Documentaries to Watch for Earth Day

A still from "Greenland Melting," one of the projects involving climate change listed below.

A still from "Greenland Melting," one of the projects involving climate change listed below.

April 21, 2023

Looking for a documentary to watch this Earth Day?

We’ve got you covered.

From the truth about plastic recycling, to the decades-long failure to confront the threat of climate change, explore more than 10 years of FRONTLINE’s reporting on environmental issues below. In addition to documentaries, you’ll find interactives, written stories and podcast episodes that examine what threatens the health of our planet as well as attempts to address these threats.

The Power of Big Oil (2022)

This three-part documentary series investigates the fossil fuel industry’s history of casting doubt and delaying action on climate change, tracing decades of missed opportunities and ongoing attempts to hold Big Oil to account.

Part One: Denial charts the fossil fuel industry’s early research on climate change, investigating industry efforts to sow seeds of doubt about the science:

Part Two: Doubt explores the industry’s efforts to stall climate policy, even as evidence about climate change grew more certain in the new millennium: 

Part Three: Delay follows the rise of natural gas; examines the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations’ actions on climate change; and explores what may happen next:

Miseducation: How Climate Change Is Taught in America (2021)

A book by former FRONTLINE investigative reporter Katie Worth on what kids in the U.S. learn about climate change in school — including the roles of oil corporations, state legislatures, school boards and lobbyists — published by Columbia Global Reports with support from FRONTLINE and The GroundTruth Project, and rooted in a series of stories by Worth.

Cover of the book "Miseducation: How Climate Change Is Taught in America," by Katie Worth, overlaid over the photo of an empty classroom
(Background photo: MChe Lee/Unsplash)

Poisoned (2021)

A Tampa Bay Times investigation, supported by FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative, revealing how a Florida lead smelter exposed hundreds of workers and the surrounding community to dangerous levels of the neurotoxin.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation found that workers at Gopher Resource in Tampa were exposed to extreme amounts of lead.
(Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times)

Groundwater War: New Mexico’s Toxic Threat (2021)

A New Mexico PBS investigation supported by FRONTLINE’s Local Journalism Initiative into PFAS — “forever” chemicals — contamination at military installations in the state and the impact on groundwater.


Plastic Wars (2020)

An investigation with NPR and the Investigative Reporting Workshop into how the big oil and petrochemical companies that make plastic publicly promoted recycling as a solution to the waste and pollution crisis, despite internal industry doubts from almost the beginning that widespread plastic recycling could ever be economically viable.

Fire in Paradise (2019)

A film on the 2018 Camp Fire, California’s deadliest-ever wildfire, that examines contributing factors, including climate change.

Coal’s Deadly Dust (2019)

An investigation with NPR into how the coal industry and the U.S. government failed to protect miners from severe black lung disease.

The Last Generation (2018)

With The GroundTruth Project, an interactive exploration of climate change as seen through the eyes of three children living in the Marshall Islands, a nation threatened by rising seas.


Greenland Melting 360° (2018)

A 360-degree documentary set amid Greenland’s melting glaciers, from FRONTLINE, NOVA, Emblematic Group, X-Rez Studio and Realtra.

War on the EPA (2017)

A documentary examining how the antiregulatory and anti-climate-change-science movements in America gained power.

Boom Town (2017)

An investigation from The FRONTLINE Dispatch podcast into earthquakes linked to the oil industry in an Oklahoma town known as “the pipeline crossroads of the world.”

Return to Chernobyl 360° (2017)

With NYU Journalism, an immersive, on-the-ground look at the site of the worst nuclear accident on record, 30 years later.

Hunt for the Inca Ruins 360° (2016)

The Mercury Crisis 360° (2016)

Two short, immersive documentaries about twin issues impacting the Peruvian Amazon: a fight over oil and gas exploration, and a boom in gold mining.

Exxon Researched Climate Change in 1977 (2015)

A short documentary about Exxon’s early research into climate change, produced in collaboration with InsideClimate News; FRONTLINE also published a series of related interviews on YouTube, conducted in collaboration with InsideClimate News.

Climate of Doubt (2012)

A look inside the organizations that fought the scientific establishment to shift the direction of the climate debate.

Alaska Gold (2012)

An examination of the battle over the proposed Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska, home to the last great wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world and to enormous mineral deposits estimated to be worth billions. (Read a 2023 update.)

Inside Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown (2012)

A documentary revealing how close the world came to a nuclear nightmare when a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering a crisis inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

Nuclear Aftershocks (2012)

A look at the implications of the Fukushima accident for U.S. nuclear safety — and for the future of nuclear energy around the world.

The Spill (2010)

An investigation with ProPublica into how the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico was preceded by countless safety violations, which many believe should have triggered action by federal regulators.

Poisoned Waters (2009)

How, more than two decades after the Clean Water Act, a threat to America’s waters came not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that found their way into sewers, storm drains and eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water.

Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Senior Digital Writer, FRONTLINE



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