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The 21 Best Environmental Films of 2022

There are so many great environmental films out there but thanks to we have a ranking of the 21 best. With climate change on the verge of radically changing our lives unless we make significant changes, there's no better time for us to get educated on all that we can do to make a difference. These 21 films will help you do just that!

1. The Human Element (2019)

First on our list of the best environmental films is The Human Element. Centred around climate change, The Human Element chronicles the quest of environmental photographer James Balog to highlight how the four elements — air, earth, water and fire — are being altered by the fifth element of human activity. Pioneering in its videography, the documentary reveals how global warming has drastically contributed to wildfires and hurricanes that disrupt human-nature balance. To examine the impact, Balog visits Americans at the forefront of climate change, including inhabitants of Tangier Island, a fishing community facing rising sea levels. The documentary encourages audiences to reconsider their relationship with the natural world.

2. Before the Flood (2016)

Next on our list of the best environmental films is Before the Flood, a collaboration between actor and Earth Alliance co-founder Leonardo DiCaprio and National Geographic. Taking viewers around the world, the documentary features poignant accounts of how different stakeholders are affected by climate change, through deforestation, rising sea levels and other human activities. The film calls for world leaders to fight for a more sustainable future and arms viewers with solutions they can implement into their lives, from reducing meat consumption to voting for leaders who will initiate positive environmental change.

3. Eyes of the Orangutan (2021)

A debut feature by internationally acclaimed environmental photojournalist Aaron Gekoski, Eyes of the Orangutan details the abuse of primates in the tourism industry. The film documents how orangutans and other wildlife animals are forcibly removed from their natural habitats and are made to perform for humans in degrading displays, as well as shed light on how orangutan-smuggling syndicates work. While there are no shortage of shocking and upsetting scenes, it’s an incredibly important film highlighting wildlife exploitation and tourism, and the discussion whether tourists are just as responsible and complicit in animal abuse as the poachers.

4. 2040 (2019)

2040 is a refreshingly optimistic pick if you want something less grim. Rather than focusing on the urgency of problems, the solution-oriented documentary seeks out creative alternatives to tackle challenges of climate change. In particular, it imagines technological breakthroughs which, supported by academics and ecological experts, have the potential to reverse the situation by the year 2040. Cases in point include renewable energy like rooftop solar, shifts towards regenerative agricultural practices, and the versatile use of seaweeds as a facilitator of food security.

5. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

An Inconvenient Truth is a concert film recounting former US Vice President Al Gore’s campaign in 2000 to educate people about global warming, making the documentary stand out in its experimental narration. This presentation on climate change, Gore claims, has been delivered to worldwide audiences more than 1 000 times. Apart from detailed graphs, flow charts and visuals, the Keynote slide show also collates personal anecdotes of Gore such as his college education with an early climate expert. The film concludes with Gore stressing how “each one of us is a cause of global warming, but [….] the solutions are in our hands.” This is one of the seminal- and best- environmental films made.

6. RiverBlue (2017)

Moving on to water habitats, RiverBlue follows Canadian conservationist, professor and paddler Mark Angelo embarking on an unprecedented three-year river journey around the world. During his adventure, he unveils the irreversible damage that the global fashion industry has inflicted on water supplies. Through interactions with local conservationists interspersed with footage of rivers and seas heavily polluted by toxic chemicals, this eco-fashion film urges us to reevaluate our thirst for fast fashion and reorient our consumption practices

7. Artifishal (2019)

Produced by Patagonia, Artifishal exposes the impacts of overfishing, with a specific focus on wild salmon, which are now on the verge of extinction in North America. The documentary sheds light on the implications of wild salmon farming in aquaculture farms and fish hatcheries which is one of our many attempts to exploit nature for profit. Artifishal opens a rarely honest window on how our obsessive taste for seafood is eroding the diversity of ecological systems

8. Chasing Coral (2017)

A Netflix original documentary, Chasing Coral, captures an assembled team of divers, photographers and scien