Films on Climate Change


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An Inconvenient Truth

Documentary 2006 PG 96 minutes. Director-producer Davis Guggenheim (HBO’s “Deadwood”) captures former Vice President Al Gore in the midst of waging a passionate campaign — not for the White House, but for the environment — in this Oscar-winning documentary. Laying out the facts of global warming without getting political, Gore makes a sobering impression on the audiences who hear his message, urging them to act “boldly, quickly and wisely” … before it’s too late. See Full Review

Climate of Doubt

Documentary Frontline 2012 Oct23. Frontline explores the massive shift in public opinion on climate change. A new U.N. report says human impact on climate change is “clear,” it’s getting worse, and we’re too late to stop it. When President Obama tried to push for legislation on climate change during his first term, he encountered such fierce political opposition that it quickly became clear Congress wouldn’t be the avenue to reform. When it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, “An Inconvenient Truth” — the blockbuster documentary about former Vice President Al Gore’s crusade to draw attention to the threat of global warming — received three standing ovations. Link to View This Frontline Story for Free (Listed by Date 2012 Oct23):

Out of Balance

Documentary 2007 NR 65 minutes. Documentarian Tom Jackson turns his lens on some inconvenient truths about energy titan Exxon Mobil and its effect on climate change. Spotlighting the company’s efforts to fund skewed media campaigns and support global-warming skeptics, Jackson builds his case in interviews with leading writers and scientists in the field of climatology. The film also explains the science behind global warming, as well as offering up some solutions to the crisis. See Full Review

Six Degrees Could Change the World

Documentary National Geographic The Age of Stupid 2007 NR 90 minutes. This sobering documentary examines the incremental effects of climate change across the globe. Each degree of temperature change means devastating new consequences, and some scientists believe mankind is just six degrees away from utter disaster. Heat waves, drought, rising ocean levels and armed conflict over resources are just some of the grim predictions. Is there anything that can be done to reverse this alarming trend? See Full Review

Extreme Ice

Documentary Nova 2009 TV-PG 53m. Both breathtaking and unsettling, this fascinating array of extreme images gathered by photojournalist James Balog paints a startling portrait of climate change using time-lapse photography shot over the course of two years. Thanks to cameras that recorded pictures once an hour during daylight, you’ll see glaciers rapidly melt and shrink and sea levels rise ominously higher right before your eyes.

Bidder 70

Documentary 2012 NR 73 minutes. This documentary relates the saga of Tim DeChristopher, who brazenly bid $1.7 million to win 12 land parcels at a federal oil lease auction. With no intention of paying — and determined to protect the land — the activist begins a long legal battle.

The Island President

Documentary 2011 PG 1hr 41m. During his presidency of the Maldive Islands, Mohamed Nasheed fights to prevent rising ocean levels from inundating his low-lying archipelago nation.

Tuvalu: That Sinking Feeling
Global Warming, Rising Seas

Documentary Frontline / World 2005. There’s trouble in paradise. A small island nation in the South Pacific, Tuvalu, is threatened by rising ocean levels believed to be caused by global warming. Frontline/World reporter Elizabeth Pollock travels into the heart of Polynesia, just south of the Equator, to see if the people of Tuvalu will have to abandon the islands they have inhabited for 2,000 years.

Global Warming:
The Signs and the Science

Documentary 2005 NR 60 minutes. Despite what you may hear from political pundits, the threat of global warming is very much in evidence, and climate change is already a part of our world. By talking to a variety of people — including farmers, doctors, schoolchildren, teens, police officers, bicycle couriers and a cadre of respected researchers — this PBS program explains the signs and science behind the phenomenon. Singer Alanis Morissette narrates.

