Along with a good chunk of the environmental space, Grist is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the release of An Inconvenient Truth, the Oscar-winning documentary that dragged climate change in front of the eyeballs of millions. (Check out our complete oral history of the film and interviews with the activists, politicians, and artists it influenced.)
Perhaps you’re in celebration mode, too, and have re-watched the documentary in all its early-2000s Keynote glory. (If not, you can for free today!) Perhaps you’re feeling inspired. Stand tall! Sub out that incandescent sack of filaments for a lovely compact fluorescent lamp! You’re an environmentalist!
Now wipe your brow with a recyclable, grab an armload of in-season fruit, and binge watch these classic environmental docs next.
From Participant Media (the same folks that produced An Inconvenient Truth), Food, Inc. tells the story of our utterly zany industrial food system. After watching, this author stopped eating fast food for good (though, to be honest, not for lack of desire). Watch: Netflix.
Josh Fox’s documentary on hydraulic fracturing helped launch the anti-fracking movement. A true conversation about climate change isn’t “possible without the awareness An Inconvenient Truth brought,” he told Grist, but here’s a conversation-starter, by way of the energy system. Watch: Netflix.
Photographer James Balog traveled to the Arctic to capture photos of dramatically receding — and in some cases, disappearing — ice. If you weren’t already convinced climate change is serious, these glaciers beg to differ. Watch: Netflix.
This Changes Everything
When Naomi Klein published This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate in 2014, she pointed to climate change as an opportunity to rework our entire economic system. But what about the people in that system? The film project of the same name is, according to director Avi Lewis, “a portrait of community struggle around the world on the front lines of fossil fuel extraction and the climate crisis.”
For the optimal dose of anger and action, don’t sub the book out for the movie: Soak ’em both in back-to-back. Watch: iTunes, Amazon.
Under the Dome
China has an air pollution problem. In Under the Dome, that problem is laid out with pressing slideshow wizardry. Remind you of another environmental movie? Deborah Seligsohn, former principal adviser to the World Resources Institute’s China energy and climate program, points to the documentary as An Inconvenient Truth’s most immediate descendent. “In four days, it had 250 million views on the web. That’s the influence,” she told Grist. Watch: YouTube (below!).
Catching the Sun
Catching the Sun confronts the big questions imposed by a burgeoning global solar industry. Is a 100-percent solar-powered world achievable? And if so, who stands to benefit? Director Shalini Kantayya has called mainstream environmentalism “a thing for the privileged.” As she told Grist, “If you have extra money, you can put solar panels on your home or pay for organic food.”
The documentary is Kantayya’s take on where environmentalism should be heading. Spoiler alert: It’s a story of hope, not doom. Watch: Netflix.