Al Gore

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#1Thing: Our Favorite Films That Promote Sustainability

June 25, 2019

By Lori Melton

Despite a heightened sense of awareness of the delicacy of Earth and its inhabitants, a plethora of environmental issues loom across the globe which potentially threaten future generations. Climate change, the freshwater crisis, air and ocean pollution, and a biodiversity decline are just some of the concerns the government, industry, and individual citizens need to combat now before it’s too late.

Filmmakers far and wide have told compelling stories to shed light on huge ecological problems like these. If you want to learn more about some of them, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite films that promote sustainability. Check it out below.

“Sharkwater Extinction” (2018)

Unfortunately, so many species are facing extinction. This riveting documentary won the 2019 Shared Earth Foundation Award for Advocacy at this year’s Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. It follows filmmaker and director Rob Stewart as he travels the globe to visit places like Spain, West Africa, Panama, France and more to explore and expose the illegal shark fin industry.

Stewart boldly delves into an entire pirate fishing trade and how the illegal activity is contributing to shark extinction. He embarks on a dangerous mission to expose the criminal acts and help save the sharks from extinction and the oceans in which they live.

“Before the Flood” (2016)

Presented by National Geographic, this film follows Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels across five continents and the Arctic on a journey to observe the devastating effects of climate change firsthand. 

As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, DiCaprio meets with scientists, corporate leaders like Elon Musk, and President Barack Obama to discuss this critical global issue. The film raises awareness and exposes a strategic disinformation campaign. Directed by Fisher Stevens, this documentary also won the Shared Earth Foundation Award for 2017.

“Chasing Coral” (2017)

This Netflix documentary takes a captivating look at a very serious problem. The Earth’s wondrous coral reefs are dying at a cataclysmic rate.

According to a World Resources Institute study, over 4,000 species of fish and 800 kinds of coral make up the coral reef. By the 2050s, over 95 percent of global reefs will be subject to thermal stress which can cause severe bleaching.

The film tracks divers, scientists, and photographers as they gather evidence and discuss how climate change and ocean acidification are killing this vast, colorful underwater ecosystem.

“An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)/”An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (2017)

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s documentary about global warming earned Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song in 2007. The film was based on Gore’s educational presentation about the disastrous effects of global warming which he has delivered to global audiences over a thousand times.

The film was directed by Davis Guggenheim. It grossed $24 million at the U.S. box office and $26 million internationally. These totals ranked the film at No. 11 in Box Office Mojo’s listing of highest-grossing documentaries.

In 2017, Paramount Pictures released “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the film follows Gore as he explores global efforts to fight climate change and his attempt to convince government leaders to invest in renewable energy, resulting in the 2016 signing of the Paris Agreement. The sequel earned a Best Documentary BAFTA Award nomination.

 “Drowning in Plastic” (2018)

Wildlife biologist Liz Bonnin journeys to remote places like a coastal island in Australia in this eye-opening BBC documentary that highlights the deadly effects of plastic on marine life. Trillions of plastic particles are killing multitudes of creatures. Plastic is literally choking the life out of innocent fish, seabirds, coral and more.

Bonnin visits scientists who are working hard to find solutions to the lethal plastics crisis. She also visits marine biologists and campaigners to get a true picture of the ongoing problem. This film raises acute awareness of this deadly challenge while also sparking an urgent call to action.