Earth: Power of the Planet

Documentary 2007 NR 1 Season Five episodes, each 59 min.  Hosted by geologist Iain Stewart, this documentary series explores how volcanoes, the ocean, the atmosphere and ice have shaped Earth.  Geologist Iain Stewart travels around the world to examine the dramatic forces that shape Earth, from raging volcanoes to spectacular storms.  A global picture of why our earth will survive in spite of us.  We cannot destroy this planet, but if we do not care for it better, we may destroy ourselves.  This is a spectacular series – beautiful, informative, and entertaining.  Very instructive with awesome images. Terrific not-to-be-missed series!  Should be obligatory subject-matter of teaching on the curriculum of secondary schools and colleges.  I’d say it’s well worth viewing – and viewing again.  I will be watching all the episodes over and over in order to be able to grasp the wealth of information and to continue admiring the beauty of this unique planet of which we have the privilege to be a part of. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   I rate it 5+.  Why doesn’t Netflix offer a 12 star rating?  Loved this.  I have loved every single Iain Stewart documentary I’ve managed to find, and this series is one of my favorites. (His Scottish accent could be difficult to understand, but there are subtitles.)

1.  Volcano
2.  Atmosphere.  Iain Stewart rides in a Cold War fighter, gets his eyebrows singed in Siberia and discovers why Argentina is one of the stormiest places on Earth.
3.  Ice
4.  Oceans
5.  Rare Earth, meaning our earth may be rare in the universe.

The Age of Stupid

Docudrama 2008 NR 1hr 28m. In the desolate future of 2055, an archivist combs through a vast collection of videos to learn what went wrong with the planet. His research points to the first decade of the century, when humans blithely ignored the warning signs of climate change. Typical documentaries either take a snapshot of the current time or they present a history of what happened in the past. The conceptual brilliance of this movie is that it places itself at a point in the not-too-distant future, and it uses actual news and documentary footage of the present day to make its case. This is a warning about the present when the human race has become so corrupted by consumerism that it just got too stupid to be able to pay sufficient attention to its own survival. One sign that stupidity is endemic within our genes can be seen in the fact that, as of 2010, only 15,500 NetFlix members bothered to watch and rate this film. Compare that figure to the 4.5 million members who watched and rated the science fiction film The Fifth Element. This movie ought to be required viewing in every high school through the world, along with student essays and debates based on its ideas, before the next crop of young consumers are unleashed into the marketplace. However, this film was cute but shallow. I can’t take any movie seriously that says in less than 60 years the human race goes extinct. It’s like movies from the 1950s that claimed everyone in the 2000s would be in flying cars.

The Last Mountain

Documentary 2011 PG 1hr 35m. This is a gripping documentary that follows ordinary citizens in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley as they wage a campaign to prevent the infamous Massey Energy Company from expanding ruinous mountaintop removal mining operations. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the people of Coal River for show us that corporations have to be held accountable for their greed and belief that profits trump life. See Full Review

Dirty Business
“Clean Coal” and the Battle for Our Energy Future

Documentary Center for Investigative Reporting, 2010 88 min. Dirty Business is the best and most comprehensive look at global dependence on coal, and explores some promising alternatives. The film by Peter Bull is built around the work of Jeff Goodell, who wrote the important book Big Coal. Goodell begins with the devastating impact of coal mining in Appalachia. He remembers when he first saw the impact of mountaintop removal mining: “It was like the first time you look into a slaughterhouse after you’ve spent a lifetime of eating hamburgers.” The film travels to Mesquite, Nev., where residents are fighting a coal-fired plant, and also to China to explore the health impact of coal there—an important piece of the story not included in any of the other films reviewed here. The film’s strength is its exploration of alternatives to coal—wind, solar thermal, increased energy efficiency through recycling “waste heat”—which makes this a valuable resource for science as well as social studies classes. The treatment of carbon dioxide sequestration may confuse students; the film simultaneously suggests that this is a terrible idea in North America but a good one in China. But, on the whole, Dirty Business is a fine and lively overview of a complicated issue.

Asia and Africa: Living on the Edge
The Human Consequences of a Warming Planet

Documentary Frontline / World 2008. For a year and a half, reporter Martin Smith investigated global climate change for Heat, a two-hour Frontline broadcast. In “Living on the Edge,” Smith travels to the foothills of the Himalayas, to parched areas of Eastern Africa and to the Namibian coast to share some devastating field notes from this looming environmental catastrophe.

