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4 Movies on Climate Change: Melting Ice Caps & Sea Level Rise

The Day After Tomorrow (Photo: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection)

The Day After Tomorrow (Photo: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection)

A movie plot on climate change issue is rare to find in films until now. At least, there is a good amount of them for us to see and discuss with the world’s real problems. There are many movies related to the environmental catastrophe whether it is global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, eco-terrorists, dystopian futures, ecological collapse, and climate change in general.

Documentaries are far better in giving a real insight into the issue than feature films that tend to entertain. Some movies with the genre “cli-fi” or climate fiction are good, some are bad, some make the issue as a background story or it could work as allegories for an environmental catastrophe. Still, mostly they are very dramatic and halfway realistic as opposed to real-world events and scenarios.

Below are some of the movies on climate change, especially movies that use the melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels issue as its plot or even if it’s just a small background or side story to the whole movie. This list is sorted by date and only includes feature films and not documentaries and animation. May contain spoilers!

1. Waterworld (1995)

Rating: PG-13 | Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | Runtime: 2h 15min | Country: USA
Ratings: 6.2 (IMDb) | 45% (Tomatometer), 43% (Audience Score) | 56 (Metascore)
Awards: Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations | See more awards

Plot summary: “In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw “smokers,” and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.” —

Directed by: Kevin Reynolds | Cast: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper | See full cast & crew

What it has to do with climate change: It is a post-apocalyptic action film. It tells about human civilization long in the distant future after the complete melt of the polar ice caps. The sea level has risen over 25,000 feet (7,600 m) and humans now live on atolls, a ramshackle floating communities. The film focused on the search for dry land by a group of survivors.

Watch on: Apple TV | Google Play | Prime Video | Hulu | Vudu | View: Parents Guide

2. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Rating: PG-13 | Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | Runtime: 2h 4min | Country: USA
Ratings: 6.4 (IMDb) | 44% (Tomatometer), 50% (Audience Score) | 47 (Metascore)
Awards: Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 5 wins & 12 nominations | See more awards

Plot summary: “Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek from Washington, D.C. to New York City to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.” —rball4042

Directed by: Roland Emmerich | Cast: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum | See full cast & crew

What it has to do with climate change: It is a science fiction disaster film based on the book The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber. It tells about the catastrophic climatic effects in a series of extreme weather events that induce global cooling and lead to a new ice age. Across the world, the weather worsens. A giant hail storm, tornado outbreak, and rising sea levels happen in many cities. It also about how the government failed to act accordingly based on the finding by the scientists.

Watch on: HBO GO | Apple TV | Google Play | Prime Video | Vudu | View: Parents Guide

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Rating: PG-13 | Genres: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy | Runtime: 1h 33min | Country: USA
Ratings: 7.3 (IMDb) | 87% (Tomatometer), 76% (Audience Score) | 86 (Metascore)
Awards: Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 93 wins & 123 nominations | See more awards

Plot summary: “Faced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.” —Brian McInnis

Directed by: Benh Zeitlin | Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly | See full cast & crew

What it has to do with climate change: It tells about the frozen prehistoric aurochs inside an ice shelf in the Arctic that could melt and drift into the ocean. There is also about how the Bathtub, a community in the Louisiana bayou, confronts an approaching storm and rebuilding their community after that. The storm damaging their environment by contaminating the freshwater supply because of the surge in saltwater by the storm. And they must work together as a community to find a plan to drain the water away. There is also about authorities evacuation order and emergency shelter for the Bathtub residents.

Watch on: Apple TV | Google Play | Prime Video | Fandango Now | Vudu | View: Parents Guide

4. Snowpiercer (2013)

Rating: R | Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi | Runtime: 2h 6min | Country: South Korea, Czech Republic
Ratings: 7.1 (IMDb) | 95% (Tomatometer), 72% (Audience Score) | 84 (Metascore)
Awards: Nominated for 1 Critics Choice Award. Another 33 wins & 102 nominations | See more awards

Plot summary: “In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges.” —Peter Mouland

Directed by: Bong Joon Ho | Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton | See full cast & crew

What it has to do with climate change: It tells about an attempt at climate engineering to stop the Earth’s global warming which backfires. Creating a new Snowball Earth, another ice age and extinguish all life forms. The last survivors of humanity were on the Snowpiercer train moving in a globe-spanning track. It also about class hierarchy and class conflict between the privileged passengers at the front and the tail end residents who exploited as labor.

