Feb 10, 2023 • Emmeline Clein
Every day seems to bring more news about COVID-19’s spread across the globe. Bogged down by constant coronavirus coverage, we risk forgetting about other urgent crises facing our planet, most importantly, climate change. In between the next two shows you binge watch this quarantine, give yourself a refresher course on climate change, sustainable solutions, and our planet’s history with one (or all!) of these climate-focused documentaries.
Released on Netflix last April, this British docu-series focuses on the way climate change affects animal life across the globe. David Attenborough narrates in a soothing British accent, taking you from coastal aquatic ecosystems to rainforests and deserts, documenting how all these spaces are under siege from encroaching human-induced climate change. This series basically combines a national geographic style tour of the world’s natural wonders with eloquent, lucid scientific explanations of how we got here.
This documentary will change the way you think about your next meal. It’s a deep dive into the American food system, following the trail of devastation big agribusiness has left in its wake by telling the story of a seventh-generation, independent farmer in Illinois. You’ll learn how large agriculture corporations’ farming practices degrade our soil, waste massive amounts of water, and overuse pesticides, but also how we can build a better food system to replace this one.
This series comes from the progressive news organization The Young Turks, and follows three journalists as they embark on a trip to the arctic to see how climate change is affecting local native live, arctic wildlife, and deep north ecosystems overall. They draw connections between the north pole’s ecosystem and weather patterns all over the world, and tell their stories in an honest, inspiring voice. The episodes clock in at less than twenty minutes each, and you can watch them on youtube.
After you watch this 2015 documentary about the fast-fashion industry, you’ll never be able to shop online at Zara the same way again. In addition to revealing how exploitative the industry is for garment workers, the film also reveals all the hidden climate costs of fast fashion, from the way factories foster river and soil pollution, contaminate crops, spread disease, and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
If all those movies are starting to make you pessimistic, finish off your film syllabus with 2040, an Australian documentary that came out last year. Filmmaker Damon Gameau imagines the world he hopes his young daughter can inherit twenty years from now, and it’s a much healthier, happier one than we currently live in. He looks at technologies like renewable energy sources and potential futuristic mass transit solutions, and remains optimistic even as he lays out how difficult our journey to this future will be.