Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 documentary Before the Flood (currently being streamed for free on the National Geographic YouTube channel) is thought-provoking, astounding and another reminder why we all have to make a difference to lay the right foundations for our future generations.
It’s not the first documentary on climate change and it certainly won’t be the last. But it’s a subject close to the Hollywood actor’s heart.
It sends him on an impressive journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, travelling to five continents and the Arctic to see the catastrophic evidence of climate change for himself.
If you enjoyed his documentary and have a thirst for more, we’ve come up with our Top 10 climate change and sustainability films/documentaries below.
Let us know which others you’d add to the list.
(Oh, and for any sceptics out there who are wondering how Leo could be so concerned about climate change and then jetset all over the world to produce a documentary about it, his carbon emissions were offset through a voluntary carbon tax. So there.)
1. ‘Seeds of Time’ (2013)
Cary Fowler is an American agriculturist from Tennessee whose ultimate aim is to protect the world’s food supply.
The documentary shows how Mr Fowler was instrumental in developing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, to protect our crops from an uncertain future. The vault is a $9 million facility in a remote archipelago in the Arctic, home to more than 783,000 distinct crop varieties. But with genetic diversity being under threat from climate change and mono-culture, the global food system is more at risk than ever before.
There really is no time like the present to fully appreciate your corn on the cob.
2. ‘Monsoon’ (2013)
Many of us may whinge about the gloomy, rainy British weather but viewing some serious climate change situations will really make us take stock.
A glimpse into the lives of those who are affected by the monsoon weather phenomenon in India is brought to us by award-winning Canadian filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson.
The Indian subcontinent is hit by atrocious rainfalls each year. Filmed over the course of the 2013 rainy season, Monsoon is a cinematic journey, giving us glimpses into the lives of those who thrive within the breathtaking landscapes.
The filmmakers chased the monsoon on its annual journey from the southern state of Kerala, to India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya. Along the way, they meet a remarkable group of individuals whose lives are entwined with the phenomenon that some call ‘the soul of India’.
Watch this and you’ll never moan about having to take your umbrella to work again.
3. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows former Vice President Al Gore on the lecture circuit, as he campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of global warming and calls for immediate action to rein in its destructive effects on the environment.
This documentary makes it clear; global warming is real, man-made and its effects will be cataclysmic if we don’t act now.
Our climate crisis may appear to be happening slowly at times, but the alarming fact is that it is actually happening very quickly.
Gore warned increasing carbon dioxide emissions would cause catastrophic global warming that would spur more extreme weather and wipe out cities.
If to stop global warming, humans need to ditch fossil fuels and basically change every aspect of their lives, are you ready to finally step up to the challenge?
4. Food Inc. (2008)
Directed by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner, this Oscar-nominated documentary focuses on the state of the American food system and industry.
It features interviews with average Americans about their dietary habits, alongside producers and farmers.
It’s fair to say it is an unflattering focus on corporate farming in the States and the multinationals that are mentioned apparently refused to appear in the film.
Watch this if you are looking to change your view on the food you choose to eat. Now what do you fancy? A dirty (and we mean dirty) burger or beans on toast?
5. Greensburg (2008)
On May 4, 2007, the Kansas town of Greensburg was struck by an EF5 tornado that destroyed 95 per cent of the rural community.
Residents decided not only to stay and rebuild, but to do so in an environmentally conscious manner. This TV series (produced by Leo himself) documents the hard slog in Greensburg as the entire town is rebuilt from scratch up to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.
This isn’t the easiest task to accomplish, as the residents soon learn, but their muscle power and dedication eventually pays off as the newly designed, green town slowly begins to take shape.
Hang on…a twister in Kansas? A green town? Like, emerald green? Sounds like these hard working residents also wanted a happy ending and to prove There’s No Place Like Home.
6. Cowspiracy (2014)
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length documentary following filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organisations are seemingly too afraid to talk about it.
It is claimed animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution and is – perhaps surprisingly – responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry.
Kip Andersen’s environmental awakening came as a result of watching An Inconvenient Truth . After seeing the film, he began to recycle as much as he could, turn off lights, shower infrequently and ride a bike instead of driving.
He believed he was doing everything he could to help the planet but then he discovered more about animal agriculture and its links to environmental destruction.
A new cut of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, is executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson and Appian Way Productions, and was exclusively released on Netflix on September 15, 2015.
That Leonardo is a very busy man.
7. The 11th Hour (2007)
This documentary film shows Leonardo DiCaprio has been hard at it again, as he narrates with a strong focus on the state of the earth.
The reference to the “The 11th Hour” is the last moment when change is possible. The film explores how we’ve arrived at this moment – how we live, how we impact the earth’s ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course.
It features dialogues of experts from all over the world, including former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev, renowned scientist Stephen Hawking, former head of the CIA R. James Woolsey and sustainable design experts William McDonough and Bruce Mau.
There are also more than 50 leading scientists, thinkers and leaders who discuss the most important issues facing our planet and people.
8. The True Cost (2015)
This documentary film is a groundbreaking story about clothing. It’s about the garments we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world.
The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically.
The True Cost asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing? Filmed in places all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, we are invited into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.
The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. It’s time we consider who actually made the very pair of jeans we are currently wearing, and what their life is like as a result.
9. The Cross of the Moment (2015)
This feature-length documentary investigates the environmental crisis which is evident in the climate change surrounding us all, in the form of treacherous drought, severe storms and rising temperatures.
Taking a title from W.H. Auden’s Poem, “The Age of Anxiety”, the documentary delivers a powerful message about where we are at the moment, and where we could end up if we don’t change something regarding our lifestyle.
Global warming is responsible for a lot of the worldwide environmental crises that we’re currently experiencing.
One of the biggest issues that exacerbates global warming and its effects is overpopulation and the need for affluence – mobile phones and other gadgets that depend on fossil fuels for their manufacture – for example.
10. Revolution (2015)
Revolution is a feature documentary about opening your eyes, changing the world and fighting for something. This true life adventure follows director Rob Stewart who uncovers a grave secret threatening our own survival as a species.
He embarks on a life-threatening journey for four years and through 15 countries and brings the viewer to some of the most incredible wildlife spectacles ever recorded.
Here you will find yourself face to face with sharks and on the hunt with the deadly flamboyant cuttlefish. From the coral reefs in Papua New Guinea to the rainforests in Madagascar, Stewart’s journey meets activists and individuals all over the world that are winning the battle to save the ecosystems we depend on for survival.
Revolution inspires audiences across the globe to start a revolution and change the world forever.