16 Must Watch Movies On Climate Change

This blog walks you down a list of 16 intriguing movies on climate change that can make you brood over the climate crisis.

Did you know the CO2 emissions due to energy-related activities on a global scale were around 36.44 billion metric tons in 2019. Scientists and environmental activists have been warning the world population about the adversities of climate change for a long time.

Vitruvius, a Roman writer and architect, probably first wrote about climate change when discussing ways to choose housing architecture and city locations in the 1st century BC. Next, a Chinese scholar of the Northern Song dynasty and Statesman Shen Kuo explained the theory of gradual climate change over centuries in their book published in 1088.

But, James Edward Hansen, a distinguished scientist and an American professor at the Earth Institute of Columbia University once expressed that warning about the consequences of climate change is similar to screaming at people from behind a soundproof glass wall. Quite a similar notion was portrayed in the Netflix blockbuster released last year – Don’t Look Up.

The importance of cinema comes here which has often been a preferred medium of conveying crucial messages and even radical theories to the masses effectively. People relate to engaging movies more than any other form of mass media. Therefore, we have curated a list of the best documentaries and commercial movies on climate change for the climate-conscious cinephiles.

16 gripping movies on climate change

This section of the article will enumerate great tales told in the best documentaries about climate change and the best climate change movies that will blow your mind.

Best documentaries about climate change

Documentaries often cut the theatrics to tell an unknown and true tale to create awareness among a wider audience.

1.    Carbon Nation (2010)

Available On: Prime Video, VUDU, HULU

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

Director: Peter Byck

movies on climate change
Image Credit: Amazon.ca

Carbon Nation is undoubtedly the best climate change documentary because it educates us about climate change from an optimistic perspective – no negative vibes and no despair.

Narrated by Bill Kurtis, this documentary was made in collaboration with Arizona State University. It focuses on what are the different climate change solutions and celebrates the heroes at the forefront of the impending climate crises.

Rather than turning the limelight on the carbon load created due to the burning of fossil fuels, this documentary highlights the technological and community-based energy solutions to reduce the carbon footprint.

2.    The Island President (2011)

Available On: Prime Video

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Director: Jon Shenk

movies on climate change
Image Credit: Filmaffinity

The government of Maldives has been panic-stricken ever since 1988 regarding the sea-level rise and sinking of 1196 small islands as a direct consequence of global warming.

According to several reports from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, almost 80% of the Maldives would be rendered uninhabitable by 2050.

A documentary by Jon Shenk, The Island President, emphasizes the efforts of Mohamed Nasheed, the President of the Maldives Islands back in 2011. The movie premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was showered with accolades by the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Institute.

3.    Chasing Ice (2012)

Available On: Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV/iTunes, Microsoft Movies

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

Director: Jeff Orlowski

climate change movies
Image Credit: UW Sustainability

As per NASA, the polar ice caps are thawing at an alarming rate of 9% every decade. Since the 1960s the Arctic Ice has reduced by 40%. A single block of the Arctic’s ice called the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf began cracking in 2000 and is now splitting into little pieces.

James Balog, a nature photographer went to the Arctic Circle to capture the melting of the Arctic glaciers with his revolutionary time-lapse camera (Extreme Ice Survey) to get a multi-year record.

4.    Chasing Coral (2017)

Available On: Netflix

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Director: Jeff Orlowski

movies on climate change
Image Credit: The Berkshire Edge

After the glaciers, if anything else is taking the direct brunt of global warming, it is the corals. According to NPR, the world’s 14% of coral reefs were lost between 2008 to 2019.

More than 500 hours of underwater footage collection and coral bleaching submissions acquired from volunteers of 30 countries, paved the way for this Netflix climate change documentary.

For this documentary, a team of marine biologists, scientists, divers, and photographers came together for an epic underwater campaign to find out the reason of coral bleaching and its direct correlation to global warming.

5.    Kiss the Ground (2020)

Available On: Netflix

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

Director: Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell

best climate change documentary
Image Credit: Kiss the Ground

Featuring science experts and celebrity climate activists like Ian Somerhalder and Gisele Bündchen, Kiss the Ground, is described as “Groundbreaking” by Awards Daily.

