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Lights, Camera, Climate Action: Climate Change Movies and Documentaries You Must Watch In 2023

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By illuminem

· 12 min read

This article is part of an educational series to spread free & quality sustainability knowledge for all.

Key Takeaways

  • Al Gore’s thought-provoking film, "An Inconvenient Truth”, was the first climate change movie to scoop Academy Awards in 2007.
  • Chasing Ice is the first movie to capture the effects of global warming on Arctic glaciers over several years.
  • Cowspiracy is a unique film that shows the link between climate change and animal agriculture.


Climate change is a heavy issue many people would rather shy away from. But as global temperatures continue to rise and glaciers melt, it’s a pressing issue we can’t avoid. If talking about climate change isn’t your cup of tea, and you want to learn more about the phenomenon, environmental films are an excellent place to start. From captivating blockbuster films to heart-wrenching documentaries, several movies about climate change can bring you up to speed on the issue. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best climate change movies you should watch.

Snowpiercer (2014)


Snowpiercer Official US Release Trailer #1 (2014) - Chris Evans Movie HD

Critically acclaimed for his Oscar award-winning film Parasite — Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer is another stellar film by the South Korean director. After a failed climate-change experiment kills everyone but the occupants aboard a train circling the globe — the occupants become divided into different social classes in a battle for survival.

Like Parasite, the film addresses class issues, but it’s a foreboding tale about how society could disintegrate in the future if we don’t deal with climate change.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

The Day After Tomorrow

The Day After Tomorrow - Official® Trailer [HD]

Some people don’t heed the warnings of environmentalists because the possibility of a cataclysmic environmental disaster feels far-fetched or, at worst, lightyears away. But what if a looming ecological catastrophe could upend the Earth sooner than we think?

Well, that’s what precisely happens in The Day After Tomorrow. In the thought-provoking film directed by Richard Emmerich, Jack Hall (played by Dennis Quaid), a paleoclimatologist, warns world leaders about an impending ice age. Unfortunately, world leaders ignore his warnings, and the Earth plunges into an ice age.

2040 (2019)


2040 - Official Trailer

Many climate change movies paint a dystopian view of the future. If you want to watch a more uplifting film, check out 2040. Rather than showcasing a grim future, the movie follows the journey of a father (Damon Gameau)  who imagines a hopeful future for his daughter, who will turn 21 in 2040. In the film, he traverses the globe in search of sustainable solutions to fight climate change, to create a more sustainable future for his daughter. 

Eating Our Way to Extinction (2021)

Eating your way up to extinction

Eating Our Way To Extinction | Trailer

"Eating Our Way to Extinction" is a documentary that highlights the impact of the food industry on climate change and how it affects the planet. The documentary exposes the negative impact of industrial farming and animal agriculture on the environment and how these practices are contributing to climate change and causing catastrophic natural disasters.

Unlike usual nature documentaries, "Eating Our Way to Extinction" focus was to raise awareness about the direct link between the food we eat and climate change. The documentary aims to educate viewers about the impact of their food choices and how small changes in our diets can help preserve humanity.

Overall, "Eating Our Way to Extinction" provides an eye-opening look into the often-overlooked impact of the food industry on climate change and encourages viewers to take action in their daily lives to reduce their carbon footprint and protect the planet.

Don’t Look Up (2021)

Dont Look Up

DON'T LOOK UP | Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence | Official Trailer | Netflix

Climate change is a serious issue. But climate change movies don’t have to be all doom and gloom. Don’t Look Up is a testament to this.

Featuring a star-studded lineup of Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and Jennifer Lawrence, the film follows the story of a science professor and graduate student who discover a comet will destroy the Earth if nothing is done. Consequently, they embark on a mission to warn the public and world leaders about the impending disaster, but their warnings aren’t taken seriously.

