8 Best Environmental Documentaries You Need to See: The Power of Film

With climate change (and the resulting environmental disasters) at the forefront of our minds now more than ever, there is no better time to watch some of the best ecological documentaries.

Whether you’re looking to educate yourself on environmental issues or want to be entertained, environmental documentaries can seriously improve how you see the world.

These documentaries nail the balance between education and entertainment while inspiring you to take action to preserve the environment.

Animal documentaries

8 Best Environmental Documentaries To Watch 

1. Seaspiracy by Ali Tabrizi

Seaspiracy by Ali Tabrizi is an environmental documentary highlighting how humans destroy the environment through overfishing and ocean pollution. Although humans have been beating the oceans for hundreds of years, many still don’t realize the damage they are doing.

Expect to witness some eye-opening facts and statistics on how humans have treated our oceans. This is an accurate criticism of current methods, ranging from unsustainable fishing and plastic dumping to cruel slavery to maintain the supply of cheap seafood.

2. Cowspiracy by Kip Andersen

Cowspiracy highlights the environmental impact of animal agriculture. The film’s 85-minute runtime highlights how animals are raised for meat consumption and the effects of our eating habits on global warming and climate change. The film features interviews with leading experts, environmentalists, and political figures.

This documentary shows the truth, however unpleasant it may be. Without a shift in animal eating and the animal agribusiness sector, individual attempts to combat climate change won’t even put a dent.

3. Blackfish by Gabriella Cowperthwaite

This tells the story of the killer whale Tilikum who was kept in captivity at Seaworld.

The film shows how distressing it is to keep wild animals in captivity, such as dolphins. Gabriella Cowperthwaite’s film depicts these creatures’ magnificence and the confinement’s misery. While science and statistics aren’t the primary focus, Blackfish convincingly shows how these creatures are harmed emotionally and physically while held captive.

4. Honeyland by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov

It’s unusual for a film to be nominated in two categories at the Academy Awards: Best Documentary and Best International Feature.

Honeyland was nominated and won at the 2020 Academy Awards, but this heartwarming tale of beekeepers in North Macedonia and the need for conservation is still in immense popularity.

Bees have been one of the most important creatures on the planet since ancient times, as they are responsible for pollinating many crops, plants, and trees. This documentary follows the story of beekeepers in North Macedonia and the struggle to protect their bees amid an economic crisis and polluted environment.

5. Generation on Fire by the Sunrise Movement

The Green New Deal is an ambitious plan to tackle climate change, improve the economy, and create millions of new jobs. The Sunrise Movement has pushed this idea into the spotlight with its documentary Generation on Fire, which explores what’s at stake for our planet and our species.

This movie follows two groups of young activists as they walk hundreds of miles to ask the U.S. government to start a Civilian Climate Corps.

This documentary is an excellent springboard for discussions on the contemporary climate activist movement and young activism. Given that it is a short video, it is ideal for a discussion night with young activists or library programming featuring future changemakers.

6. The River by Pare Lorentz

The River is a documentary film on river cleanup along the Mississippi River directed by Pare Lorenz to support FDR’s New Deal and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The documentary by Lorenz is another short film that provides a glimpse into the early stages of the environmental movement.

This film may appear dry by today’s standards, but the writing was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature. In addition, the River brings to light America’s history of environmental destruction, serving as a sharp reminder of the actions that must be taken now.

7. The Plastic Problem 

The Plastic Problem from PBS NewsHour addresses the pervasive problem of plastic in the modern world. The substance is everywhere, causing severe health problems for humans and significantly influencing wildlife.

This documentary will educate viewers on the specific effects of plastic and how to limit their plastic consumption. This short, sweet, instructive documentary covers an essential topic in less than an hour.

8. The River and the Wall by Ben Masters

The River and the Wall is a remarkable documentary about the Rio Grande River, where it divides the United States, and “The Wall” that former President Donald Trump wants to construct along the Mexican border.

This video explores the humanitarian problem through the prism of environmental issues, demonstrating how constructing a border wall would affect the delicate ecosystems of the Rio Grande and the people along the border.

Author’s Note

After watching several documentaries about environmental issues, such as global warming, melting polar ice caps, and deforestation, many people now realize that the environment desperately needs help, requiring immediate action. 

No matter what movie a person chooses to watch, these documentaries inspire you to act in some way or another to help the environment.

Environmental Documentary

Related: Environmental Organizations, Environmental Movies, Environmental Activists

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