Climate change and environmental issues are a central part of most conversations about urban planning, food production, waste disposal and transportation. Educational documentaries provide a platform for thoughtful, informed and potentially game-changing conversations on these topics. These are times of change, and many socially-conscious people and places are taking the lead to address climate change. Many high-quality environmental documentaries are available, and here are some of the best.
1.The True Cost (2015)
The fashion industry is a glitzy, glamorous affair with celebrity endorsements and ground-breaking designs that bring in a great deal of money for designers and fashion executives. However, there is a dark side to this industry which is clearly illustrated in The True Cost. As the price of clothing decreases, the environmental and humanitarian costs grow. This documentary is filmed in countries across the world and features interviews by Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva. This is a movie directed by Andrew Morgan, and it can be viewed online on Netflix.
2. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2015)
This movie was filmed in nine countries to illustrate the issues faced by seven different communities as a result of climate change. Using film footage collected over a period of four years, director Avi Lewis presents stories of struggle based on Naomi Klein’s book of the same name. The goal of the film is not to paint a sad picture but to encourage proactive community involvement. Montana, India, Canada, Beijing and Greece are featured as communities ignite a course towards change. There are still screenings around the country but the film can now be bought on iTunes and Amazon.
3. Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014)
This documentary addresses the well-known floating plastic island called The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which contains plastics from three continents and sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – not a paradise, but a dump. Journalist and filmmaker Angela Sun speaks with scientists, researchers and volunteers who offer their perspectives on the world’s consumption of plastic, and she provides the viewer with the shocking discovery that the problem is much worse than many might believe. This fascinating film can be viewed on DirecTV or bought on their site.
4. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)
Filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn offer a rarely seen view into the beef industry in this film. The film reveals that animal agriculture is a highly destructive industry that threatens the world – yet most environmental organizations don’t bring this to our attention. Animal agriculture creates more greenhouse gasses than any other modern industry. Blamed for the loss of habitat and topsoil while also harming the oceans, this industry is rarely challenged by environmental organizations, and there is a frightening reason why this is the case. This film can be downloaded from the filmmakers’ website.
5. The Penguin Counters (2015)
This 2015 film is truly about counting penguins, as a low-budget team of field biologists visit Antarctica to gauge the impact of climate change in some of the most fragile regions of the world. Filmmakers Peter Getzels and Harriet Gordon clear the way for biologist Ron Naveen to share his thirty years of knowledge about penguins and climate change with the world. The penguins are dying, and Naveen shares his perspective about why this is the case and what we can do to change it. The Penguin Counters is not yet available on DVD but you can see what they’re up to on their website.
These five films offer a broad perspective of a variety of environmental issues facing our world as a result of climate change – many of the issues that are examined remain unaddressed. However, these films act as a call to action, giving many viewers a chance to make a difference and help save our planet.