Over the course of the last few decades technology has changed the way we interact with the world around us. Thanks to the internet we can now see and explore places that are miles and miles away from us and talking to the people we love anytime we want is something that most of us can do, even if there is an ocean between us. But perhaps one of the most dramatic improvements that technology has brought to our lives it’s the way it made knowledge far more accessible. The internet has its dark side, but the way it brought a world of knowledge at many people’s finger tips it’s quite remarkable. Many of us watch movies and tv series on streaming services, but those often also offer us a good selection of interesting documentaries about a plethora of different topics. Here is a list of the best environmental documentaries available on Netflix.
This British-produced eight-part documentary series was filmed in 50 countries and released in 2019 by Netflix. Just like most well-done nature documentaries it is visually stunning and very entertaining, but unlike others of its kind it focuses heavily on how manmade climate change is impacting animals all over the world and it’s causing massive wildlife loss. From jungles to deserts, from forests to seas we get to witness the sometimes amusing, sometimes sorrowful snippets of the lives of a vast cast of animals and we get to understand how badly our actions are threatening their very survival. Thanks to the breath-taking imagery and Sir David Attenborough’s perfectly calibrated narration, Our Planet is a mesmerizing call to action to the inhabitants of the Blue Planet.
Winner of the Sundance 2017 Documentary Audience Award, this movie directed by Jeff Orlowski and produced by Larissa Rhodes, as an Exposure Labs production, was released globally on Netflix in July 2017. Its realization was made possible by a talented team of photographers, scientists and divers who over the course of three years and more than 500 hours underwater documented how the oceans are changing and the corals are dying. With beautiful footage shot in over 30 countries and the support of over 500 people around the world, they showed us that this marvellous and colourful underwater world is vanishing so quickly, but it’s not too late to save it.
One of the most famous documentaries about animal agriculture “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” is a feature-length environmental documentary directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. The film was crowdfunded on IndieGoGo and its updated version, which premiered in 2015 and it’s currently available on Netflix, was executive-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. Thanks to the help of a handful of experts, journalists and advocates this documentary exposes the damage made to our planet by animal agriculture in the form of water pollution and consumption, deforestation, soil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions.
2014 documentary film, Mission Blue allows us to see the ocean through the eyes of legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia, a woman whose life’s mission is to protect the seven seas. The message of this Emmy® Award winning documentary it’s clear since its opening quote by marine biologist Rachel Carson: “for all at last return to the sea--to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end”, life itself derives from the ocean and we cannot survive without it. As someone who saw with her own eyes a much less polluted world and has acquired so much knowledge in her long and honoured career, she reminds us that in a way we are all sea creatures, because if there is no ocean there is no us.
Satellite Award for Best Documentary Film Winner, Chasing Ice is a 2012 documentary film directed by Jeff Orlowski. It follows nature photographer James Balog in his effort to capture the devastating effects of climate change on our world through ice, which he thought was perfect subject to capture and communicate the essence of climate change. It all started in 2006 when he travelled to three continents to photograph disappearing glaciers for National Geographic. Coming back 6 months later, he realized that the same glacier he saw only a few months earlier shrank so much he could hardly recognize it. After that he founded the Extreme Ice Survey, a project whose focus is collecting photos that show the massive erosion and disappearance of glaciers.
+ Words: Roberta Fabbrocino
Roberta Fabbrocino is a writer and an environmentalist who loves sharing stories about all things sustainability. She runs @mosclothingsubscription, an eco-friendly personal styling service, and creates content for green brands.