Earth and Climate Documentaries

Earth and Climate Documentaries You Should Watch This Summer (Or Anytime!)

By Grace Wang
Sustainability Analyst
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

a girl watching a nature showWhen it is hot outside and the only thing you want (or can do) is sit indoors and stay out of the heat, putting on a documentary is one of many ways to pass the time. Documentaries are great ways to stay entertained while learning a new concept, opening your eyes to a new perspective, or finding a new conversation starter. Here is a brief list of my favorites about our Earth and climate, and reasons why it is worth a watch on a nice, summer’s day in.

Chasing Coral

Chasing Coral dives deep into our oceanic world and comprehensively explains coral reef ecosystems and the current conditions in which coral are suffering in. The viewer follows the journey of a team who spends every day for many months taking photos at multiple sites to present to the world just how drastic climate change has a toll on coral reef health. The changes they track are astonishing and frightening. The devotion of these scientists towards their goals makes Chasing Coral a personal favorite documentary of mine.

2017, 1h 33m

Where to Watch: Netflix

Our Planet

Narrated by David Attenborough, the series Our Planet dives into the impact of climate change and how “in a space of one human, civilization has changed.” Impressive images of the planet (including a rainbow!) showcase the raw beauty of processes as simple as feeding. The documentary beautifully describes the ties between species interactions and abiotic climate conditions across an array of ecosystems. This documentary evokes deep feelings of wonder and curiosity. It is hard to imagine how different the world is from the one we know as our own, and the documentary tells the story of how interconnected the entire world truly is. You can also enjoy some cute baby Flamingoes in the first episode!

2019, 48-54m per episode

Where to Watch: Netflix

Kiss the Ground

Dirt is the focus of Kiss the Ground narrated by Woody Harrelson. The movie encompasses many angles, appealing to our own instrumental interests in food and health, and debunks common misconceptions, like our misunderstanding that carbon is always bad. We learn about the potential of “regenerative agriculture” to balance and replenish the Earth and food network. Check out their website after watching the documentary for more insight on the issues.

2020, 1h 24m

Where to Watch: Netflix or free Editorial Cut for students and teachers

The Year Earth Changed

Animals and humans come head-to-head in The Year Earth Changed about life in lockdown due to the global COVID-19 pandemic giving rise to a bloom of nature. David Attenborough narrates this documentary about the impacts of reduced everyday human behavior on both the species themselves and our human interactions with them. My favorite footage was the Capybaras in Argentina and seeing the juxtaposition of built homes and manicured lawns with their natural foraging habits. This documentary is hopeful and uplifting, and at many times, funny.

2021, 48m

Where to Watch: Apple TV+

Others that have been highly recommended to me, but I have not gotten a chance to watch:

  • The Condor and the Eagle
  • Fire In Paradise
  • After the Fire

Happy watching!!!