“There is nothing more humanizing than short documentary films; they grab the heart, offer a window into the daily lives of real people, and allow students to see other cultures and places as populated by living, breathing human beings on a planet we need for our survival.” Jennifer Klein, Buck Institute
In this approximately 17-minute TED Talk, Chad Frischmann poses the question: what if we took out more greenhouse gases than we put into the atmosphere? He argues that this hypothetical scenario, known as “drawdown,” is our only hope of averting climate disaster. In this talk, he shares solutions to climate change that exist today and about how we can reverse global warming and create a world where regeneration, not destruction, is the rule. The video is appropriate for ages 12+.
Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) Our Climate Our Future has award-winning videos on climate change aimed at students in 6th-12th grade. Their visually appealing and entertaining videos are easy-to-understand and are appropriate for younger students as well. Several activities are focused on inspiring youth action on climate. All resources are free with the creation of a website login using an email address.
Climate Change 101 is a 4-minute video to give students an overview of climate change. Ideal for 3rd grade and up.
Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientist is a series of short videos appropriate for upper-elementary students and older. Dr. Hayhoe is a climate communications expert, and her visually appealing and easy-to-understand videos would be an excellent supplement to classroom instruction or just an entertaining way for people of all ages to learn more about climate change.
This is an inspiring 3-minute video featuring Mexican-Chilean climate activist and member of the indigenous Mexican Otomi-Toltec nation, Xiye Bastida. This video is appropriate for people of all ages.
In February 2021, Nancy Weeks Singham a member of the Land Witness Project and Beata Tsosie-Peña from Tewa Women United discussed their climate justice work. The Land Witness Project highlights stories about the impact of climate change on New Mexicans lives and livelihoods. This video would be great for use in a discussion of climate justice and indigenous rights in a middle or high school classroom.
David Roberts is a staff writer at Vox news, covering topics related to energy, climate change, and politics.
In April 2020, over 6,500 people joined Solve Climate by 2030’s Power Dialogs, a series of live virtual seminars hosted in states across the U.S. where local speakers discuss solutions to climate change and climate justice. This is a recording of the New Mexico seminar, featuring speakers from the NRDC, Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, and Sandia National Laboratory. Appropriate for high school and up.
The Story of Stuff has many short videos on current environmental issues and ways students can be involved.
The Original Story of Stuff fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. From its extraction through sale, use, and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. It exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something; it’ll make you laugh; and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
This is a collection of TED talks by innovative thinkers on climate change. They are grouped into 9 topics: it’s real, the big picture, the forecast calls for, why climate change is a human rights issue, how do you solve a problem like the climate crisis, etc. Once you find a topic of interest, click play, and you can see all the videos on the playlist by topic and duration.
Prince Ea is a rapper and spoken word artist who has a deep concern for climate change. In his short videos, Prince Ea warns of the devastation of climate change and an urgent call to action. Get your students talking and writing their own spoken word. They will definitely connect to Prince Ea’s words. Ideal for middle school and high school students. Two recommendations are Man Vs. Earth and Dear Future Generations: Sorry.
An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore 2006
The best-known documentary on climate change that won the 2006 Academy Award. It raised awareness about climate change and brought it into popular culture. The film remains a good introduction for students. Students can investigate what has happened in the 12 years since the film was made, how it has shaped the environmental movement, and what still needs to be done.
Al Gore’s 2016 TED Talk “The case for optimism on climate change” is a 25-minute talk that summarizes recent research and positive news on solar energy and social movements to address climate change.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore 2017
The film addresses the progress made to tackle the problem and Gore’s global efforts to persuade governmental leaders to invest in renewable energy, culminating in the landmark signing of 2016’s Paris Agreement. Watch the trailer and register to receive it for classroom viewing.
The Water Protectors at Standing Rock captured world attention through their peaceful resistance. While many may know the details, AWAKE, A Dream from Standing Rock captures the story of Native-led defiance that forever changed the fight for clean water, our environment, and the future of our planet. The film is a collaboration between Indigenous filmmakers, Director Myron Dewey, Executive Producer Doug Good Feather and environmental Oscar-nominated filmmakers Josh Fox and James Spione. It is a labor of love to support the peaceful movement of the water protectors.
Before the Flood features Leonardo DiCaprio on a journey as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, traveling to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. He goes on expeditions with scientists uncovering the reality of climate change and meets with political leaders fighting against inaction. He also discovers a calculated disinformation campaign orchestrated by powerful special interests working to confuse the public about the urgency of the growing climate crisis. With unprecedented access to thought leaders around the world, DiCaprio searches for hope in a rising tide of catastrophic news.
Chasing Ice is an award-winning documentary of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by taking amazing photography and videos to show the rapid recession of glaciers.
Chasing Coral looks at how reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers, and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. The science of climate change and coral reefs told in a dramatic, exciting true story. Streaming on Netflix. Lesson Plans for Chasing Coral
Chasing Coral QuestionsThese are guiding questions and for 7-12th grader students to complete as they watch Chasing Coral.
Free download Do The Math
The math is simple: the fossil fuel industry has five times the amount of coal, gas and oil that even the most conservative governments know is safe to burn. Left to their own devices, they’ll push us past the brink of cataclysmic disaster and life as we know it will be irrevocably altered forever – unless we rise up and fight back. In November 2012, best-selling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben and 350.org — the organization he co-founded — hit the road to raise awareness of this terrifying math and build a movement to challenge the fossil fuel industry.
When Josh Fox receives a $100,000 offer from a natural gas company interested in exploring in his land in Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Basin, he decides to do his own research on drilling and the process known as fracking. Josh sets out to interview those who live near drilling sites, and his findings are frightening — their wells contaminated, residents can actually set their tap water on fire. Visits to sites in Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas yield similar horrific findings. It premiered at the Sundance film festival 2010, where it was awarded the 2010 Special Jury Prize for Documentary. In June of 2010 it premiered on HBO to an audience of 3 million homes, was seen by over 250,000 audience members in its 250 city grassroots tour. The film was nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for best documentary and won a 2011 Emmy for best non-fiction director among numerous other awards.
In How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change, Oscar Nominated director Josh Fox continues in his deeply personal style, investigating climate change – the greatest threat our world has ever known. Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?
Kiss the Ground is a Netflix documentary released in 2020 that showcases healthy soils as the “missing link” in the climate crisis. The film includes the science behind soil’s ability to absorb carbon, interviews farmers involved in a regenerative agricultural movement to improve soil health while sustainably producing food, and a discussion of a variety of ways that doing so will benefit ecosystems. The film is narrated by Woody Harrelson. It is available in its full-length form on Netflix (and other streaming services), and a free 45-minute educational cut is available for teachers (in digital and dvd formats).
This hour-long documentary tells the story of scientists and citizens working together to resist the oil and gas lobby’s ongoing efforts to pass a fracking-friendly ordinance in Sandoval County, New Mexico. It details the risks posed by fracking to the entire middle Rio Grande aquifer. Ideal for middle and high school students. This documentary is interdisciplinary and could be shown in science, social studies, and civics classes. See the free streaming of Sacred Land Sacred Water.
Narrated by Alec Baldwin, Six Degrees explores the tipping point in climate change and the alarming changes that we all will face. Students will feel the sense of urgency to learn and take action.
Tales By Light, Netflix
Darren Jew is an Australian nature and underwater photographer who uses his images to promote conservation and engagement. He is featured in Canon’s ‘Tales by Light’ photography documentary in Season 1 Submerged, where he shows how local community engagement in Indonesia has helped protect fragile coral reef habitats.