1. The Cove
This Oscar winning documentary ruffled many feathers on its release in 2009 and follows Flipper trainer Richard O’Barry, now a marine activist out to expose and end the horrific slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. Director Louie Psihoyos and his team set out to covertly capture an unfolding deception and marine tragedy in a confronting, bracing doco described by Rolling Stone as “a cross between Flipper and The Bourne Identity”.
2. Greedy Lying Bastards
It may not be able to keep the bastards honest but this unapologetically incendiary documentary from 2012 aims to expose the lies behind the propaganda of big money climate change deniers - from oil conglomerates ExxonMobil to politicians to conservative billionaires the Koch Brothers. The propaganda machine is contrasted with the very real and very personal effects of climate change.
3. Plastic Paradise
If you’ve ever wondered where plastic goes to congregate after its cosmopolitan or industrial life? Welcome to one shocking destination, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch or Midway Atoll, a large island in the Pacific Ocean. As journalist Angela Sun discovers, it’s a tangle of plastic destruction with startling effects on wildlife and a stark reminder of humankind’s love affair with plastics.
4. What’s Killing Our Bees?
Like a case strand straight out of The X Files, British TV presenter and beekeeper Bill Turnbull investigates what’s killing off swarms of bees in the English countryside. Potential culprits include pesticides, climate change and a deadly virus as scientists hope answers will be found by tracking bees using tiny radar transponders.
5. Banking Nature
Can we preserve species and environments by giving them a financial value, to safeguard the earth and secure its salvation? That’s the curly question asked in this thought provoking documentary where nature becomes “natural capital” and natural processes such as oxygen generation become an “ecosystem service.” But is this relatively new business model trustworthy when its major advocates were key players in the global financial crisis?
6. Can GM Food Save the World?
Though genetic modification remains a controversial practice, could it help to prevent a global food crisis? In this documentary, an unlikely inquisitor in sustainable farming advocate Jimmy Doherty travels the world in a six month exploration to see how GM could factor into agricultural systems and weighs up the benefits with the environmental and health risks.
7. How Many People Can Live on Earth
Beloved naturalist Sir David Attenborough sets out to investigate the impact of over population on an increasingly fragile world. His globetrotting journey uncovers how dwindling resources are affecting the earth and its people and the potential solutions being implemented. Attenborough asks if the solution should be a personal one - could we save the world by committing to population control?
8. The End of the Line
Fronted by investigative reporter Charles Glover, this is a thought provoking and devastating exploration of unsustainable fishing practices around the world. Filmed over two years, director Rupert Murray unveils first hand the devastation our love of fish is having - the potential extinction of Bluefin tuna due to the demand for sushi for example - and points the finger at politicians, celebrity chefs and us, the consumers.