This weekend, the Southwestern U.S. is set to have record breaking temperatures, with some areas anticipated to see heat waves of a 120 plus degrees. Heat waves are just one of the myriad ramifications of global warming, which also include epic flooding in areas of Texas, out of control wildfires, catastrophic hurricanes, and more. Global warming has become a hot button issue among politicians, big business, and environmentalists over the last decade, as we increasingly see the effects of humans on the earth. If things continue the way they’re going, future generations are in big trouble.
Several documentaries have surfaced in the last few years highlighting the devastating toll humans have taken as pillagers of nature. These thoughtful and informative films are at the forefront of the movement to correct course and save our planet.
Chances are you’ve probably encountered this film while perusing through your Netflix recommendations. Released in 2008, this award-winning documentary is still generating buzz about the inhumane and unsustainable practices of America’s corporate-run food industry. Directed by Robert Kenner, Food, Inc. explores what’s behind the shelves of the modern supermarket: corporate greed. This greed, it is suggested, outweighs protecting consumer health, the welfare of farmers and workers, and environmental sustainability. Before your next trip to the grocery store, you may want to sink your teeth into this eye-opening documentary.
If you were thinking about selling your oil and gas royalties for a nice chunk of change, you might think again after watching Gasland. In this Academy award nominated documentary released in 2011, filmmaker Josh Fox explores the impact of oil extraction on the environment and the agricultural communities that often rely on the land to survive. Often, oil & gas companies will offer generous cash to landowners in exchange for the right to explore and drill oil on their properties. While many are eager to get the cash in their pockets, when Josh was offered $100K for the oil rights on his land, he instead started investigating. In this documentary, he takes you along on his quest for the truth about the oil industry. What he finds is that oil production, particularly the controversial practice of fracking, introduces a number of toxins and pollutants that often seep into the water supply. In heavily drilled areas, residents offer suffer from chronic health issues and can’t use the natural water supply for drinking or watering crops and livestock. If you haven’t guessed, Josh opted not to take the generous offer from the natural gas company.
James Balog, a famed photographer for major publications including Smithsonian and National Geographic, first got the inspiration for this documentary when he was sent to photograph the Arctic tundra. As he fell in love with the icy landscape, he became incensed over the effects of global warming and set out to educate the public on the impact of pollution. In a project called Extreme Ice Survey, Balog installed time-lapse cameras to capture the disappearance of glaciers across Greenland, Iceland, and Alaska, which are receding each year as the planet continues to warm. What they captured is astounding – the audience gets to see huge glaciers slough off into the sea. The shift in climate threatens the natural habitat of hundreds of species that call the Arctic home.
A whopping 71% of our earth’s surface is covered in water, and of that 96.5% is in our oceans. In Blue Planet, an eight-part documentary released by BBC in 2001, we get an extremely comprehensive view of our planet’s oceans. The film took 5 years to complete, and with more than 200 filming locations, editors had a lot of cutting to do to condense footage to less than 7 hours of play time. In the well-crafted episodes, we get to see everything from sea turtles beaching in Costa Rica to grey seals thriving off the coast of Nova Scotia. Though the documentary doesn’t overtly discuss the impact of human activity on the world’s oceans, it will certainly make you appreciate the mesmerizing diversity of ocean life and understand the need to protect these fragile and complex ecosystems.