These Environmental Documentaries will most probably change your life...

Bold claim I know! But I can put my hand on my heart and say that watching every single one of these opened my eyes wider than they had been before...

I've always been fascinated by the ever-changing world around us and the creatures that live alongside us, and in 2016 I vowed to become less 'comfortably unaware' about our precarious position on this planet. In becoming less 'comfortably unaware' I must add that there is a certain level of discomfort, of anxiety, of fear that comes with the realisation that whilst we are, as a species, an evolutionary phenomenon we are also the greatest potential catastrophe Earth has witnessed since the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. These are not warm, uplifting, convenient narratives. They are the ugly, unflattering, damning truth of the matter, and the points they make may well keep you awake at night. 

I won't bang on for too long. Click play on any of these documentaries and you'll soon find out for yourself exactly why I write so ardently about them all but I'd like to leave you with one cold hard fact that quite literally stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it:

Human kind has single handedly killed off more than 50% of all living things on the planet in the past 40 years. Thats animals, plants, sea-life, birds.... half of every single thing... gone. 

Proud to be part of our species? 

1. BEFORE THE FLOOD

Leonardo Di Caprio is now almost as well known as an activist and environmentalist as he is an Oscar Award winning actor (just take one glance at his instagram account). Travelling to 5 continents to witness the effects of climate change first hand he also speaks openly and frankly with big players on the global stage like Barack Obama and Elon Musk. IT'S. REALLY. GOOD.

Find out where you can watch it here

2. RACING EXTINCTION

Created by the Oscar-winning director Louie Psihoyus who made 'The Cove' (below), Racing Extinction shows filmmakers and activists going undercover to expose the full extent of the illegal trade of endangered species; a black market second only to the illegal drug trade in size and profits. That's more than the illegal arms trade or human trafficking! With the overarching theme of just how quickly we as humans are bringing about the Anthropocene Extinction, the film explores poaching, overpopulation and will most likely make you very VERY angry at the Chinese.

Find out where you can watch it here.  

3. COWSPIRACY

Whilst the title of this film may sound a little over-dramatic, be assured that with Leonardo Di Caprio as Executive Producer (he is literally everywhere) this is an insightful and gripping piece of work. Shedding light on one of the most destructive industries on the planet; the meat industry, the film investigates why even the worlds' most prominent environmental organisations (like Greenpeace) are too afraid to talk about it. 

Watch it now on Netflix. 

4. THE COVE

I challenge anyone not to be moved to tears during this harrowing depiction of the mass capture and slaughter of dolphins in Japan. Using state of the art spyware, hidden cameras and secret microphones the team uncover the devastating truth about what really happens in this remote and hidden cove in Taiji. Starring Ric O'Barry, the man who captured and trained the five dolphins for the TV series 'Flipper', the levels of responsibility and remorse he feels for triggering the worlds fascination with sea-life in captivity is heartbreaking. 

Watch here

5. BLACKFISH

SPOILER ALERT: At the time of this post going live, Tilikum, the orca around which this documentary revolves, died in captivity last week. Read more here

There's no getting around it - this film is brutal, depicting both whale and human in an unbiased and objective light. It soon becomes apparent that the capacity for cruelty and destruction can be found in both man and creature if driven to the brink of madness. There is so much we do not know about the way other animals brains work and yet we consider ourselves the superior species? 

Find out where you can watch it here

6. EARTHLINGS

Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix and released in 2005, this documentary feels slightly dated to watch and verges on the preachy at times; mainly due to its rather dramatic comparisons of animal slaughter to sexism and racism. Despite the overly emotive and constant piano music, I would still urge you to persevere but take a deep breath and maybe don't eat anything that isn't a vegetable during the film.

It is extraordinarily difficult to watch and left me feeling physically revolted. I could not walk down the meat aisle in my local supermarket for a few weeks without wanting to vomit. Recommended for the brave and strong-of-stomach only! Full film linked below.

7. THE IVORY GAME

"Traders in ivory actually want extinction of elephants. The less elephants there are, the more the price rises." Exposing the network of organised crime that underpins the poaching of elephants this documentary highlights the harsh reality and real danger of working on the frontline of elephant conservation. 

Are we really going to allow the biggest mammal on earth to disappear in our lifetime!?

Watch in full on Netflix. 

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION - Elizabeth Kolbert

If you're intrigued by any of the references to humans and our role in triggering the most radical extinction of species since the end of the dinosaurs then I highly recommend you read this book: 'The Sixth Extinction' by Elizabeth Kolbert.

Split into 13 manageable chapters each dealing with a different animal or timeframe, it's a beautifully written introduction to the overarching issues of overpopulation, climate change and species loss explored in all the documentaries above.