Narrated by Woody Harrelson, this documentary takes you on a journey of renewed hope by enlightening us about the first viable solutions to the human-made climate crisis.

With innovative graphics, visual representations, and authentic footage from NASA and NOAA, this documentary unveils how the Earth’s soil can be rejuvenated and lost ecosystems restored to stabilize our planet’s climate.  

6.    Youth v Gov (2020)

Available On: Netflix

IMDb Rating: 6.8/10

Director: Christi Cooper

Image Credit: Digit

In 2015, 21 young plaintiffs sue the government of the US for its ignorance and indolence towards the climate crisis. Youth v Gov is the story of the 21 American youth vs. The United States of America constitutional lawsuit.

Our Children’s Trust, a legal non-profit has been representing the interest of the country’s youth. This landmark case against one of the world’s most powerful governments is filed for violating the constitutional rights of the youth to liberty, life, personal safety, and property by allowing the climate crisis to unfold through inaction, indifference, and parsimony.

7.    David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet (2020)

Available On: Netflix

IMDb Rating: 8.9/10

Director: Alastair Fothergill, Jonathan Hughes, Keith Scholey

Netflix climate change documentary
Image Credit: IMDb

Sir David Attenborough, biologist, author, and English broadcaster narrates this British Netflix climate change documentary. He begins his narrative overview from Pripyat (infamous for the Chernobyl disaster) and transcends through Africa, the Arctic, and Antarctica.

This documentary is described as a “witness statement” where Sir David Attenborough recounts his key moments as a documentarian. He expresses his views on how the planet is moving towards the Anthropocene extinction event due in a century’s time rather than a few millennia needed for the previous mass extinctions.

8.    I Am Greta (2020)

Available On: Hulu

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

Director: Nathan Grossman

movies on climate change
Image Credit: IMDb

Who hasn’t heard of Greta Thunberg, the teenage environmental activist? Thunberg attracted attention when she began holding placards 2018 onwards outside the Swedish Parliament with the words – “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (school strike for climate).

She further garnered public attention and even gained support from big Hollywood stars when she challenged Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, for climate change mitigation.

This Hulu documentary follows Thunberg on her international movement to catch the attention of the intellectual masses, world leaders, and the world media.

Best climate change movies

A good drama, fantasy, thriller, or action-packed film can sometimes speak to your heart and leave a mark forever. There is no dearth in climate change Hollywood movies that can pull you out of your cocoon to confront the stark reality. Here begins the list of commercial movies on climate change.

1.    The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Available On: Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

Director: Roland Emmerich

The Day After Tomorrow
Image Credit: Prime Video

What would happen if the sea level rises unprecedentedly?

This is what is depicted in the movie The Day After Tomorrow. A Jake Gyllenhaal starrer, this sci-fi film is undoubtedly one of the best climate change movies of all time. Based on the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell & Whitley Strieber, this film envisages the aftermath that would follow after the disruption of the North Atlantic Ocean Circulation.

The movie shows the onset of a sudden ice age in the northern hemisphere and the survival struggle of the people trapped in such places. Besides this, it also portrays the blindness of global political leaders, paleoclimatologist Jack Hall’s endeavor to bring back his son home, and the best part of the movie lies in the illustration of humanity’s fragility in front of Mother Nature’s mightiness.

2.    Avatar (2009)

Available On: Prime Video, Disney Hotstar, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Director: James Cameron

movies on climate change
Image Credit: ArtStation

A futuristic movie where humankind has escaped to Pandora to find a new means of sustenance after depleting Earth’s resources completely and debilitating her environment, James Cameron’s Avatar is the highest-grossing movie of the modern era. Avatar also bagged three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, and Best Cinematography.

Avatar highlights the energy crisis that humanity would face on Earth in the next century, thereby forcing them out of their home planet in search of a valuable mineral “unobtanium” on Pandora, a fictional gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system.

 3.    Snowpiercer (2013)

Available On: Netflix

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Director: Bong Joon Ho

movies on climate change
Image Credit: IMDb

If you are looking for a thrilling and chilling post-apocalyptic dystopian movie on climate change that presents the picture of Earth after humanity fails to deal with the climate change crisis, then Snowpiercer would make a perfect watch.

