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Eduard Starkbauer
August 30, 2022, 5:00pm
Reading time: 6:23

How Are Your Clothes Made? Where Is The Fish On Your Plate From? The Must See Documentaries About The Climate Crisis

You will learn a lot from these films, even if you may not feel completely comfortable watching them.

Eduard Starkbauer
August 30, 2022, 5:00pm
Reading time: 6:23
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Global climate change is being talked about more and more in the media and in society. You can despair that all is lost and the world is bleakly falling into ruin, apathetically resent humanity or outright hate it.

However, you can also take a deep breath, get excited about the planet and try to take ecological limits into account: change your diet, limit flying, recycle, support non-profit organisations or put pressure on politicians who are often not at all clear on the matter.


Watch these impressive documentaries to understand more about the current state of the Earth, and the climate crisis we found ourselves in. The films in our selection focus on different spheres of a global problem, so there is no danger that you will watch "the same film" only in different adaptations. However, they have a common message: nature can manage even without usIt is us, and our civilisation, that are in real danger.


Source: Unsplash/NOAA


True Cost (directed by Andrew Morgan, 2015)

Where to watch: Youtube
Length: 92 minutes
Rating on RT: 6,3 / 10



The clothing industry is one of the top five most polluting industries in the world. It is responsible for up to 10 percent of greenhouse emissions. In the documentary from 2015, you will see, in addition to the ecological effects of fashion, the cruel reality of the exploitation of employees in Bangladesh or India, who sew clothes for Western fast fashion brands.



From the original two fashion seasons, we now have 52, and thanks to the low prices of clothes, their production and the resulting waste continue to increase. The film presents the birth of fast fashion and how clever marketing and social networks benefiting from human weaknesses contribute to its blossoming.

The film is available for free on YouTube and takes you on a journey from (literally) deadly factories and mentally challenged children due to pesticides to poisoned rivers to fair-trade initiatives, fashion conferences and greenwashing.


Hidden Life of Trees (directed by Jörg Adolph, 2020)

Where to watch: HBO Max
Length: 100 minutes
Rating on RT: 9,5 / 10



The German documentary was based on the book bestseller by forester Petr Wohlleben. The author accompanies us through the entire film, and thanks to his explanation, you will learn how to carefully walk through the forest, listen to its needs and find out if it is healthy.

The sluggish pace of the film and the non-dynamic theme present a challenge for the viewer. With its form and content, the film reminds us that restoring and saving biotopes is sometimes a bit boring. However, it is all the more important. 



We learn how heavy mechanization ruthlessly destroys fragile forest ecosystems. In addition to Germany, the staff will also visits Poland and Canada, where mining is taking place in historic virgin forests. The patient viewer will learn why humans naturally have a higher sensitivity to animals than to plants and we will also be treated to an adorable animated sequence.

The film does not neglect the horrors of stressed urban trees. It conveys a deep message about interdependence, which can also be transferred to human society.


Cowspiracy (directed by Kip Andersen, 2014)

Seaspiracy (directed by Ali Tabrizi, 2021) 

Where to watch: Netflix
Length: 85 and 89 minutes
Rating on RT: 8,8 / 10 and 7,5 / 10


Definitely don't order a hamburger with a Kip Andersen movie, and if you finish watching it, you might never order one again. The shocking and "difficult to digest" investigative documentary presents a controversial idea: the biggest culprit of global climate change is the animal industry, and the most important environmental organizations are deliberately and shamefully silent about it.



Animal farming for meat and milk, which is associated with methane emissions, is the main cause of deforestation, water consumption and soil pollution, according to the film. The film does not show as many images of cruelty as the similarly aimed feature Earthlings from 2005. With the statements of activists, scientists and animations, it explains how the breeding of farm animals contributes to the destruction of rainforests, the extinction of species and hunger.



The documentary Seaspiracy, both productionally and thematically related, talks about the immediate risk of overfishing and the creation of ocean "dead zones". Its author, Ali Tabrizi, embarks on a personal pilgrimage, during which he clarifies the consequences of the devastation of the ocean floor or the pollution of marine habitats by fishing equipment.

Both films have drawn criticism for their use of bombastic and not always accurate statistics. However, they are definitely worth paying attention to, as they open up extremely important and unpopular topics.


