Six essential films to get to grips with climate change


Madrid / 07 December 2019

Climate change is no longer something we can turn a blind eye to. The denial witnessed in the 1980s has given way to a movement being driven by young generations to get us all discussing and addressing this pressing issue. The words ‘emergency’ or ‘collapse’ sum up the urgency of the matter both in the public eye and in institutional discourse. The consequences of global warming have also played out on the big screen in a bid to raise global awareness of the dire consequences that await us. 

Communication Specialist

The figures do not lie: The last five years have been the warmest on record. The polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, forest fires are ravaging the planet, and torrential rain and droughts are now worse than ever.

Over 180 years have gone by since a group of scientists warned of the global rise in the planet's temperature due to the impact of the industrial revolution, yet climate change remains a hugely complex phenomenon that is difficult to understand.

To explore the effects of climate change while keeping things simple, make sure you check out the following films, all of which do a good job of explaining this phenomenon, while raising awareness of the impact and giving us ideas about things we can change in our day-to-day lives.

Years of Living Dangerously

James Cameron, more widely known as the director of Titanic, directs this documentary series by National Geographic, which is now in its second season. Featuring contributions from numerous celebrities, including the likes of Matt Damon, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gisele Bündchen, the series not only explores the problems associated with climate change, but also focuses on the solutions and seeks to raise public awareness of the issue.

It aims to tell first-hand stories and accounts, but viewed from a scientific angle. The series follows two of these celebrities in each episode, who visit the sites of the disaster or devastation to learn more about the impact —whether in India, the Brazilian Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia— and to explain how it has affected the natural environment and all the people and animals that live in it. 

Before the Flood

This documentary, also by National Geographic, aims to shock the viewer. In the program, Leonardo DiCaprio outlines the real effects of climate change and its impact if we fail to act, supported by the views and opinions of scientists and experts from around the world. The actor also shows us the calculated disinformation campaign to distort the truth about climate change.

A documentary for all audiences, and one that certainly benefits from DiCaprio's celebrity status to expose the problem and condemn political inactivity, while also providing a ray of hope by proposing real solutions. 


Telling positive and inspiring stories is often more effective than adopting an alarmist stance. That is the aim of this French production, which shows us how people from all over the world are now taking matters into their own hands in response to the environmental, economic and social challenges of our century.

It gives specific examples to show us that we all have a role to play in making the world a better place. It showcases initiatives such as the urban farming programs in Detroit, the Danish transition toward zero-emission transport and the Finnish drive for a different education. It is a bittersweet documentary that premièred during COP21 in Paris. It is troubling yet equally hopeful by directly challenging us to change our life styles.

Climate Change – The Facts

The unmistakeable voice of David Attenborough returns to the BBC to warn us that the fuse is lit and that we can't wait any longer if we are to avoid the consequences of global warming. With a simple, objective and captivating style, he addresses the problem from various angles by talking with some of the world's most respected and renowned experts.

This hour-long documentary is part of the Our Planet series and explains the impact on the poles, coastal regions, the climate, forest life and urban life as CO2 levels rise. In the words of The Guardian, “it is a call to arms through horror movies playing out in miniature”. David Attenborough to the rescue once again. 

A Plastic Ocean

How can a waste product be made of something that is indestructible? That is the central message given by renowned diver and host of the documentary, Tanya Streeter, in her TEDx talk.

The use of plastic and its devastating impact on the environment is now a huge concern and cutting right down on the use of plastic is one of the most pressing yet difficult steps in the fight against climate change. This documentary, filmed in 20 regions from around the world, investigates the impact of plastic on marine ecosystems all across the planet. It also studies the worrying amount of plastic ingested by animals who then perish as a result, and then goes one step further by explaining the impact of this waste on human health. 

Chasing Ice

Mixing images of landscapes with pointed activism, this film follows environmental photographer James Balog as he sets up cameras in some of the iciest places on earth, including Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Montana. Relying on time lapse imagery, Balog tells a tale of shrinking glaciers.

The images, both powerful and bleak, speak for themselves and are testimony to a landscape that most of us will never see, but that is literally melting.




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