By Brandon Engel: Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.5°F over the past century and is expected to continue rising, which is frightening for those of us who live here on planet Earth. With the threat of climate change due to constant human activity looming over our heads, it’s no wonder nature has started to fight back. Direct Energy recently reported 87 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans comes from the burning of fossil fuels, and such resources are quickly dwindling as a result of our overdependence.
But no matter if you’re an environmental activist or a political pundit, everyone can agree that the end of the world due to climate change makes for an intense, thought-provoking film — with these five movies giving audiences a taste of how our world could look if we don’t show Mother Earth the respect she deserves.
(1) Them! – Environmental scares didn’t start with fear of global warming though. In the 1950’s, America feared nuclear attacks from wartime enemies, causing the nation to imagine all sorts of radioactive mishaps just ready to take over the country. The 1954 horror movie Them! features giant, man-eating ants who got their power from New Mexico atomic testing gone awry. This blends all sorts of worldwide fears (space travel, alien life, nuclear testing) into one gigantic monster. Even though the film is cheesy by today’s standards, it shows how environmentally aware cinema got its start.
(2) Silent Running – The idea of botany blended with space is all the rage due to the hit sci-fi film The Martian, but it has its roots in the 1972 sci-fi thriller Silent Running. This film imagines a world in which flora and fauna is destroyed with the only remaining plant life existing in pods attached to a spaceship. The main character must face tough decisions regarding the value of human life versus the value of other life on earth, giving audiences a glimpse into a world where we must fight for the survival of the natural world we take for granted.
(3) C.H.U.D. – Some films don’t have to take place in a post-apocalyptic world to be frightening – they can take place right in the bustling city streets. The 1984 low-budget horror film C.H.U.D. might be known for its ick factor, but it actually has a lot to say about how we treat our environment. The heroes of the movie are the sort of everyman New York City individuals (a police officer, a journalist, and a homeless man) who take a stand when their world starts falling apart, showing that even a horror movie about sewer cannibals (yes, you read that correctly) can make an environmental statement.
(4) The Day After Tomorrow – One of the most well-known environmental films (and the one made two years before the groundbreaking documentary An Inconvenient Truth) is 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow. In this sci-fi thriller, the citizens of New York have to battle the icy effects of global warming and climate change head-on right in their city. Even though the science behind the film has been proven to be inaccurate, it is still startling to see what could happen to our urban world when the natural world takes over.
(5) Children of Men – In the case of 2006’s Children of Men, the threat of environmental hazards hits close to home when the world in 2027 is shown to make humans unable to reproduce as infertility threatens the future. The movie depicts one of the worst things that could happen to mankind – the very real threat of extinction. This movie shows that climate change affects all aspects of life on Earth, including the future of life itself.
These days, it is hard to focus on one current event without another tragedy needing our attention and resources. We claim to care about all aspects of our world’s well-being with little change in our habits – but keep in mind that if the planet doesn’t survive, neither will we. While world leaders and political influencers are meeting and putting in significant efforts to curb climate change, the largest impact resides with the everyman. Films like these can be effective in educating the world as a whole about natural and very real threats. Hopefully by projecting such imminent dangers on the big screen, we will soon be seeing more individuals doing their part to save the environment.