Climate change, or rather the climate crisis, is an existential issue that is weighing on all of our minds. That's why we at SANVT think climate activism should now be the norm. Because one thing is for sure: if we keep living the way we are, the ecosystem will collapse faster than we expect it to. Of course, we all need to take individual responsibility for our actions and our consumption. We need to live more sustainably, eat more plant-based food, grow crops more consciously, and produce in a more resource-efficient way. But the first step to climate activism is education. So here's a list of the best documentaries about climate change available today on Netflix.
A Life on Our Planet
This imposing 2020 documentary about climate change follows legendary British broadcaster, biologist, natural historian, and author Sir David Frederick Attenborough through various mind-blowing sceneries. In his 93 years, he has visited every continent on Earth, explored our planet's wildest landscapes and documented its vibrant diversity. Throughout his life, however, Attenborough has also experienced firsthand the monumental scale of man's impact on nature.
In "A Life on Our Planet," he laments the loss of biodiversity and calls attention to the urgency of our climate activism. Interestingly, the documentary begins and ends in Chernobyl to draw attention to one of humanity's greatest disasters. The real catastrophe though, according to the documentary's protagonist, is barely noticeable on a daily basis: climate change. But just as nature reclaimed Chernobyl, Attenborough believes, so too will nature eventually recover from the climate crisis and return to its equilibrium. The only question is whether we humans will still be around then.
As the future of our species is also threatened by the climate crisis, this documentary appeals to individuals themselves. "Breaking Boundaries" is a spiritually and scientifically inspired sequel to the documentary "A life on our planet". Together with scientist Johan Rockström, Sir David Attenborough interviews various experts about the partially irreversible extent of man's impact on the environment. With scientifically backed evidence, this documentary makes it clear that the decade between 2020 and 2030 is the most crucial for the history and future of humanity.
Apart from the eco-anxiety that one sometimes gets when becoming aware of the consequences of our existence on this planet, this documentary also inspires courage. Courage that it is not too late to stop the climate crisis and save humanity and the environment. One of the best documentaries about climate change that gives a breath of hope and encourages climate activism!
Kiss the ground
Another classic that is meant to give us hope is "Kiss the ground". This documentary about climate change offers a somewhat naively optimistic look at one possible solution to the climate crisis, and that is regenerated soil. Directed by Woody Harrelson, a group of experts and celebrity activists – from Gisele Bündchen to Jason Mraz – explore how we can restore ecosystems made extinct by factory farming. In addition, the documentary attempts to show how we could replenish food supplies and help fight global warming by investing in regenerative grazing. Meat-eaters in denial love this documentary, as it shows that beef could be produced sustainably (yet a lot of these claims have now been debunked).
In our opinion, it is far more effective to tackle the cause of the destruction of ecosystems in the first place (i.e. overconsumption of meat). And if restoring ecosystems is the focus here, reforesting is the best solution – not cows. Regenerative grazing or not, if our consumption of meat doesn’t decrease drastically, CO2 and methane emissions – and of course animal suffering – will outweigh the very limited positive effects of grazing. It's a documentary that is worth a watch but definitely should with a healthy skepticism and a view of the the bigger picture: there’s no silver bullet solution to climate change and using more land for grazing can only lead to more deforestation and habitat loss, if it's not paired with a massive reduction in meat consumption.
After the worldwide eye-opening success of the award-winning documentary "Cowspiracy", produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, and "What the Health", produced by Joaquin Phoenix, filmmaker Kip Andersen himself stood behind the scenes as producer of the controversial documentary "Seaspiracy", released in 2021. Apart from the fact that "Conspirasea" would have made much more sense as a name, this documentary also caused a lot of uproar in other regards – mainly because of its simplistic narrative. In our opinion, Seaspiracy is nevertheless an absolute must-watch on Netflix and one of the best documentaries about climate change! Not only does the documentary draw attention to the extinction of marine life and threatened biodiversity but it also highlights the catastrophic effects of over-fishing.
The documentary statistically compares the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions of different fishing methods to plant-based foods, eggs, dairy products, and livestock, and offers unexpected revelations. In addition, the documentary makes us aware of how important our world's oceans are to the climate. After all, the ocean absorbs as much CO2 from the atmosphere as all the plants and trees combined! And this is only possible because of the marine life in the ocean, which is threatened by over-fishing. Our prediction: watch the documentary and you’ll have a hard time eating seafood next time round!
Down to Earth
Finally, we recommend a docu-series that brings a little more levity, courage and hope. Instead of pointing out brutal facts and humanity's mistakes (which, as important as they are, can also lead to nihilism), "Down to Earth" follows actor Zach Afron with wellness expert Darin Olien in 8 episodes as they travel through different settings around the world to explore sustainable innovations. This docu-series takes us through Iceland, France, Costa Rica, Sardinia, Lima, Puerto Rico, London and Iquitos with insightful facts about the different cultures and their ventures to live in harmony with nature. While not particularly enlightening, the docu-series is informative and entertaining. It's light hearted entertainment that restores a little of our faith in humanity.
More documentaries about climate change
Of course, there are a number of other exciting documentaries about the preservation of ecosystems, such as "Fantastic Fungi," "Chasing Coral," "Mission Blue," "Cowspiracy" or "Eating to Extinction." But with the list of the best documentaries about climate change above, you'll get a powerful primer into the climate crisis and an idea of how urgent our need for action is! One way to cut your CO2 emissions and reduce your carbon footprint is to buy only carbon-neutral, sustainable fashion, eat plant-rich foods, and have your other emissions calculated and offset monthly through transparent offsetting companies.
At SANVT, we develop completely climate neutral collections with timeless, minimalist, sustainable and fairly produced basics. Read more about our climate promise here and discover our essentials for an eco-conscious style.