While the film centers on a comet, it’s metaphorically about climate change. It’s a hilarious film demonstrating that comedy can contribute to climate change action by engaging viewers, changing perceptions, and stimulating discussions about the issue.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)


An Inconvenient Truth (2006) Official Trailer #1 - Al Gore Movie HD

Many world leaders don’t take climate change as seriously as they should, as highlighted in environmental films like The Day After Tomorrow and Don’t Look Up. Thankfully, Al Gore isn’t one of them. In An Inconvenient Truth, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim follows the former US presidential aspirant’s campaign to educate the public about global warming and its potential effects.

In the seminal film that feels like sitting through a compelling class lecture, Al Gore talks to audiences about climate change, renewable energy, and other environmental issues using PowerPoint slides, graphs, and charts to drive home his ideas. 

While it doesn’t have explosive scenes like some of the movies on this list, it’s a moving, thought-provoking, and occasionally hilarious film that might inspire you to take action. It’s also the only film on this list to win two Oscars, making it a must-watch.

Before The Flood (2016)


Before the Flood - Trailer | National Geographic

We can’t sit back, relax, and pretend climate change isn’t happening. Before the Flood is a documentary that’s a sharp reminder of this bitter truth. The documentary follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he traverses the globe showcasing the impact of global warming. From melting glaciers in Greenland to smoggy skies in Beijing, the film shows the devastating effects of global warming in various parts of the world.

But the film isn’t entirely pessimistic. It also explores what society can do to mitigate the effects of climate change, and it might just inspire you to participate in afforestation efforts.

Chasing Ice (2012)

chasing ice

"CHASING ICE" captures largest glacier calving ever filmed - OFFICIAL VIDEO

Are glaciers really melting? Chasing Ice (2012) is a documentary film that provides a visual representation of how climate change affects our planet Earth. The film follows a climate activist and photographer, James Balog, on his mission to capture the rapid melting of glaciers and ice caps through time-lapse photography.

This documentary exposes the reality of how science fiction is becoming a reality, as the hastening climate change is resulting in catastrophic events like rising sea levels and natural disasters. Chasing Ice raises public awareness about the urgency of addressing climate change and its devastating impacts on our planet. The film concludes with an urgent warning that we must act now to prevent irreversible damage to our environment.

Overall, Chasing Ice is a must-watch documentary that provides a powerful message and encourages viewers to take action toward preserving our planet for future generations.

Cowspiracy (2014)


COWSPIRACY - Official Trailer - HD

While many climate change movies often spark fierce debates about the issue, Cowspiracy is undoubtedly one of the most controversial. The film explores the link between animal agriculture and climate change, arguing that animal agriculture is the biggest culprit of global warming and carbon emissions. 

Thanks to this assertion, the film received heavy criticism from several scientists who criticized it for its misleading message. “Movies like Cowspiracy aren’t believable, not only because of how they twist the science but also because of what they ask us to believe: that the fossil fuel industry—the ExxonMobils of the world—aren’t the main cause of global warming…,” Doug Butcher said in a review of the movie (Boucher, 2022).

Nonetheless, despite the film’s questionable facts and the backlash it received, it’s an engrossing film that you should watch — especially if you’re looking for a great conversation starter during meals.

The Age Of Stupid (2009)


The Age of Stupid - Trailer

The Age of Stupid is a documentary film that sheds light on the catastrophic events of climate change and calls for urgent action to protect the environment.

The film is set in the future, looking back at how humanity failed to prevent the hastening of climate change, causing devastating consequences. The documentary exposes the reality of how our actions are affecting planet Earth and the urgent need to address these issues. The film concludes with a powerful message from a climate activist, urging viewers to take responsibility and make changes to reduce their carbon footprint. The Age of Stupid is a thought-provoking documentary that stands as a warning to humanity and calls for environmental protection.

The documentary condemns the treatment of the environment and calls for individuals and governments to take action to combat climate change. It is a must-watch film for anyone concerned about the future of our planet.

Princess Mononoke (1997)


Princess Mononoke - Official Trailer

Check out Princess Mononoke if you’re looking for a climate change movie the kids will also enjoy. The anime chronicles the story of Ashitaka, a courageous young warrior stricken by a life-threatening curse that compels him to go on a journey for a cure through a mystical forest.

On the way, he finds himself caught in a tense conflict between the forest gods protecting the forest and a mining colony threatening the forest.

