If you’re hoping to educate yourself on the topic of climate change – or want to share the information with others – a climate change documentary is one of the best ways to do it.
Documentaries distill complex information into an interesting format that’s much easier to digest than scientific studies and the latest NGO reports.
But where do you start?
Many documentaries have been made about environmental topics in recent years – picking one can seem overwhelming.
Additionally, there are also some pseudo-documentaries out there you’ll want to avoid, as they’re based on fiction more than actual research.
We’ve done the search for you – and compiled ten of the best climate change documentaries you can watch.
You can’t go wrong with a Sir David Attenborough documentary.
This 2019 Netflix series explains and shows some of the planet’s most important and precious habitats, as well as how they’re being affected by climate change.
This is a very good entry point into climate change documentaries, as it explains the climate crisis effects in context and shows real impacts.
The eight-episode series is certainly worth a watch and will take you on a deep, impactful journey.
The 2040 documentary takes a more positive look on the topic – rather than showcasing the devastating effects climate change will have unless we act, it focuses on what will happen if we DO make a change.
Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau travels the world, talking to people who are in the front row of the climate change fight and discusses how our world can change for the better if their innovations and systems are widely put into use.
An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth by former Vice President Al Gore, and its sequel An Inconvenient Sequel, are both great data-driven presentations of reality and decision-makers’ reluctance to make a change.
Aside from presenting the basic facts, it also ties climate change effects to tangible differences in the world.
However, one downside is that the first instalment is now nearly 15 years old and doesn’t include more recent data.
The True Cost
The True Cost is not technically a climate change documentary – however, it discusses one of the largest current contributors to climate change: fast fashion. This is a must-watch, especially for anybody interested in fashion or buying a lot of clothing.
It does an excellent job of showing how urgent it is for us to take action against climate change and other environmental threats by not buying fast fashion garments.
Before the Flood
While not everyone may be a fan of environmental documentaries backed by celebrities, it’s undeniable that Leonardo DiCaprio has lent Before the Flood the budgets and exposure it wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.
The documentary observes the changes in natural areas due to climate change and also features several interviews with experts in the field, as well as then-president Barack Obama, Elon Musk and – yes – Pope Francis.
The 2014 film made by Kip Anderson was highly polarizing – which is exactly why you should watch it. It presents the heavy-hitting impacts of animal agriculture on the environment and its shockingly high contributions to climate change.
Kip Andersen then embarks on a journey to find out how come that this is not common knowledge and encounters how strong the power of animal agriculture is on the economic and political scene.
While in the 6 years since Cowspiracy was released, a lot has changed and we’re all now much more aware of the issue than we were just those 6 years ago, it’s still very much worth a watch, to make you think a little more about what you put on your plate.
Ice on Fire
Ice on Fire is another documentary associated with Leonardo DiCaprio – what can we say, the concept of attaching a celebrity name to a documentary simply works in securing budgets and viewership.
Ice on Fire takes a deeper look at the melting of the ice caps and the effects this has and will have on our world.
Aside from these devastating impacts, the documentary also shows a beacon of hope – climate projects working to stop and reverse the effects of the climate crisis.
What happens if the proper authorities refuse to take action in fighting climate change?
The document presents the work of activists who were sick of waiting and watching the world burn as decision-makers always seemed to have something better to talk about.
Tracing some of the most ambitious and successful climate activism groups, the documentary gives hope to those of us who feel like the government is not doing anything to tackle the crisis.
Climate Change: The Facts
It doesn’t get more straightforward than Sir David Attenborough’s Climate Change: The Facts. Just Attenborough’s attachment to the project makes it a worthwhile watch.
The documentary does exactly what the title promises – explores the scientific findings on the effects of the climate crisis. The documentary also features interviews with leading climate scientists and activists.
This is an ideal place to start – or a great documentary to share with your loved ones who may not be as informed about climate change.
Fire in Paradise
Californian wildfires are one of the natural disasters of today’s world the effects of which have been largely increased by progressing climate change. Fire in Paradise has a very human angle to it – instead of showcasing data, it visits the small town Paradise, where 2018 wildfires killed 85 people and caused $16.5 billion in material damage.
The documentary traces the disaster step by step, explains how quickly and unpredictably the fires have spread and ties the situation in with the effects of climate change.
Love documentaries? Don’t miss our picks for the best vegan documentaries here.