E-Life (directed by Edwarda Scott-Clark, 2018)

Where to watch: Netflix
Length: 76 minutes
Rating on IMDB: 7,1 / 10


It is not common to repair electrical products today, it is either impossible or not worth it. We prefer to dispose of our mobile phone, television or washing machine in an ecological way and expect them to be disposed of in the spirit of recycling. However, not all electrical waste ends up in the right hands. The independent British documentary by Edward Scott-Clark takes you to an illegal e-waste dump in Ghana, where poor citizens, including children, extract precious metals from used electronics.



They earn a living by extracting precious materials, but many heavy metals end up in the soil and in their bodies. A brief monothematic document follows the life cycle of electrical products. It suggests improvement in the form of a circular economy and better product design.


David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet 

(directed by Alastair Fothergill, 2020)

Where to watch: Netflix
Length: 83 minutes
Rating on RT: 9,6 / 10


The personal testament of the seasoned BBC documentarian looks back on almost 70 years of his career. The iconic presenter and member of the British environmental movement summarizes the history of industrialization and climate change in a charismatic voice. He begins and ends his narrative symbolically in Chernobyl, and claims that humanity today faces an even greater risk, stemming from the loss of biodiversity.



From a visually impressive work, interwoven with archival footage, you can feel hopelessness, sadness and futility, but also fascination and love for all living things. David Attenborough has watched industrialization and the related destruction of nature from the front row all his life. However, at the same time, it also offers hope and possible solutions, how to get out of the crisis.

His dire warnings and messages are therefore worth listening to. The document also offers the extremely controversial idea of voluntarily limiting the human population. In an uplifting conclusion, he also talks about veganism and renewable resources.


Kiss the Ground (directed by Joshua Tickell, 2020)

Where to watch: Netflix
Length: 85 minutes
Rating on RT: 8,8 / 10


An optimistic American documentary narrated by actor Woody Harrelson from a personal perspective focuses on land management. It presents the experiences of farmers, people from practice and some celebrity activists. Thanks to exemplary farmers, we see how their soil binds greenhouse gases, maintains abundance and supplies of drinking water. The ideas of the film are simple: if we save the soil, it will save us, and stopping soil erosion may prevent social erosion.



In a film full of spectacular music, slow-motion shots and scientific visualizations, you will learn about balance and sustainability, but also about the health risks of excessive use of toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

In the fight against erosion leading to desertification and climate chaos, the document offers a solution in the form of sustainable agriculture, afforestation and grassing. And yes, also the reuse of human excrement.


Fire in Paradise (directed by Zackary Canepari, 2019)

Where to watch: Netflix
Length: 40 minutes
Rating on RT: 8,3 / 10


Devastating forest fires plague the entire planet this summer. The short documentary from Netflix looks at the burning destruction through the eyes of the residents, police and employees of the town of Paradise, California. Dynamically, with human speech and phone recordings, it describes the course of the devastating fire in 2018 and the painful and paradoxical evacuation. Thanks to the testimonies of the participants, we will get a glimpse into the tragedy of the community, which lost 85 inhabitants and 12,000 buildings.



The American documentary beautifully and dramatically explains the sequence of events without excessive melancholy. Due to climate change, forest fires will spread to hitherto safe geographical zones in the coming years. Apocalyptic traumatic experiences and the feeling of material and personal loss, such as we see in the film, will be experienced by many.


How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change) (directed by Josh Fox, 2016)

Where to watch: Youtube
Length: 125 minutes
Rating on RT: 7,5 / 10


Probably the most original film from our selection was made by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Josh Fox. The film is available for free and without ads on Youtube (in lower quality and without sound in the first three minutes). The director's voice-over would stand up even in literary form. It describes the personal overwhelm with pessimistic scenarios and the journey to find hope in a hopeless situation.

A visually captivating work with a lyrical quality and frequent hand-held camera shots, it combines the creator's reflections, the opinions of scholars and the experiences of indigenous activists.



Footage from the four corners of the globe focuses on the manifestations and effects of fossil fuel consumption: drastic weather fluctuations, deadly smog, rising oceans and oil spills.

By meeting optimistic communities and their leaders, the director comes to gain hope: the fight against social inequality and climate change must take place simultaneously. The author goes through a rebirth from apathy to sincere and hard-won enthusiasm, which from the beginning appears naive to the point of absurdity.


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Thumbnail: Netflix, Twitter/David Attenborough
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