Climate Refugees

Documentary 2009 NR 1hr 24m. Filmmaker Michael P. Nash’s stark documentary outlines a frightening vision of a future in which depleted resources and shrinking coastlines force millions of people to become “climate refugees.” But where will they go?

Everything’s Cool

Documentary The Age of Stupid 2007 NR 89 minutes. In this documentary, filmmakers Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand (Blue Vinyl) follow a troupe of self-proclaimed global warming “warriors” on a mission to get the world to care about rising temperatures and melting polar ice caps. Taking a topic that’s inherently serious and applying their signature blend of humor and emotional heft, Gold and Helfand advance the environmental dialogue in a surprisingly entertaining way.

Global Warming: Rising Storm

Documentary 2007 NR 2 discs. This educational series provides an in-depth look at global warming, detailing the effects of 250 years of fossil fuel burning and examining scientific predictions for the future of the planet. Greenhouse gases, created by burning oil and coal, have accumulated in the Earth’s atmosphere and caused numerous scientifically verifiable shifts in the environment. Left unchecked, this process will place the very fate of the planet in peril.

A Global Warning?

Documentary 2007 NR 94 minutes. With Arctic ice melting, sea levels rising and the mercury edging up across the planet, global warming has become a hot-button issue. This presentation attempts to determine whether natural cycles or human impacts are to blame. Following scientists to 14 remote locations — where they look to the skies as well as the Earth’s core for answers — the film weighs the effect of both natural events (such as volcanic eruptions) and human activity.

Hot Politics

Documentary Frontline 2007. Frontline and the Center for Investigative Reporting go behind the scenes to explore how bi-partisan political and economic forces prevented the U.S. government from confronting what may be one of the most serious problems facing humanity today. The film examines some of the key moments that have shaped the politics of global warming, and how local and state governments and the private sector are now taking bold steps in the absence of federal leadership.

Out of Balance

Documentary 2007 NR 65 minutes. Documentarian Tom Jackson turns his lens on some inconvenient truths about energy titan Exxon Mobil and its effect on climate change. Spotlighting the company’s efforts to fund skewed media campaigns and support global-warming skeptics, Jackson builds his case in interviews with leading writers and scientists in the field of climatology. The film also explains the science behind global warming, as well as offering up some solutions to the crisis.

Too Hot Not to Handle

Documentary 2006 TV-G 53 minutes. A hundred years in the making, civilization’s demand for fossil fuel has contributed to a global warming crisis, and this warning documentary reveals evidence of the damage in the United States. Heat waves, devastating storms, liquefying glaciers, the rise of sea level and circulation of disease are just some of the signs of impending disaster. This cautionary film examines the environmental dangers and the measures needed to reverse the trend.

The World’s Changing Habitats

Documentary Series 2005 NR 4 discs. Hosted by Greg Grainger, this breathtaking documentary explores how various habitats are struggling to survive in the face of change, as both environmental events and man-made influences make an impact on their ecosystems. Some of the areas explored include the Arctic, Madagascar and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Grainger has produced and hosted numerous award-winning travel and wildlife documentaries exploring remote locations.

What’s Up With the Weather?

Documentary Frontline 2000. Since the late 1980s, rising temperatures and dramatic weather-from heat waves and hurricanes to melting glaciers-have fueled a global political and scientific debate about whether life on earth is imperiled by human-caused global warming. Nova and Frontline join forces to examine what climatologists really know about the greenhouse effect. What is the connection between rising levels of carbon dioxide and rising temperatures? And what will the real impact of global warming be? The program examines the enormous difficulty in reducing the levels of greenhouse gases in a highly technological world economy and explores the political struggle between environmentalists and industrialists, between rich and poor countries, to grapple with what promises to be the most perplexing issue of the twenty-first century.

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