The beauty of the movie lies in the accurate portrayal of humanity’s ineptness to revere what they still have and the constant strife for resources, survival, and the need to dominate.

It is based on the French graphic climate fiction novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette. Snowpiercer will shock you when it would unveil the delicate balance between the good and evil that supposedly holds everything in between. This critically acclaimed movie features outstanding performances from Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. 

4.    Interstellar (2014)

Available On: Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Director: Christopher Nolan

movies on climate change
Image Credit: Amazon

An all-time favorite of mine and a masterpiece of Nolan, Interstellar is a modern-age movie that transcends time, space, dimensions, and even gravity. It is not just a movie that projects hope for humankind’s future, it indeed shows how alone humans can hinder and help each other to survive and always find a way.

It features an ensemble cast including Mathew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine in important roles and commendable performances from then-child actors Mackenzie Foy and Timothée Chalamet.

Kip Thorne, Caltech’s theoretical physicist and 2017 Nobel laureate in Physics, acted as the chief scientific consultant for the film and was also an executive producer for the movie. Besides this, did you know that Kip Thorne also wrote a tie-in book, The Science of Interstellar?

It shows Earth in 2067 when six billion people have been lost due to an acute food crisis, the planet is being devoured by extreme dust storms, crop blights, and an imbalance in the atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen levels is ultimately threatening a mass extinction of the human species.

5.    Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Available On: Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Director: George Miller

Mad Max
Image Credit: IMDb

Mad Max: Fury Road is a post-apocalyptic action film envisioning a future facing a dearth of gasoline and water. Set in a desert wasteland, it is the story of two individuals who want to set free from the cult leader.

With a tagline of “the future belongs to the mad,” this movie takes you on an action-packed ride. Considered to be one of the greatest action movie of all time, it won six Academy Awards including Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing & Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and hairstyling, Best Production Design, and Best Film Editing. 

6.    Geostorm (2017)

Available On: Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV

IMDb Rating: 5.3/10

Director: Dean Devlin

climate change film
Image Credit: Geostorm

Gerard Butler starrer Geostorm is a science fiction disaster movie that conveys a simple message that humans can never control nature.

Set in the near future, this is one of the movies on climate change that shows the catastrophic side of humans trying to take control over climate itself and directing weather phenomena.

In 2019, when Earth is enduring severe weather conditions, “Dutch-Boy” – climate-controlling satellites are pioneered and launched around Earth to maintain the habitable climate of each region. Soon it becomes the target of havoc-wreakers leading to cataclysmic events. 

7.    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)

Available On: Netflix

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Story of William Kamkwamba
Image Credit: IMDb

Based on the memoir of William Kamkwamba, written by him and Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind, is the story of a 13-year-old schoolboy living in Kasungu Malawi.

In this British drama film, the young boy builds a prototype first and then innovates a wind turbine using his family’s bicycle to save his village from drought and famine. Thus, this movie demonstrates how the younger generation plays a crucial role in devising climate change solutions.

8.    Reminiscence (2021)

Available On: Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, Apple TV

IMDb Rating: 5.8/10

Director: Lisa Joy

Image Credit: IMDb

Starring Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson, Reminiscence is a neo-noir sci-fi movie built with the impact of climate change in the backdrop.

In the future, when global warming has led to the rise in sea level in several coastal belts of the world including Miami and people are unable to work during the daytime forcing them to walk out at night, old memories are what people are holding onto.

The Final Verdict

The first-ever documentary on climate change was released in 1958 called The Unchained Goddess by Frank Capra. Next, in 1983, PBS’s NOVA became the most-watched primetime science series in the US that addressed climate change challenges.

So, movies on climate change, documentaries, and docuseries can kickstart the adequate amount of climate-consciousness among the masses that even elaborate climate reports and news articles fail to achieve. Eco-friendly content not only surpasses genre-specific barriers, but also entertains, enthralls, and thrills you just like flicks from other genres.

Hopefully, our recommendations will not only provide you with enough content to do a movie marathon over a long weekend but it will also enlighten you about the global climate crisis and the role you can play to reduce your carbon footprint.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.