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Best Environmentalism Documentaries to Watch, Ranked


As the world cries out for salvation against the ongoing climate crisis, environmentalists plead for a greater urgency and understanding of just how serious climate change is. The need to protect nature and its living creatures and to enact solutions against its greatest threats – overpopulation and pollution – has warranted a call to arms by environmentalists. Political and ethical movements have rallied in support of seeking solutions that will benefit the restoration of the ecosystem. The response to the global environmental crisis has raised awareness of how oblivious some of the world has been to the ongoing effects of climate change and has asked for their attention. Earth is in need of advocacy that can share the concern of how directly affected the planet is by human activity. The natural world is just as worthy and important as being prioritized among other global issues.



Documentaries have the power to influence the world to change for the greater good. The reflection between real-world events and their translation into film has an inherent power to inspire, inform, and advocate. As an informative resource, documentaries are able to delineate pressing issues that may not be accessible to everyone on an even basis. They harness the ability to amplify the most intense and immediate social issues that may feel disconnected to some. Engaging with the most important issues opens up conversations around working towards solutions. Environmentalism documentaries, in particular, host timely and meaningful conversations around the reality of climate change. Eyewitness accounts and first-hand perspectives document significant events on an ecological basis. Documentary films about the environment raise awareness of how quickly the Earth and its natural resources are being diminished. While each film’s purpose supports a necessary message, these are the best environmentalist documentaries to watch.


5 Chasing Coral

Touching on a lesser-known issue, Chasing Coral calls attention to the alarming rate of coral bleaching between 2014 and 2017. The documentary insists that by the year 2034, 90% of the remaining coral reefs will be lost to climate change. The rising temperatures caused by global warming are being absorbed by the ocean and are impacting the irreversible damage that is directly wearing away at them. Coral face heat stress that is caused by global warming, and coral bleaching has now been described as a marine ecosystem epidemic. Overfishing and overpollution are attributed to the pressures that coral feel when fighting to keep themselves alive, and the decline in water quality cannot provide enough for them to thrive with ease. The mass loss of coral reefs over an alarmingly short period of time costs some marine life their natural habitat and destroys untouched diverse ecosystems. Chasing Coral stands behind the idea that more attention should be given to oceanic concerns just as equally to troubles on land.

Related: These Are the Best Nature Documentaries Streaming Right Now

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4 David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Sir David Attenborough speaks up on his travels and how he has personally witnessed the effects of climate change at the hands of humanity. He encourages audiences to join him as he mourns the loss of wildlife around the world. David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet not only documents his success as an accomplished environmental documentarian, but it reflects on the dramatic decline of Earth’s health since his career’s early years. A commentary aspect allows Attenborough to speculate on the future of the climate if humanity carries on with the same careless attitudes, and estimates a grimmer fate for the climate. The documentary dives into the statistics revolving around the population of wildlife and how declination to act will result in devastation across diverse habitats.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet illustrates the dramatic transformation of the climate as it leaps from events predicted at a decade-by-decade rate. A more unforgiving message insists that Earth will face its ultimate demise and be deemed uninhabitable following the destruction of futile land at the hands of humanity. However, the documentary does suggest actions that can be taken to combat the population’s current inattentive behavior toward the Earth’s needs. There is a call to ground stability in the current population and look to renewable energy as a leader in the industry. Bringing an end to deforestation and encouraging biodiversity are viewed as necessities when restoring ecosystems. David Attenborough: A Life on Earth advocates for the recovery of the planet.

3 Climate of Doubt

PBS’s documentary Climate of Doubt shines a light on the attitudes of skepticism that cloud how climate change is perceived through the public eye. This political entity narrows in on how science was responsible for disarming the discourse around climate change through a two-party system. John Hockenberry dives head-first into approaching the conversation around climate change from the perspective of Presidential candidates on the campaign trail. A study conducted reports that Americans are more skeptical of the reality of climate change and are hesitant to accept it as a fact. There is a rejection of the cause and effect that people are responsible for the increase of global warming.

Per PBS‘s official press release, “Climate of Doubt describes the individuals and groups behind an organized effort to attack science by undermining scientists, and to unseat politicians who say they believe there is current climate change caused by human activity. “Any misconception of the conversation around climate change and the association that they are political The documentary examines conversations around scientific findings and how they are interpreted through a political landscape, specifically, how political bias threatens the transparency of factual evidence. It presents the argument that climate change has been assumed to be more politically charged compared to a direct statement that does not need to be challenged.

Related: The Best Documentaries About Climate Change and Where to Watch Them

2 An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore uses his platform as the former Presidential candidate to warn the public over the devastation of climate change, rallying those around him to join him in his efforts to combat the effects already present. Global warming is elevated to an “emergency-level threat” and Gore is determined to inspire others to take action against its effects. He scored a Nobel Peace Prize and an Academy Award win for his documentary that demanded attention given to climate change. A core message that was left in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth was that the idea of ​​choosing economy and environment was a mistruth and that there should be no pressure felt to prioritize one over the other.

The former presidential prospect accepts that is indeed the people of Earth who have directly worn away at the state of the climate and believes people are required to end the ongoing denial that they are responsible. An Inconvenient Truth presents evidence that Earth’s temperature has been increasing throughout the past decade and paints global warming as an undeniable issue that should be addressed immediately. Gore instead spoke in favor of introducing new means of approaching how American citizens can combat climate change and understand the ramifications of global warming as a fact of the matter and not as a political ploy.


1 Blackfish

Blackfish directs the conversation of environmentalism towards a more niche theme of captivity. The documentary raises concerns and questions about the actions of how wildlife is perceived and how harmful misconceptions can lead to the endangerment of wildlife. A highly controversial entity in the world of environmental documentary filmmaking, Blackfish insisted that the public participates in their concern around the ethical values ​​of marine life amusement park, SeaWorld. The core mission of Blackfish is to inform an audience about how it is unnatural for orca whales to live as theme park attractions and explain that orcas are misunderstood.

A goal of calling for more widespread recognition of how dolphins and whales are treated when taken into custody by people is reiterated throughout the documentary. Wildlife activists remain eager to align with Blackfish‘s tireless plea to free the orcas. The film urged the United States to reconsider introducing new legislation against places such as SeaWorld and the call for an end to captive orca whale breeding programs was granted more popularity. An urgent message that orcas were to remain in their natural habitat echoes through Blackfish with implications of a collapse in a natural ecosystem without them in the seas.



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