Watch on: Netflix | Apple TV | Google Play | Prime Video | Vudu | View: Parents Guide

• Best Similar. “Climate Change Movies and TV Shows.
• Hoad, P. 2017. “Spoiler Alerts: The Five Best Climate-Change Films.” The Guardian. January 19.
• McKinnon, M. 2015. “The 8 Best Movies About Apocalyptic Climate Change.” Gizmodo. December 10.
• Skymet Weather. “10 Amazing Hollywood Movies on Climate Change.”
• The Climate Reality Project. 2018. “6 Must-see Movies About Climate Change. June 1.


Published by Lifenvi

Live life in a livable environment.

48 thoughts on “4 Movies on Climate Change: Melting Ice Caps & Sea Level Rise

    1. Yes, you’re right! But to act, first we must know why we should act, how we’ll do it, or when we must do it. In other words, we need words too. To be read and learnt. What we don’t need no further is promises

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s kinda scary but I think the environment is simply incompatible with capitalism, ultimately it is a choice, one or the other. And in the meantime, and the capitalists are too interested in making money to do anything to slow things down. You’ll notice that subsidies for coal, even now, are at their highest levels ever. It is a very depressing subject.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not yet advanced enough to discuss the perspective on politics and economic system in relation to the climate crisis, but I personally agree with you. Eco-capitalism, the economic view of green capitalism is better than classic capitalism, but its basic principles still the same. Market competition will always constantly threaten businesses to cut cost and optimize profit.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No it is a big think, but that’s where I get to when I wonder how this will all end. I don’t see the petro-chems changing any time soon, in fact I see them suppressing potential solutions if they think their profits might be threatened.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, that’s what I think too. We need a massively-systemic, fully-committed, and global-scale changes not only in the non-renewable energy areas but everywhere. And it seems very unlikely. Humans will be humans. Conflict of interest always exist.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Le système économique et social est ainsi construit, ce sont des sommes de choix liés à nos modes de vie et de consommations organisés autour de la commercialisation du vivant. C’est très bien orga

      Liked by 2 people

      1. mais il en va de même également de ceux qui ont décidé que l’éducation doit être confiée aux marchands d’armes de guerre, que les découvertes médicales qui peuvent empêcher de souffrir doivent être des marques déposées pour profiter à l’industrie. Les même modifient génétiquement les plantes pour rendre stériles les graines qui obligent à payer pour se nourrir et obligent à acheter dans la grande distribution. Les mêmes qui polluent la planète et nuisent à la santé des humains qui fabriquent des méduicaments quisoiignent les maladies qu’ils répandent au plus grand nombre. Les mêmes qui veulent nous faire payer pour respirer l’ait de la planète, déjà qu’ils nous font payer pour boire l’eau qui tombe du ciel!!!!!

        Liked by 2 people

    3. The economic and social system in which we live is thus organized. We participate individually and collectively in its organization. Everything is organized from the fact of trading in everything that is alive. It is very well organized so that nothing changes. Those who profit from the wealth produced by employees know exactly that the planet is definitely destroyed. They have early implemented for this, since the first organizations of the economic system …: property, the fact of owning.
      Le système économique et social dans lequel nous vivons est ainsi organisé. Nous participons individuellement et collectivement à son organisation. Tout est organisé à partir du fait de faire commerce de tout ce qui est vivant. C’est très bien organisé pour que rien ne change. Ceux qui font profit de la richesse produite par les employés savent exactement que la planète est définitivement détruite. Ils ont tot mis en oeuvre pour cela, depuis les premières organisations du système économique…: la propriété, le fait de posséder.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, at least what we could do is to make other people and living things who affected the most by the ongoing system suffer less. Even if we do know somethings couldn’t last forever, it shouldn’t makes us living pessimistically. Merci d’avoir partagé votre avis!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What a great idea to round up movies on this theme. The only one I’ve seen so far is ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, which was horrifyingly realistic. I also liked the idea at the end that the USA needed help from Mexico. Indeed, climate change could well be a total geopolitical game changer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, thank you! I’ve listed other sites that doing the same in the references. And yes indeed, all developed and developing countries must work together. After all, we always live in the same planet

