We live in an age of climate change, and it’s the responsibility of policymakers, big business, and the everyday family to curb this decline. A key element of this battle is to raise awareness and shine a light on the impact of climate change. Journalists and filmmakers are critical to this mission, and have contributed to a catalogue of accounts.
In this article, we look at 10 of the best climate change documentaries around. Each of these is a must-see for those interested in the global switch to green energy.
Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the documentary that has arguably done more to raise awareness for the subject of climate change than any other. Director Davis Guggenheim takes what started out as a simple presentation by former presidential candidate Al Gore and turns it into an impassioned educational movie. The film won two Academy Awards, and at the same open many people’s eyes up to the trust about the issue.
A year later, buoyed by the success of Al Gore’s movie, Leonardo DiCaprio lent his support to the movement in a big way, as he co-wrote and narrated this insightful documentary about the challenges posed by climate change. Through interviews with experts in many scientific fields, as well as prominent activists and politicians, the film sought to convince viewers, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the planet was in danger and that action needed to be taken immediately if we were to have any chance of reversing the negative consequences.
Unlike most of the others on this list, this is a documentary-drama, and it stars legendary actor Pete Postlethwaite. The premise is simple, and also easy to envisage. The year is 2055, and the planet has been all but destroyed thanks to our ineffective battle against the consequences of climate change. The characters are left to rue the poor decisions made by the generations before them, as it’s now too late to save the what’s left of our once thriving home.
Director Jon Shenk follows the story of the real-life president of the Maldives at the time, Mohamed Nasheed, and his battle against the rising sea levels surrounding the many Islands in the Indian Ocean. It’s the last problem the lowest-lying country in the world needs, and we learn that a rise of just 3 feet would cause many of the 1200 islands that make up the Maldives to be submerged.
The melting of the Arctic ice caps is often pointed to as evidence for global warming, and it is also a major factor causing sea levels to rise to potentially catastrophic levels. Jeff Orlowski’s documentary received an Oscar nomination for the images that were captured while scientist James Balog and his team recorded the melt rate in Greenland, Iceland and Alaska. The resulting film is at once visually stunning and haunting.
This feature is inspired by the Naomi Oreskes book of the same name, and it looks at the PR tactics used by many industries to obscure information to the public that may be harmful to them. Such tactics were developed by the tobacco industry to cover up the health risks, but they have since been employed companies whose emissions contribute substantially to global warming. The series of interviews with experts from both sides makes for compelling viewing.
Jordan Brown’s film was adapted from an essay of the same name, and it focuses on the futility of individual gestures, such taking shorter showers, when compared with lobbying businesses and governments in order to encourage more dramatic action. It aims to convince you that real progress can be made if only big industries are called upon to take responsibility and make suitable changes to their practices.
Last year seemingly ushered in a new wave of documentaries on the subject, such as this from Josh Fox, who already has an Oscar nomination to his name for his 2010 film about fracking, Gasland. His latest project takes us on a journey through 6 countries on 12 continents as it explores the consequence of rising temperatures around the globe.
We’ve already touched upon Leonardo DiCaprio’s support of the climate change movement, but The 11th Hour isn’t the only project of its kind he’s been involved with. Barack Obama and the Pope, along with many high-profile others, are also enlisted by the makers of Before the Floor to get their point across. Not since An Inconvenient Truth has an environmental film made such an impact in trying to raise awareness further.
This beautiful picture, which is narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, is a collaboration between IMAX and NASA that showcases the view of earth from the perspective of those on board the International Space Station. While the footage may be a treat for the eyes, there’s also a more serious intention here, like all of the others on this list. The movie highlights the changes our planet has gone through over the years and explains negative effects that humans have had on it.
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