5 Must-See Environmental Documentaries

This is a guest post by Maria Ramos. Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

Without positive human intervention, global climate change could lead to horrific catastrophes, uninhabitable regions, mass immigration, and global societal reconstruction. A large portion of human activity that has damaged the environment is a result of ignorance and apathy, but fortunately that is easy to reverse if enough people become more educated and environmentally conscious! Below are some incredible documentaries aimed at increasing environmental awareness about one of the most pressing issues of our times.

Chasing Ice (2012)

This film strives to document the direct effect of global climate change on the large volume of ice located on our polar regions. The film shows a large sheet of ice near Greenland calving, or melting and breaking apart, as a result of increased temperatures. The team uses time-lapse photography to show ice shelves changing over the course of several years. This critically acclaimed documentary is a must-see for environmental enthusiasts. Buy Chasing Ice on DVD or Blu-ray here.

More Than Honey (2012)

This Swiss documentary directed by Markus Imhoof highlights the plight of the honey bee populations across the world. Although praised for its unique cinematography and spectacular visuals, this film also highlights the importance of honeybee colonies to not only their local microcosm but to the complex global ecosystem network as a whole. The film dives into the lives of local beekeepers, who are crucial in promoting honeybee well-being, as well as industrialized honeybee colonies. This documentary highlights just how important one little insect is to the entire global food chain by pollinating the majority of all plant life. You can stream More Than Honey on Netflix.

Gasland (2010)

Director Josh Fox discusses the harmful effects of US drilling, focusing primarily on natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing (a way of drilling horizontally into shale formations) which has led to an increased anti-fracking movement. Fox looks at how drilling companies have affected communities across the country for the past decade, specifically with the health problems directly related to contaminated air and water. He goes on to obtain testimony from environmentalists, politicians, and other scientists to weave a compelling narrative of the serious problems related to drilling and hydraulic fracking. Gasland can be found on HBO.

The End of the Line (2009)

In this documentary, Rupert Murray explores the detrimental effects of overfishing and how reduced fish populations can have a drastic impact on global oceanic ecosystems. Murray explores how increased demand for seafood has led to near-extinction of many different species and has created an imbalance of marine populations. Overfishing also leads to starvation and collapsed local economies for many communities that derive their livelihood from fishing. Murray’s proposed solutions include increased dependence on sustainable seafood, increased fishing regulations, and increased no-fishing zones to help restore habitats and populations to equilibrium. If we don’t take action, we could deplete all the ocean’s fish stocks as early as 2048. You can rent this documentary on Vudu.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

This documentary highlights Al Gore’s efforts to raise awareness about environmental issues, most notably global warming and climate change. Based on Gore’s slide show presentations, the film shows graphics, charts, and other still visuals with voice-over commentary. The film also offers viewers ways in which they can become more environmentally conscious and help their community. An Inconvenient Truth can be rented on Vudu and iTunes.

What to Do?

Increased awareness, global cooperation, and responsible individual choices could start to reverse the trend of environmental collapse. Watching these documentaries helps to raise awareness for some of the top environmental issues we face as a civilization and informs us about ways to help. If every individual human being would take responsibility for their own actions and their footprint on the world, the environment would naturally trend towards a more beneficial and sustainable equilibrium.

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About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

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