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10 Documentaries About Climate Change That You Need to Watch Right Now

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10 Documentaries About Climate Change That You Need to Watch Right Now

Here at MyCarbon, our mission is to help you find the right balance between life’s everyday activities and minimising your impact on the environment. Not only do we aim to guide you through reducing and offsetting your carbon footprint, but we also try to raise awareness about the challenging issues climate change presents to us. Our blog is a great source for reading up on a variety of climate-change related topics, with our writers coming from a variety of different backgrounds - all keen to deliver you insightful and educational content. However, if reading isn’t for you, then let us share some of our favourite documentaries and films that tackle climate crisis topics. We understand that we are all in the fight against climate change together, and love to support other companies, charities, and resources who are putting in effort to raise awareness about some of the most important issues of our time. So without further ado, here are some of our favourites:

1. Before the Flood

Release Date: 2016

Duration: 1hr 36m

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Where to Watch It: Disney+, Amazon Prime (from £3.49) YouTube (from £3.78), Google Play (from £3.50)

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award®-winning actor, environmental activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio, Before the Flood presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change. The documentaries follows DiCaprio as he travels to five different continents and the Artic to witness climate change first hand. He goes on expeditions with scientists uncovering the reality of climate change and meets with political leaders fighting against inaction. He also discovers a calculated disinformation campaign orchestrated by powerful special interests working to confuse the public about the urgency of the growing climate crisis. This powerful documentary aims to educate viewers on the actions we as individuals and as a society can take to prevent the disruption of life on our planet. Beyond the steps we can take as individuals, the film urges viewers to push their elected officials in supporting the use of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. 

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2. Chasing Ice

Release Date: 2012

Duration: 1h 16m 

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix, Amazon Prime (from £3.99), Apple TV (from £3.49)

Chasing Ice follows acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog as he heads to the Arctic on an assignment for National Geographic: to capture images of the Earth’s changing climate. Shocked by what he discovers, Balog embarks on a mission to change the tide of history by deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the Arctic in an attempt to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers and gather undeniable evidence of our changing planet. Chasing Ice is eye-opening and a must-see, and is a 2014 Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Nature Programming, as well as winning the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014.

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3. Chasing Coral

Release Date: 2017

Duration: 1h 33m 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix

If the documentation of the titanic collapse of the Arctic glaciers wasn’t convincing enough for you, Chasing Coral follows a similar narrative, but over a much shorter timespan. Directed by the same guy who directed Chasing Ice, Jeff Orlowski, Chasing Coral documents the unprecedented rate at which coral reefs around the world are vanishing. The camera crew follows a team of divers, photographers, and scientists as they set out to discover why the reefs are vanishing, and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. The film took more than three years to shoot and is the result of over 500 hours of underwater footage. It features the work of volunteers from 340 different countries, as well as support from more than 500 people across the world. The cinematography is stunningly beautiful and gripping to watch, and will undoubtably make you want to stop what you’re doing and go save the coral reefs.

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4. Kiss The Ground

Release Date: 2020

Duration: 1h 24m 

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix

Narrated by actor and environmentalist Woody Harrelson, Kiss The Ground makes a compelling case for the healing power of soil, arguing that its capacity to sequester carbon could be the key to reversing the effects of climate change. Its focus is most on American agriculture, but also includes inspiring examples from across the world, and holds significant universal relevance as the damaging, intensive agricultural practices discussed in the documentary are used globally. Most importantly, Kiss The Ground adds scientific finesse with celebrity endorsement to the black and white consideration of livestock in most anti-meat films and other communications that have so influenced viewers in recent years. It does this by distinguishing between the livestock systems that are an essential part of the solution to creating a healthy planet, a healthy population and a stable climate, and those industrialised livestock systems that are very much part of the problem. It is an astonishing and awe-inspiring documentary that focuses on the positive possible outcomes without taking away from the grave reality of current commercial agriculture, and is a definite must-watch. 

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5. Our Planet

Release Date: 2019

Duration: 8 episodes, between 48 - 53 minutes long

IMDb Rating: 9.3/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix

Our Planet, narrated by David Attenborough, is not just another ‘Planet Earth’. Whilst it holds similarities, such as coming from Alistair Fothergill who created the landmark series, and taking place over eight different episodes that each focus on specific environments, Our Planet has one crucial and distinct difference: its focus on climate change and the effects it is having on the environment and wildlife. It melds the beautiful cinematography and stunning scores from Oscar-winning composer Steven Price with the stark reality that, unless we make a monumental collective effort as mankind to adapt our ways of life, our beautiful planet earth as we know it will continue to suffer. Our Planet is the winner of two Emmy Awards®, and is narrated by Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz to guide Spanish audiences from Latin America and Spain, respectively.

