Climate Crisis: From the Mouth of Babes and Nonagenarians


Image from Madman Entertainment

It’s Greta Thunberg’s 18th birthday, and watching the documentary I am Greta is an excellent way to deepen your understanding of the young climate activist’s commitment to the fate of our planet. The Swedish teen stopped eating at 11 because the futility of the climate reality depressed her; once diagnosed with Aspberger’s Syndrome, her feelings turned into her “superpower” and she began her school strikes at age 15. In just a few years, she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice and her voice is recognized around the world. The documentary chronicles her path from early days, to heady moments in front of European parliaments and includes her trip across the ocean – on a boat because she will not fly because of the carbon footprint of air travel.  What I gleaned from the film is a powerful behind-the-scenes glimpse of the burden she has put on her young shoulders. She can’t ever NOT represent this position. Given the breadth of climate denial and slow speed of change, her frustration with the rest of the world’s inability to care as much as she does is powerful stuff.

Here is Common Sense’s review of I Am Greta. The film is appropriate for 10 and up, and is a “Common Sense Selection” – a designation that recognizes outstanding media with an official seal for quality and impact. The film is streaming on Hulu.

Pair Greta’s youthful plea with another tale of climate urgency from a man in his 90s. Sir David Attenborough is a legendary British naturalist and documentarian whose A Life on Our Planet: Ruin and ReGrowth  chronicles a most remarkable life. For over sixty years, he and camera crews have hopscotched around to the globe’s most fascinating and beautiful corners, producing remarkable stories of diversity and beauty. At 93, he speaks directly to viewers about a life spent witnessing our planet’s population grow and our wild spaces diminish. It’s not a pretty picture. With charts chronicling the changes paired against historical imagery and the type of soaring nature photography that we have come to know from his life’s film work, this stirring witness to the change is sobering and important. Attenborough manages to ends on a hopeful note, with footage of vertical farms and fisheries that can produce copious food – he urges us to “re-wild” the world.

Here is Common Sense’s review, which also suggests the appropriate age is 10 and up. The film is also a Common Sense Selection. The film is streaming on Netflix.