the beauty and wonder that this world beholds and why it needs our protection, “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet” is a great start.
In this documentary film, one of the world’s most respected naturalists, Sir David Attenborough (you might recognize his iconic voiceovers) combines stunning footage from his over 60 years of broadcasting and filmmaking to provide a powerful call to action for global action on climate change and conservation.
How to watch: Netflix
I Am Greta (2020)
Greta Thunberg — one of the most well-known climate activists today — was only 15 years old when she protested outside the Swedish parliament in 2018.
“I Am Greta” highlights the young activist’s rise to global fame and the impact her activism had on both herself and the world.
The documentary also provides a behind-the-scenes look at Greta’s life as she travels the world speaking at rallies, meetings with world leaders, and her experiences dealing with online hate and media attention.
Through interviews with her family and friends, the film offers an intimate perspective on the personal sacrifices and challenges faced by Greta as she becomes one of the most prominent voices for environmental activism in the world.
How to watch: Hulu
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
For many of us, Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was one of the first climate change documentaries that opened our eyes to the serious effects of global warming.
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, this film presents a visual on the science of global warming and its potential consequences — including rising sea levels, devastating hurricanes, and the melting of the polar ice caps.
The film also encourages viewers to become informed and involved in efforts to combat climate change.
Since its release in 2006, Gore has continued to speak out about the climate crisis, with his follow-up documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (2017)” looking at the efforts being made to tackle the issue.
Remothering the Land (2021)
The documentary focuses on the efforts of regenerative agriculture and its potential to mitigate climate change, improve soil health, and enhance food security.
Showcasing farmers and ranchers who are leading the way in this practice and the impact it has on their communities and the environment, “Remothering the Land” highlights the importance of regenerative agriculture in creating a more sustainable future for all.
How to watch: YouTube
“Gather” is an intimate documentary film that explores the relationship between Indigenous communities, the land, and its resources. The film highlights the importance of Indigenous knowledge and finding solutions to the current global climate crisis.
Executive producers Jason Momoa and Brian Mendoza follow the efforts of Indigenous communities to preserve their ancestral lands and cultural traditions and the role of these communities in the fight for environmental justice.
The film beautifully showcases the resilience and strength of these frontline communities as they work to heal the land and provide a sustainable future for future generations.
Award-winning director Damon Gameau embarks on a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we embrace the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet.
The film features interviews with experts in various fields and showcases innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, including climate change, pollution, and food security. O
ffering an optimistic way forward, Gameau sets out a positive (and realistic) that we can all get on board with.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (2018)
“Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” covers various aspects of human-caused changes to the Earth’s systems, including the mass extinction of species, the alteration of ecosystems, and the depletion of natural resources.
The film, narrated by Alicia Vikander, portrays stunning imagery and expert commentary on the global scale of the climate crisis and the urgency of action to mitigate its effects.
It also highlights the need for a fundamental change in the way we interact with the planet, emphasizing the role of science and innovation in finding solutions to the environmental challenges we face.
The Biggest Little Farm (2018)
“The Biggest Little Farm” follows the journey of John and Molly Chester, a couple who leave their busy city life for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature.
The film showcases their struggles and successes as they learn about regenerative farming practices and the challenges of growing food in a changing environment. The couple works to create a diverse, interdependent ecosystem that includes crops, livestock, and wildlife.
Highlighting the importance of sustainable agriculture in creating a healthy environment, this film serves as a testament to the power of hard work, resilience, and passion for the land.
Through their journey, the Chesters come to understand the complex relationships between soil, water, air, and all living things — and their role in preserving the planet for future generations.
Before the Flood (2016)
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor and environmental advocate, Leonardo DiCaprio, “Before the Flood” explores the effects of climate change and the actions needed to prevent its catastrophic consequences.
The film takes a comprehensive look at the science of climate change and how it is affecting the planet, as well as the political and economic forces behind it.
It features interviews with experts and policymakers, as well as action steps that we as individuals and as a society can take to address climate change.
How to watch: Disney+
Doughnut Economics (2017)
“Doughnut Economics” by Dutch filmmaker Alexander Oey follows economist, researcher, and author Kate Raworth as she gives us a taste of an alternative economic model that emphasizes the balance of social and environmental boundaries.
The documentary explores the concept of “doughnut economics,” a framework for sustainable development based on the idea of creating economic systems that meet the needs of all people within the boundaries of the planet’s ecological limits.
The film features interviews with experts in the field and showcases real-world examples of how the doughnut economics model can be applied in practice — shaping our world and ensuring a sustainable future for all.
How to watch: YouTube
A Plastic Ocean (2016)
“A Plastic Ocean” sheds light on the damaging effects of plastic pollution on the world’s oceans and its sensitive (yet wildly resilient) inhabitants.
The documentary follows a team of researchers, journalists, and divers as they explore plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and the impact it has on marine life and the ecosystem.
Through their journey, they discover the shocking amount of ocean plastic and its devastating effects on marine life, including entanglement, ingestion, and habitat destruction.
The film highlights the urgent need for action to address this issue and the steps we can take to reduce our use of plastic and protect the oceans.
The Magnitude of All Things (2020)
In this documentary film, director Jennifer Abbott explores the impact of human actions on the environment and the planet.
The film focuses on the consequences of our behavior and how it has led to the current state of the world, including climate change, loss of biodiversity, and depletion of resources.
It features interviews with scientists, experts, and activists and offers a comprehensive look at the challenges facing our planet and what we can do to mitigate the damage.
Abbott aims to raise awareness and encourage action, and this documentary serves as a call for individuals and governments to work together to tackle the environmental crisis.
How to watch: Tubi
Chasing Coral (2017)
“Chasing Coral” highlights the rapid decline of coral reefs around the world and the impact this loss has on our ocean ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them for food and livelihoods.
Follow a team of divers, photographers, and scientists as they document the coral bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef and the cause behind it (spoiler alert: it’s global warming).
The film sheds light on the urgent need to reduce our carbon footprint and the positive impact individual actions can have on the environment.
Consider this film a call to action and a reminder of the critical role coral reefs play in maintaining the health of our oceans and the planet as a whole.
How to watch: Netflix
How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change (2016)
“How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change” explores the impacts of climate change and the efforts being made to mitigate its effects.
The film follows Oscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox as he travels around the world to witness the devastating consequences of global warming and to meet with activists and experts who are working to address the issue.
Through his journey, Fox grapples with the realities of climate change and the hopeful qualities — like courage, resilience, and innovation — that people rely on in the ongoing fight to save our planet.
How to watch: Vimeo