Despite being released over two decades ago, it’s a timeless film showcasing how humanity’s inability to co-exist harmoniously with nature can destroy the ecosystem. 

The Power oF Film In Shaping Public Perception Of Climate Crisis And Global Warming

The film is a powerful medium that can shape the public’s perception of the climate crisis and global warming in several ways, such as:

  • Educating the public: Film can educate viewers about the complex science behind climate change in a digestible way, making it easy for viewers to understand the causes, effects, and possible solutions to the issue.
  • Creating awareness: Films can generate awareness about climate change, helping more people to understand the severity of the issue and why it’s essential to address it.
  • Encouraging action: Films can encourage viewers to take action against climate change by taking measures such as using public transportation, recycling materials, and using energy-efficient devices.
  • Promoting advocacy: Films can encourage viewers to speak up against climate change and global warming by equipping audiences with the knowledge required to engage with policymakers about the pressing issue. 

The Potential Of Climate Change Movies To Become A Catalyst For Change In The Fight Against Climate Change

climate change

Climate change movies don’t just offer excellent entertainment value. They can also play a significant role in inspiring audiences to take action to address the climate crisis.

According to research conducted by a research scientist at Yale, people who watched The Day After Tomorrow were more likely to purchase a fuel-efficient car, donate money to fight global warming and speak up about global warming compared to people who hadn’t watched the film (Action! How Movies Are Helping Young People Fight Climate Change and Other Global Challenges, 2022).


What Is The First Climate Change Movie?

The first ever climate change movie is a contested topic as various films discussed the issue before the term “climate change” became popular. However, one of the earliest films to mention the issue was “The Unchained Goddess,” released in 1958.

Is Wall E About Climate Change?

wall e

Wall-E is an animated film that explores several themes, including climate change. The story follows Wall-E, a robot left on Earth to clean it up after humans trash the planet and leave for space.

While the film isn’t explicitly about climate change, it raises several environmental concerns, such as the negative impact of wasteful consumerism on the environment and the need for sustainable consumption.

What Disney Movie Is About The Ecosystem?

Strange World is a Disney movie that’s explicitly about the ecosystem. The animated movie follows three generations of the Clades — a family of explorers on a mission to save their community from an energy crisis. Their community — Avalonia —  faces an unexpected energy crisis when forced to ditch its main energy source in favor of a more sustainable power source.

Is Happy Feet About Climate Change?

Happy Feet is a movie that has some climate change themes. The film primarily follows the journey of Mumble, a penguin on a mission to rescue his colony after they become entrapped in a snowy valley they can’t escape.

As the story unfolds, the film explores various environmental issues related to climate change, like overfishing and the negative effects of human activities on the ecosystem. 

What Movie Is About The World Ending Climate Change?

The Day After Tomorrow is a grim film that depicts a cataclysmic environmental disaster that plunges the Earth into an ice age. It’s a stark warning that climate change could wreak havoc on the planet sooner than we think.

What Is The Netflix Movie About Ocean Pollution?

Seaspiracy is a Netflix documentary that explores the impact of industrial fishing on the marine ecosystem. The film, produced by the makers of Cowspiracy, tackles controversial issues, such as how the use of dolphin-safe labels on seafood is inconsequential in the fight to protect marine life and how fishing nets endanger aquatic life.


Watching movies and documentaries on global climate change is not only entertaining but also educational and inspiring. By gaining a deeper understanding of the impact of climate change and the urgent need for action, we can initiate positive environmental change in our own lives and communities. The movies and documentaries listed here provide different perspectives on the complex issue of global climate change, and each offers its own unique insights and solutions. So, grab some popcorn and settle in for an eye-opening and thought-provoking viewing experience that just might inspire you to take action and make a difference.


Boucher, D. (2022b, July 6). Movie Review: There’s a Vast Cowspiracy about Climate Change. The Equation.

Action! How movies are helping young people fight climate change and other global challenges. (2022a, May 20). World Economic Forum.

Wikipedia contributors. (2023). Climate change. Wikipedia.

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