Film

6 Excellent Documentaries That’ll Get You Fired Up About Saving The Planet

Our planet needs saving. In 2019, that’s not a controversial statement. It’s a fact.

A documentary filmmaker surrounded by ice
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Our planet needs saving. In this, the year 2019, that’s not a controversial statement. It’s a fact.

It’s such un-controversial fact, actually, that even big businesses are getting behind the cause. You’d be hard-pressed to find a worthwhile company that isn’t throwing their money behind solutions and sustainability.

Even banks and super funds are quickly re-evaluating what they choose to invest in. Bank Australia, for example, has completely ruled out any investments in fossil fuels, live animal exports and tobacco, to name a few. Instead, they put their money into renewable energy and the like.

So, yeah, planet stuff isn’t going away anytime soon. And this cultural shift has got us all fired up about getting educated and making a change.

Of course, like the eternal optimists we are, we think there’s no problem a bowl full of popcorn and a weekend of bingeing can’t fix. So, we handpicked the very best documentaries on the topic of saving the planet.

(As an added bonus, at least one of these documentaries are produced by Leo DiCaprio himself, so you’ll have something to talk about when you eventually meet him. You’re welcome.)

#1 Chasing Ice

You don’t need to look further than our melting ice caps to realise that, yep, the world is getting hotter.

National Geographic photographer James Balog – once a climate change sceptic – wanted to examine how global warming was impacting our thousand-year-old Arctic glaciers. So, he set up cameras to film years and years’ worth of erosion and the time-lapse speaks for itself. The footage of once majestic and ginormous glaciers disappearing into nothing is jaw-dropping. And, most importantly, all the “proof” you need.

One Sydney Morning Herald review called it “spectacular but depressing”, which, yep, pretty much.

Where to stream it: Netflix


#2 2040

The guy from That Sugar Film has a daughter and he’s deathly afraid of the world she’ll grow up in. That’s the crux of 2040, a 2019 feature documentary in which director Damon Gameau investigates how he can use already-existing technology to make the world a better place for his offspring. (And everyone else on earth, of course.)

Not only does the doco teach you heaps about truly futuristic inventions, from seaweed permaculture to self-driving cars, but it will remind you our future doesn’t have to be as sticky as terrifying as its projected to be.

As uplifting as it is funny and full of dad jokes, 2040 will give you a sharp burst of hope in the dark cloud of worry that surrounds climate change.

Where to watch it: In most cinemas now


#3 Our Planet

“In the last 50 years, wildlife populations have, on average, declined by 60 per cent. For the first time in human history, the stability of nature can no longer be taken for granted.”

So goes Sir David Attenborough’s stirring call to action at the start of Our Planet, an eight-part series on the world’s remaining ecosystems and wildlife.

Much like Sir David’s other docos, the painstaking detail, information, and mind-blowing colour of every frame of Our Planet, will make you say, “How did they do that?” but also, “I need a better TV”.

You’ll weep with joy and despair and jump up off your couch to try and protect this unique world of ours immediately. Guaranteed.

Where to stream it: Netflix


#4 The Ivory Game

In The Ivory Game , viewers are reminded of how incredible elephants are as a species: that they have remarkable memories and complex social and familial systems. We’re shown beautiful, expansive shots of them living happily in the wild, enjoying life as nature intended.

But, heartbreakingly, we’re also reminded why we’re watching this documentary in the first place. The ivory trade means we’re on track to completely wipe out the species in a matter of years.

Set up as a thriller-style feature, The Ivory Game exposes how China’s technically-illegal-but-still-thriving market is theforce behind all this massacre and how it’s caused the creation of a dangerous and demanding black market.

Where to stream it: Netflix


#5 Anote’s Ark

When we talk about climate change, we’re talking about natural disasters. About floods and hurricanes and rising sea water that’ll come to claim us in anywhere between 20 and 50 years’ time.

For the people of Kiribati, a remote country in the Pacific Islands, all that horror is happening right now. In Anote’s Ark, we’re introduced to President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, as he travels the world to urge fellow world leaders to act on climate change and save his countrymen.

You’ll soon understand the very human impact of climate change along with the stories, culture, and way of life it threatens to dislodge.

Where to stream it: iTunes


#6 Being The Change: A New Kind Of Climate Documentary

Alright, alright, we’ve just spent hours getting bummed out about the world. So, what can we actually do, personally, to put the brakes on near-certain doom?

In Being The Change, climate scientist Peter Kalmus shares how he drastically cut his fossil fuel emissions to one tenth of that of the average American. At only an hour long, it’ll give you an intimate and inspiring look at a person who has wholly dedicated their life to the lowest carbon footprint possible.

And while, yes, it’s not the whole answer, it’s certainly something. And is sure to give you loads of ideas to take into your own life.

Where to stream it: Amazon Prime Video

(Lead image: Mahkeo / Unsplash)

Want to do your bit to make the planet a better place, now and in the future? Bank Australia doesn’t lend money to businesses involved in planet-harming industries like fossil fuels, live animal exports, gambling, arms, or tobacco, instead they invest your money into the creation of equal-opportunity and affordable housing, renewable energy, and not-for-profit organisations. Join the clean money movement today.