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tem um documentário muito bom que fala sobre o encanto da floresta. Não é sobre o clima propriamente dito. É uma ideia de mostrar pelo lado do encanto: ver uma floresta nascer diante dos nossos olhos. No Brasil o nome é Aconteceu Na Floresta, II Etait Une Forêt, dirigido por Luc Jacquet, 2012, França ou Bélgica.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Waterworld was a big disappointment. He had great chances that were wasted and the environmental message didn’t hit me. The Day After Tomorrow instead, despite the various flaws, he managed to get that message through and he even managed to get interested. Beasts of the Southern Wild and Snowpiercer instead are two wonderful films that not only manage to get the message across but are also works with perfect direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for finding and following my blog.
    It’s a shame that despite the efforts of a great many people to be conscientious in in their choices and efforts to recycle and reduce the waste they produce, that local and global economies and policy makers stand in the way while giving lip service to the concerns of those people. They seem to be able to find ways to shift the burden (through taxes, fees & deposits[= taxes] and shaming) to the consumers who have little choice and almost no power to effect change. All the while, they don’t demand that packaging or single use items be reduced at their manufacturing source, or made of materials that will degrade quickly after use. None of this can happen overnight without causing unacceptable disruptions in society or the economy but the ball could start rolling. The past is the past, the focus needs to be on future improvements, not finger pointing and ruinous penalties for formerly government endorsed practices.(Like the lawmakers would ever take on blame themselves!)There is no one size fits all solution, but there are a lot of smaller, achievable goals that will make an immediate difference.

    Didn’t mean to rant, I should have used it in a blog post. I’ll look for Beasts of the Southern Wild, I’ve seen the others.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I agree with you. But consumers do have a big choice and great power to affect changes though. Only a few people just stop buying bottled water of course couldn’t disrupt the market. But if this few people also tell their friends and family about why they do it and why others should join the cause, it could go on an on affecting other people and then affecting the market starting from the local to global market of bottled water. What we want right now isn’t the complete eradication of bottled water production, because it’s very unlikely and will affect people and services who actually need it the most. What we need is for it to be more sustainable, less environmental stress, and less simplicity-based. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sí, events like cities or small island nations flooding already happening and its severity and impact are increased by climate change factor, just not as massive and globally-scaled as in movies. And from the look of it, we are still heading that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. wild birds, going down in numbers, size of birds getting smaller, you can imagine the affect this is having on Mother Nature, we might value human life in an extra ordinary way, but if we are the cause of the fall from grace, which many might call the descent, it’s time we came up with real life giving solutions. Personally i encountered Heavens Spirit, yes it’s real, so imagine that, God lives, not just, but always.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have an idea for lowering the sea level, climate change, and it being key to two of one’s dreams, mine in this case, the longest, roughest waterfall in the world. Man-made may I remind… And a coastal community along the waterfall. As well as a national park along the waterfall. Where people could live, eat, go outside and enjoy the sight of the waterfall. A long view of both ends. But I don’t have any social skills in making any of dozens of ideas I have, this idea being my only movie idea, a reality. So my potential has always been at a dead stop with no way in the universe for me to overcome that challenge. And no potential amount of money I could make with 1 idea alone, is enough for anyone so far to help me. Everyone wants to see one of their own bringing home a million dollars a year. But if the person needs help make the idea become reality, no amount of money has been enough to satisfy anyone into helping me. Even though living expenses are so frustrating and people complain in frustration, and want to make a difference if they could, this major opportunity is a major exception. Ambition is a strange thing when it comes to big money, everyone wants it, everyone wants a way, everyone is looking for a way, living expenses are such a problem and desperation is always on the rise. And one finds a way and needs help and nobody will help, despite their desperation for money. Like as if helping were impossible. Or as if achievement by team work were impossible. Even after 20 years, everyone is just waiting for an opportunity. And for the same past 20 years, everyone is ignoring an opportunity they can take, but just won’t. And the waiting and desperation persists with no end or progress. A life of opportunity with no hope because of disability and nobody to help, other than help looking for opportunities. Just not this one. And because of that, no go.


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