Students examine the causes and effects of global warming and delve into questions of who is most responsible for and vulnerable to the changing climate. Students also grapple with how to respond to climate change in ways that are both effective and fair.
Below is a list of possible documentaries for the “Films and Climate Change” lesson. Teachers should preview films to be sure that they are appropriate for their classrooms.
I am Greta is a documentary about teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. Starting with her one-person school strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament, the film follows Thunberg’s rise to prominence and her galvanizing global impact as she sparks school strikes around the world. The film culminates with Thunberg’s voyage by sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City.
Chasing Coral examines the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans. A team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on an adventure to document the disappearance of the world’s coral reefs.
Kiss the Ground is a documentary that makes the case that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies. Using compelling graphics and visuals, along with striking NASA and NOAA footage, the film illustrates how, by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle.
2019 UN Global Youth Video Competition features young activists from Portugal, Brazil, and the United States. The activists share stories of their local communities and successful efforts to impact climate change and inspire others to contribute:
- Raquel Gaião Silva documents the work of Portuguese NGO “Ocean Alive” to educate students and the local fishing community in order to promote behavior change, reduce destructive fishing, and protect seagrass meadows.
- Rafael Forsetto and Kiane Assis explore agroecology. They document how farmers in Paraná, Brazil avoid pesticides and seek to increase biodiversity and reduce the ecological impact of their agricultural practices.
- Callie Broaddus describes what inspired her to set up “Reserva: The Youth Land Trust,” an organization designed to empower youth to fight climate change and biodiversity loss through land conservation. Reserva is working to create the world’s first entirely youth-funded reserve in Ecuador’s Chocó Rainforest.
Postcards from Climate Change is a collection of short films created by Greenpeace. These videos address some of the ways particular communities are experiencing climate change. They can be accessed for free on the Greenpeace website.
Chasing Ice is a documentary about a photographer using time-lapse photography to show visual evidence of climate change in the Arctic.
Shored Up is a documentary about the impacts of sea level rise along the eastern seaboard. It also touches on the political and financial conflicts in the United States about climate change and how to respond.
Thin Ice follows the daily lives and work of climate scientists around the world, creating a full-length documentary that aims to counter climate skepticism. Some of the language used in the film to explain scientific concepts may be challenging for students. In addition to the full-length film, short videos showing climate scientists at work can be accessed for free at the Thin Ice project’s website.
Sea Change is a project of the Seattle Times. It includes a series of short videos and accompanying articles about the effects of ocean acidification on marine life and why those changes are important to people. It can be accessed for free on the Seattle Times website.
Isle de Jean Charles is a short documentary about the Isle de Jean Charles, a tiny island in southern Louisiana. The film focuses on the lives of two people who live on the island whose families are facing a future where rising seas, coastal erosion, and storms are threatening to wash their home away.
Our Changing Climate follows the student filmmaker Finn Harries, who says, “We are the first generation to grow up learning about climate change, and we’re also the last generation who really get the opportunity to tackle it,” on a trip to Greenland to learn more about melting ice sheets and the international risks of rising sea-levels.