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6. A Life on Our Planet

Release Date: 2020

Duration: 1h 54m

IMDb Rating: 9/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix

Whilst this documentary also features David Attenborough, it takes a different approach to addressing climate change by focusing on how much the world’s biodiversity has changed and diminished during Attenborough’s career. Calling the film his “witness statement” for the environment, David Attenborough recalls how his career was shaped by air travel, which enabled him to be one of the first to document exotic flora and fauna on film. The documentary combines modern-day footage with footage of him as a young producer encountering the world for the first time in order to illustrate the devastating consequences human behaviour has had on the world. 

Despite the shocking global crises that Attenborough predicts for the future, he finds hope by extrapolating small successes. Sustainable farming in the Netherlands has made the country one of the worldwide leaders in food exports. Fishing restrictions around the Pacific archipelago nation of Palau enabled marine life to rebound. The film’s grand achievement is that it positions its subject as a mediator between humans and the natural world. Life cycles on, and if we make the right choices, ruin can become regrowth.

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7. A Plastic Ocean

Release Date: 2016

Duration: 1h 42m

IMDb Rating: 8/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix, Apple TV (from £3.49), Amazon Prime (from £3.49)

A Plastic Ocean dives into and investigates the devastating impacts that plastic has caused to our environment, especially our marine life. What starts off as an adventure to film the blue whale, the largest animal on the planet, leads to the shocking discovery of a thick layer of plastic debris floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Director Craig Leeson, an Australian journalist, and  Tanya Streeter, a world record-breaking free diver and environmental activist, then travel across the globe to report on the havoc caused by decades of plastic use. The documentary is heavy with contrasting footage of beautiful marine environments, and over-polluted cities full of plastic waste. Experts provide further insight into some of the problems derived from plastic, and the overarching message is that all of our actions have consequences. The documentary does, however, offer various strategies that can be implemented to reduce the impact of plastics. Ideally, avoid plastic-containing products as much as possible. Avoid single-use plastic products and recycle whatever you can. Local governments also need to implement a refund scheme for the return of plastic bottles to incentivise recycling.

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8. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Release Date: 2017

Duration: 1h 39m

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix

In 2006, former US Vice President Al Gore released his environmental documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, in an effort to educate people about global warming. It stormed the international box office and became one of the most successful documentaries to have been produced, ultimately helping Al Gore win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in promoting action against climate change. 10 years on and Al Gore produced a second documentary, combining the science behind climate change, the social impact is has, and the political obstacles that still face us today. It also chronicles the steps that have been taken in recent history to reverse climate change, with Al Gore connecting the dots for viewers and delivering a very persuasive wake-up call. 

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9. Racing Extinction

Release Date: 2015

Duration: 1h 34m

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10

Where to Watch It: Apple TV (from £3.49), Amazon Prime (from £3.49), Google Play (from £3.49)

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Louie Psihoyos, Racing Extinction is an eco-thriller documentary that tackles the topic of the 6th mass extinction. With the help of environmentalists, artists, and engineers, Psihoyos provides undeniable facts and footage to expose the hidden truths surrounding extinction. This new mass extinction is potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. The documentary tackles tough subjects, such as the international wildlife trade and the oil and gas industries. Using covert tactics and state-of-the-art technology, the Racing Extinction team exposes the shocking realities of our world in an inspiring affirmation to preserve life as we know it.

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10. The Game Changers

Release Date: 2018

Duration: 1h 52m

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

Where to Watch It: Netflix, Apple TV (from £0.99), Amazon Prime (from £0.99), Google Play (from £0.99), Vimeo

The Game Changers is a star-studded documentary that investigates the benefits of plant-based diets for athletes. It takes a hard-line stance on veganism and meat consumption, and focuses both on the positive impacts that a meat-free diet can have on both the environment and one’s health. Of course, the experts, scientists and athletes featured in The Game Changers may be considered bias, but that does not take away from how great a documentary it is – they make a very compelling argument for you to reduce your meat consumption if you haven’t already. It is a great watch if you are looking for something that isn’t entirely rooted in environmentalism, but still has a good connection to environmental issues. 

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