Earth Day is observed on April 22. It is a day when we can show a little more appreciation for Mother Earth for everything that it does for us.
Our planet provides us with everything we need to survive, and it is our responsibility to give back to it. Corporations contribute to the rising pollution and shift the blame on people to put an end to the climate crisis and plastic pollution. Though we may not be able to do much by ourselves, we can do our bit by planting trees, not littering, and cleaning our surroundings.
By watching documentaries, we can be enlightened by the knowledge they impart about our planet, its wildlife, aquatic life, climate change, pollution, and so on. Some may include familiar faces, and others may show us the beauty as well as the pain of our planet Earth. We’ve compiled a list of documentaries that may inspire you to rethink sustainability and earth-positive practices to help in the betterment of our environment.
We shall also drop in a fact about Earth Day and our environment under each recommendation. Here’s one – Any guesses as to why Earth Day is observed on April 22? This date fell between Spring Break and final exams. Since organizers wanted to maximize student involvement, they chose April 22 as the date for Earth Day, according to Earth Day.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64R2MYUt394]
In his 93 years, David Attenborough has visited every continent on the globe. He has explored the wild places of Earth. Attenborough documented the living world in all its variety and wonder. But during his lifetime, he has also seen firsthand the monumental scale of humanity’s impact on nature. Attenborough discusses this impact on nature in the documentary ‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet’. It also includes the actions we can take to save the planet.
Watch ‘David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet’ on Netflix: HERE
An Inconvenient Truth[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu6SE5TYrCM]
In ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows Al Gore on the lecture circuit. The former presidential candidate campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to curb its destructive effects on the environment in the 2006 documentary film.
Find ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ on: Showtime | Spectrum on Demand
Did You Know: The fashion sector in 2018 was responsible for approximately 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, states CBS News. This is about 4% of the global total, according to a 2020 report authored by the sustainability nonprofit Global Fashion Agenda and management consulting firm McKinsey and Company.
Before the Flood[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9xFFyUOpXo]
Remember how we talked about familiar faces in these documentaries? ‘Before the Flood’ sees actor Leonardo DiCaprio meet with scientists, activists and world leaders to discuss the dangers of climate change and possible solutions. The documentary takes a look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet.
Find ‘Before the Flood’ on: Disney+ Hotstar | Disney Plus
Did You Know: In 2021, natural disasters cost the United States approximately USD 148 billion. This is according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. The agency counted 20 weather and climate disasters, as per CBS News. These included flooding, wildfires and tropical cyclones in 2021.
Kiss the Ground[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3-V1j-zMZw]
‘Kiss the Ground’ is a documentary that follows a revolutionary group of activists, scientists, farmers, and politicians. They band together in a global movement of “Regenerative Agriculture” that could balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world, states IMDb.
Watch ‘Kiss the Ground’ on: Netlifx
Did You Know: The food service industry produced 26% of the 931 million tons of food waste generated in 2019, according to a report published in 2021 by the United Nations Environment Programme. According to CBS News, researchers found that an estimated eight to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that isn’t consumed.
My Octopus Teacher[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s0LTDhqe5A]
A diver swims with an octopus that lives in a kelp forest off the coast of South Africa in ‘My Octopus Teacher’, in which the filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with the octopus. The diver learns as the animal shares the mysteries of her world.
Watch ‘My Octopus Teacher’ on: Netflix
Did You Know: According to the United Nations, 80% of the world’s wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. Approximately 44% of household wastewater isn’t safely treated across the globe. Because of this, around 1.8 billion people worldwide utilize a drinking water source that’s potentially contaminated with feces, as per CBS News. Those consuming untreated water are at risk of contracting diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.
A Plastic Ocean[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zrn4-FfbXw]
Journalist Craig Leeson teams up with diver Tanya Streeter and an international team of scientists and researchers, discovering a startling amount of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. In ‘A Plastic Ocean’, they travel to twenty locations around the world over the course of four years to explore the fragile state of our oceans.
Watch ‘A Plastic Ocean’ on: Netflix
Did You Know: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the last four decades have each been successively warmer than any decade that came before it since 1850. “Scientists concluded that greenhouse gases from human activities are behind the approximate 1.1 degree Celsius of warming between the years 1850 to 1900,” according to CBS News.
Chasing Coral[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6fHA9R2cKI]
Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate, therefore, in the documentary ‘Chasing Coral’, a team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure. They do this to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
Watch ‘Chasing Coral’ on: Netflix
Did You Know: “Despite a 6% to 7% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as a result of COVID-19 shutdowns, carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 reached its highest level of concentration at the planet’s surface in at least the last 800,000 years, according to the 31st annual State of the Climate report published by the American Meteorological Society and led by the NOAA,” states CBS News.
Islands of Faith[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TenX1wNEJXI]
Watch ‘Islands of Faith’ on: Netflix
Did You Know: As per CBS News, each year, humans produce nearly 400 million tons of plastic waste, which is nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Ice on Fire[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elf0RFBhr8I]
‘Ice on Fire’ is a documentary film produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio that explores the many ways we reduce carbon inputs to the atmosphere. More importantly, “how-to “draw” carbon down, bringing CO2 out of the atmosphere and thus paving the way for global temperatures to go down.” Can we reverse climate change? “Given that the world passed 400 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere resulting in climate instability across the globe, reversing climate change is urgent,” states IMDb.
We have heard the predictions. However, now climate-related events are a daily reality. Summer 2018 was the hottest on record. Storms are stronger, droughts are longer, the arctic ice is thin or non-existent and Antarctica is melting faster than predicted. Through visiting visionaries and scientists young and old, the film explores the deep hope that we can turn away from the brink.
Just as we figure out drawdown, we face an added complexity. The release of methane is a powerful greenhouse gas in the arctic. It is now entering the atmosphere. As the film says: “Is it game over? Or is it game-on? As we have at hand, the ability, the capacity, and solutions that can reverse global warming…not mitigate, not reduce, not stabilize, but reverse.’
Find ‘Ice on Fire’ on: HBO Max | Spectrum on Demand | Hotstar
Did You Know: According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the seven highest ocean heat content levels have all occurred between 2015 to 2021, with record-high heat being identified in 2021. This was across the North Atlantic Ocean, the North Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Our Planet[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aETNYyrqNYE]
Sir David Attenborough narrates this eight-part docu-series titled ‘Our Planet’. It explores the unique wonders of the natural world in this documentary produced in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. ‘Our Planet’ “uses a combination of stunning photography and technology to present Earth’s remaining wilderness areas and their animal inhabitants”.
The project took four years to complete. It included more than 600 crew members filming in 50 countries across the world. This was done to showcase the diversity that exists among habitats, from the remote Arctic wilderness to the jungles of South America.
Watch ‘Our Planet’ on: Netflix
Did You Know: “Forests provide drinking water to one-third of the world’s largest cities; they also support 80%, 75% and 68% of all amphibian, bird, and mammal species, respectively,” states the World Environment Day website.
‘Rotten’ dives deep into the food production underworld. It exposes the corruption, waste and real dangers behind your everyday eating habits.
Watch ‘Rotten’ on: Netflix
Did You Know: According to the Wold Environment Day website, “Every year, the world loses 10 million hectares of forests – an area the size of the Republic of Korea, or twice the size of Costa Rica.” (FAO and UNEP, 2020)