If you've ever wondered what we're going to do when we've pumped the last oil well dry and excavated the last lump of coal, you're not alone. But thankfully, you don't have to comb through scientific journals to find your answers. The answer could be as simple as pressing 'Play' on a documentary. That's right—cinema has a green thumb, and it's sprouting docuseries and documentaries that are seeding conversations about sustainable fuels and a cleaner, better world.
So what's the big fuss? Climate change, global warming, and depleting natural resources have put us on a ticking clock. The need for sustainable fuel is no longer an academic debate; it's an urgent crisis. According to the International Energy Agency, renewable energy could provide more than 40% of global power generation by 2040, but only if we act swiftly. Enter documentaries and docuseries, our contemporary town criers. These are not your average popcorn flicks; they are educational arsenals available on platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and GuideDoc, designed to inform you about what could very well be the most critical issue of our times.
There is something about the documentary format—be it doc, docu, docudrama, or docuseries—that lends itself to subjects as weighty as sustainable energy. The realness of the problem meets the realness of the medium. Documentaries don't just throw facts and figures at you; they tell stories. They take you to the melting Arctic, inside the labs creating biofuels, and into the lives of people whose survival depends on sustainable energy. They're the perfect vehicle for change in a world that desperately needs it.
Planet Earth: Renewable Revolution
Power to the People
An Inconvenient Sequel
Before the Flood
In this eye-opening documentary, one citizen embarks on a relentless quest for truth, dissecting whether choosing an electric car is a selfish faux pas or an eco-conscious lifesaver. Explore the intricate layers of sustainability and morality in the choices we make for our planet.
A spinoff of the iconic "Planet Earth" series, this Netflix exclusive delves deeply into the world of renewable energy. The docuseries is divided into multiple episodes, each focusing on a specific type of sustainable fuel—from solar and wind to nuclear and hydroelectric energy. Experts and innovators in the field take viewers on a fascinating journey from the barren deserts transformed into solar fields, to the highest wind turbines in the cold mountains. It also covers the geopolitical aspects of energy, exploring how countries like China and Denmark are making strides in adopting renewable energy on a national scale. An in-depth view for anyone wanting to understand the future of our planet's energy needs.
In the remote, wind-swept mountains of northwest Argentina, Flora's daily ritual unfolds as she leads her herd of a hundred llamas in search of grazing pastures. But each season brings dwindling resources; her llamas grow thinner and the already arid landscape turns increasingly barren. Beneath these high plains of the Salinas Grandes lies a resource that's both a curse and a blessing: one of the world's largest lithium reserves. International corporations are pumping the region's last vestiges of sweet water into vast containment areas to extract this valuable element, essential for the insatiable battery industry. This encroachment imperils not just Flora's way of life, but also the indigenous Kolla and Atacama communities who have relied on traditional salt production for generations. The documentary "Oro Blanco" captures this complex struggle in hauntingly poetic visuals, offering an intimate look at the lives and anxieties of people fighting to preserve their land and livelihoods.
Accessible to all via YouTube, "Power to the People" is a hard-hitting doc that moves away from governmental and corporate narratives to focus on community-driven initiatives. Through interviews with indigenous communities, small-town residents, and urban innovators, the documentary explores how localized, small-scale renewable energy projects can revolutionize our approach to electricity generation and consumption. It criticizes the bureaucracy and red tape that often stifle green initiatives and provides a counter-narrative that is both empowering and informative.
This gripping documentary captures the transformation of Ken Ward, a seasoned environmentalist who grows disillusioned with institutional inertia. Faced with mounting scientific evidence of climate change and its catastrophic consequences, Ward takes a drastic step—breaking the law as an act of civil disobedience against the fossil fuel industry. This eye-opening documentary explores the moral and existential dilemmas Ward confronts as he risks it all, navigating his transition from a leader within environmental organizations to a frontline activist employing direct action as a last-resort tool to protect future generations from climate disasters.
This multi-award-winning film takes the viewer through America's fraught history with oil—from the industry’s lobbying and corruption to the country's military involvement in oil-rich regions. What sets "Fuel" apart is its focus on viable alternatives. The film takes us inside labs where algae biofuel is produced and talks to farmers who've converted their croplands to produce biofuel crops. It's a holistic look at the potential future of fuel, offering not just criticisms of our current systems but also practical solutions and alternatives.
This incisive film documents, with historical veracity and demonstrable data, the controversial case of the construction of a gas pipeline through the lands of hundreds of inhabitants of the small agricultural community of Rossport, in the west of Ireland.
This sequel to Al Gore's ground-breaking "An Inconvenient Truth" takes a look at how far we have come in the last decade in terms of renewable energy solutions and global policy. It highlights the advancements in wind and solar energy, dives into the economics of renewable fuels, and examines how new policies are shaping the future of global energy. The documentary does not shy away from showing the pushback from fossil fuel industries, making it a compelling, nuanced, and informative film.
A man against construction cranes in Taiwan. This documentary film depicts his third attempt to run in the City Council Election in 2014, including the difficulties and conflicts he encounters and the diverse imaginations toward progress. The film also tries to bring up an important question: do we need more buildings in our city, or we need to find a way to edify ourselves?
Narrated and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, "Before the Flood" is a sweeping look at the impact of climate change on our planet. While not solely focused on renewable energy, it dedicates significant time to discussing the shift needed from fossil fuels to renewable sources. Interviews with scientists, activists, and political leaders are interspersed with visuals of shrinking ice caps, flooding coasts, and renewable energy projects. DiCaprio himself visits several countries to look at the impacts of both climate change and the efforts to switch to renewable energy, making the film a personal journey as much as a global exploration.
The shift to sustainable energy is no longer a choice; it's a necessity. The documentaries and docuseries listed here are more than just a night's entertainment; they're a call to action. As Aldo Leopold once said, "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect." In the end, the power to change lies not just in sustainable fuels but in our willingness to engage, understand, and act. So, grab your remote, click on that documentary, and fuel your mind for the better world that lies ahead.
Watch more great documentaries on Guidedoc