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Oct 14 2017
by Laura Mackenzie

10 Netflix Shows and Movies to Watch if You're Majoring in Environmental Science

By Laura Mackenzie - Oct 14 2017
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I'm a huge bona-fide nerd, saying it loud and proud. I'm also a Netflix addict and an overachiever. Because of my vast intellectual interests and passions, I am pursuing a double major path: environmental science and marine science. So as the school year is starting, I've decided to combine a few of my addictions and passions to bring this list of enlightening, educational and intriguing Netflix gems to your lists (as if you weren't watching enough Netflix already). 

I know the environment has been a hot topic of conversation and debate with a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation spreading. Hopefully these will help you draw your own conclusions and spark your curiosity to learn more and do more. Enjoy and happy watching! 

1. The Great Invisible

IMDB

The Great Invisible is a documentary about the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the explosion that caused the worst oil spill to date and I wish that was an exaggeration. This documentary includes interviews with executives, survivors and residents of the Gulf Coast who all share their first-hand accounts and perceptions of the disaster and its residual effects. It hasn't been that many years since the oil spill but it and the lessons it taught us are already being forgotten, becoming invisible to human and corporate memory. 

2. Minimalism 

 IMDB

While this documentary does not delve into environmental issues outright, it does dive into the issues between humanity's consumption and compulsory consumption. A large majority of our environmental issues could be drastically decreased if we as a nation, a world and as a people learned to live minimally or how to apply minimalist practices to lessen our impact. As we decrease our materials we define our lives with, we decrease our impact and the clutter congesting our lives, giving us and our world a chance to breathe again. 

3. Catching The Sun 

IMDB

Coal vs. renewables. Renewables vs. coal. Solar or wind energy. Decisions, decisions. There has been a lot of debate regarding where our energy should come from but the scientific community and a large population of the world agrees that our world's oil wells and supplies will not last very much longer at our current rate of consumption, thus spurring companies, countries and people to look for other solutions. "Catching the Sun" provides a new perspective and glance at the entrepreneurs working at the forefront of the clean energy movement. Most view this movement as an answer to pollution but this documentary also highlights the economic and human impact in regards to income inequality and climate change. It has been well received world-wide and is truly an eye opener. 

4. Food, Inc. 

Amazon 

Yes, the way we eat has changed. As it has changed, its impact on our bodies and world has changed as well, and not for the better. This movie, like Minimalism, is not about environmental issues but it does show how we can change our lifestyles and choices to become more environmentally friendly and minded. Not to mention it's a well directed and formulated eye opener. Everything is interconnected; if there is anything you learn when studying the environment and marine sciences it's that everything on this planet is tied together and has a larger impact. This film has changed the way millions of American eat, including myself. Maybe you should find out why.

5. How To Change The World 

IMDB 

They're kinda infamous: If you're even remotely interested in the environment or activism, you've probably heard of Greenpeace. There has been a lot of controversy regarding this organization and the modern green movement and this film really helped clear the air for me. This documentary uses never before seen archive footage to tell the history of Greenpeace and the modern green movement. It's as inspiring as it is enlightening and it really put the history of a defined era into perspective. 

Interdisciplinary: 

When it comes to the environment, almost everything is interconnected. Nevertheless, these stood out and need to be shared as well. 

1. The Future of Water 

 Netflix 

This is a video essay presented as if it were a documentary, separated into episodes. This miniseries takes a look into the deeply intertwined history of humanity and how that history revolves around freshwater. It's intellectually stirring and enlightening, and who knows, maybe you'll want to be an engineer pioneering the future of freshwater. 

2. Watermark 

National Geographic 

If you haven't gathered this by now, water is kinda important. You know just a little bit. It's arguably one of the strongest elements, if not the strongest. It's the force that sustains all life and this documentary weaves stories from around the globe to paint a picture of humanity's timeless relationship to water. While the previous recommendation discusses the future of water and the challenges we face, this documentary talks about our past and the challenges of today. 

3. The 11th Hour*

Netflix

While this documentary may seem ominous and hopeless, I'm here to say that while the situation is dire, it's not hopeless. This documentary turned ten this year and is another one of Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental love children. This film explores the state of our planet and how we've arrived at this point – the way we live, our impact on the ecosystems and habitats around us and what we can do to change course. 

4. Years of Living Dangerously*

National Geographic 

This show is a beloved favorite of mine. A still ongoing project (with the help of National Geographic) that lives under the social media moniker #YEARSPROJECT. This series brings celebrity environmental correspondents to learn about the issues and challenges people around the globe face, actually living it with them, as they survive the backlash of environmental calamity. 

5. A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle For a Living Planet* 

Amazon 

"This is not how we have to live," that is a mantra that carries the heart of the environmental movement. Each of this film's five acts contain a central story and character. This documentary shows the history of environmentalism itself, from the '60s to now, and the varying influences that encouraged people to become activists and protest. This is not how we have to live. 

If there is a message to take from these recommendations, it's that we don't have to live this way. Each of these documentaries, films and shows highlight a problem or issue that can be bettered or rectified. Our planet isn't a lost cause, humanity isn't a lost cause. We are at the precipice of change and there is so much we are doing, but so much more we can do. When we are faced with hardships, we have a choice: let it tear us down or face it head on and become stronger for it. 

Let's be the planet that decides to become more efficient and stronger for our challenges and issues. 

*films not available for streaming, but available on DVD

Lead Image Credit: Pexels


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Laura Mackenzie - University of California, Berkeley

Laura is attending the University of California Berkeley for her Undergraduate Studies where she will be getting a double major in Environmental Sciences and Marine Sciences, possibly attaining a minor in Earth System Science as well (just because she loves herself that much). In high school she took community college classes in tandem with her high school curriculum. She was a competitive dancer until her sophomore year, was a member of the honors society, was the co-founder of the QSA, was the first President of their Community Service Club (composed of both Rotary and Key Clubs), and a member of ASB and the school's dance team. She loves napping, Netflix binges, writing, cosplaying, and anything that revolves around anime or comic books. She has mastered the art of procrastination and overachieving, and is down for any adventure (preferably in Middle Earth).

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