Five Must-See Climate Change Documentaries

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6 Mins Read

Ever since An Inconvenient Truth was released in 2006, the power of the documentary to engage the world in a discussion-sometimes controversial, always colourful- about climate change can’t be denied. In the past twelve months with the climate change debate becoming more and more ubiquitous across all mainstream media, a host of new documentaries have surfaced, each with its own unique perspective. When it comes to an issue that is as divisive as climate change, we are fans of understanding multiple viewpoints to form the fullest picture (ahem) possible. While far from exhaustive, the list below highlights some of the recent stars of the crop of climate films to be released. So grab some organic popcorn and get watching. We all need to and deserve to know about the future of our home planet.

How To Let Go Of The World

1. This Changes Everything

Based on the best-selling 2014 book Canadian author Naomi Klein,  This Changes Everything,  which came in second at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, investigates the question of whether capitalism prevents any meaningful changes to fight climate change, summed up in the trailer as: capitalism vs. climate. The film was directed by Klein’s husband, Avi Lewis, and boasts Alfonso Cuaron, Danny Glover and Seth MacFarlane as producers. Shot over four years on five different continents, the film follows seven groups of people from around the world who are all impacted by climate change as they work to fight the destruction to their communities brought about by industrial growth. Klein herself sits on the board of 350.org, a group dedicated to fighting climate change, and is well known in the media for her anti-globalization and anti-corporate stance. The book and the film make no apologies for her very clear stance: the excesses of capitalism have resulted in environmental damage the world over. At its heart, This Changes Everything hopes to empower and encourage its viewers to use climate change as a launching pad to inspire environmental and societal change.

ice and the sky poster

2. Ice and the Sky (La Glace et le Ciel)

Chosen as the final film of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Ice and the Sky follows respected French glaciologist Claude Lorius, the first person to raise the alarm bells regarding global warming in a 1965 piece in scientific journal Nature based on his years studying ice and snow in Antarctica from 1957 onwards. His commitment to the cause is second to none: he spent that first year (1957) in a tiny 250 square foot bunker in Antartica. Directed by Academy Award winning French director Luc Jacquet, who wrote and directed March of the Penguins, the film follows the highly decorated 83 year-old Lorius around the planet as he visits landscapes that have been visibly impacted by climate change, all captured with breathtaking cinematography. Using old footage and animation, the film explores how Lorius developed many of the scientific techniques commonly used today to study climate change and the arctic regions. By the end, viewers will have a new understanding of climate change in the modern era, as well an appreciation for Lorius’ passion for knowledge and adventure that helped uncover it. Ice and the Sky is also a multimedia project in collaboration with non-profit Association Wild-Touch, which includes television features and an educational program.

how to let go of

3. How To Let Go Of The World (And Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change)

An official selection at Sundance 2016, How To Let Go Of The World (And Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change), is a brand new documentary from Josh Fox, whose 2010 movie Gasland was nominated for an Academy Award. Fox’s passion for climate change (and the impetus for Gasland) began when his family was offered 100, 000 USD in exchange for allowing fracking on their land. His curiosity sparked, he began looking into fracking and has since become one of its most vocal opponents. In his new film, Fox travels to 12 countries and meets with many prominent US environmentalists such as Van Jones and Bill McKibben to try to answer his main question: what if we can’t stop global warming?

racing_extinction

4. Racing Extinction

Both a movie and a platform for change, Racing Extinction explores one of the most important issues caused by climate change, namely the rapid loss of as much as 50% of our planet’s animal species, expected to happen over the next 100 years. This beautifully shot movie, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival 2015, was made by Academy-Award-winner Louie Psihoyos, who also directed the award-winning The Cove and who began his career as a photographer for National Geographic. From the Oceanic Preservation Society and in partnership with the Discovery Channel, this big-budget eco flick includes appearances from big shots Elon Musk (who also helped finance it) and Jane Goodall. You may have heard about the film thanks to the beautiful displays for endangered species on world landmarks like the Empire State Building and St. Peter’s Basilica, all part of the Oceanic Preservation Society‘s awareness campaign. The film delves into various symptoms of global warming that are devastating world wildlife populations, such as the black markets for animal parts such as shark fins. It also considers the connection between climate change and decreasing animal populations, outright naming carbon dioxide levels as the culprit. The premise that humanity can be as harmful as a meteor or a giant volcano is certainly hard to fathom but the film very convincingly connects the dots between our actions and the fate of many species.

climate hustle

5. Climate Hustle

As we said in our intro, it’s important to get a 360 view of a conversation. There are a fair share of climate change deniers (or climate skeptics as they prefer to be called) out there,  and it’s worth understanding their arguments by viewing this documentary that explores the other side of the coin. Self-proclaimed as the anti-An Inconvenient Truth, Climate Hustle is unapologetic in its premise that people who believe in climate change are suckers. Be warned: reading positive reviews may cause your blood to boil. Created by the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a non-profit group funded by the Donors Trust (who in turn funds many similar causes and is linked to the Koch brothers), the film discusses climate change with a variety of scientists who claim that their questioning of the science behind global warming left them labeled as heretics in a move one compares to the French witchcraft trials of the 1200s! It is rather alarming how many scientists with excellent CVs are highlighted in the film, and it is always important to realise that for many the case is still not closed…

Want More? Climate Change Classics

For those who have not seen Al Gore’s 2006 classic magnum opus on climate change, make some time: An Inconvenient Truth is the movie that many say changed the conversation on global warming. The film’s producer saw Gore present a slideshow at a town-hall meeting and was instantly inspired to turn it into a documentary. Winner of two Academy Awards, An Inconvenient Truth makes an unarguable case about the effects of global warming and the potential consequences of non-action.

Released in 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental call-to-arms The 11th Hour enlists a wide variety of expert voices, including Stephen Hawking and Wangari Maathai, to argue that climate change is a threat to the very existence of humanity, while also providing hope and solutions,  from moving away from consumerism to an exploration of the plethora of technology- and sustainability-based solutions available.


Image Credits: This Changes Everything, Ice and the Sky, How To Let Go Of The World, Racing Extinction, Climate Hustle, and An Inconvenient Truth


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