Environmental documentaries are a powerful way to raise awareness, educate, and inspire people to take action on the most pressing issues facing our planet. From climate change and plastic pollution to biodiversity loss and animal welfare, these films expose the problems and offer solutions for a more sustainable future. But which environmental documentaries have had the most impact on the public and policymakers? In this blog post, we will explore some of the most influential and effective environmental documentaries ever released, based on their popularity, critical acclaim, and social change.
The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet (2021)
This documentary, narrated by David Attenborough and Prince William, showcases the urgent challenges and innovative solutions for restoring nature and tackling climate change. The film features the finalists and winners of the Earthshot Prize, a global initiative that awards five £1 million prizes each year for the next decade to the most impactful projects that can improve the environment by 2030. According to a study by Ocean Bottle, this documentary had the biggest effect in the UK, increasing the average search volume for sustainability-related keywords by 44.36% in the month after its release.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
This documentary, featuring former US Vice President Al Gore, is widely credited with bringing global warming to the mainstream attention and sparking a worldwide movement for climate action. The film presents scientific evidence and personal anecdotes to explain the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as the solutions and opportunities to prevent a catastrophe. The film won two Academy Awards and a Nobel Peace Prize for Gore, and inspired a sequel in 2017, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. According to the same study by Ocean Bottle, this documentary had the second biggest effect in the UK, increasing the average search volume for sustainability-related keywords by 35% in the month after its release.
Before The Flood (2016)
This documentary, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, follows his journey as a UN Messenger of Peace to witness the impacts of climate change around the world and meet with experts and leaders who are working to solve the crisis. The film covers topics such as fossil fuels, deforestation, coral bleaching, carbon pricing, renewable energy, and individual action. The film was released for free online and reached over 60 million viewers in 45 languages. According to the same study by Ocean Bottle, this documentary had the third biggest effect in the UK, increasing the average search volume for sustainability-related keywords by 30.72% in the month after its release.
Frozen Planet (2011)
This documentary series, narrated by David Attenborough, explores the life and landscapes of the polar regions of Earth. The series showcases the beauty and diversity of the Arctic and Antarctic ecosystems, as well as the threats they face from climate change and human activities. The series was watched by over 500 million people worldwide and won four Emmy Awards. It also inspired several spin-offs, such as The Polar Bear Family & Me (2013) and Snow Bears (2017).
A Plastic Ocean (2016)
This documentary, directed by Craig Leeson and featuring Tanya Streeter, investigates the global issue of plastic pollution in the oceans and its effects on marine life and human health. The film reveals how plastic enters the ocean from landfills, rivers, fishing nets, and microfibers, and how it accumulates in gyres or breaks down into microplastics that are ingested by animals or enter the food chain. The film also highlights some of the solutions and initiatives that are being implemented to reduce plastic consumption and waste, such as recycling, biodegradable materials, circular economy, and education. According to the same study by Ocean Bottle, this documentary had the fifth biggest effect in the UK, increasing the average search volume for sustainability-related keywords by 20.71% in the month after its release.
These are just some of the most impactful environmental documentaries ever released, but there are many more that deserve recognition and attention. Some of them are listed below:
- Kiss The Ground (2020): This documentary explores how regenerative agriculture can reverse climate change by restoring soil health and sequestering carbon.
- Cowspiracy (2014): This documentary exposes how animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of environmental degradation and why environmental organizations are ignoring it.
- My Octopus Teacher (2020): This documentary tells the story of a filmmaker who forms an unlikely bond with an octopus in a South African kelp forest and learns about its intelligence and behavior.
- Seaspiracy (2021): This documentary exposes how industrial fishing is destroying marine life and ecosystems and why sustainable seafood is a myth.
- Blackfish (2013): This documentary reveals how captive orcas suffer from physical and psychological harm in marine parks and how they pose a danger to their trainers and the public.
- I Am Greta (2020): This documentary follows the life and activism of Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who inspired millions of people to join the Fridays for Future movement.
- 2040 (2019): This documentary imagines what the world could look like in 2040 if we adopted the best existing solutions for climate change and social justice.
- Honeyland (2019): This documentary portrays the life and struggles of a beekeeper in North Macedonia who tries to preserve her traditional way of living and her natural environment.
We hope that this blog post has inspired you to watch some of these environmental documentaries and learn more about the issues and solutions that affect our planet. We also hope that you will take action in your own way, whether it is by reducing your environmental footprint, supporting environmental causes, or spreading the word. Together, we can make a difference for a better future.