Our Fragile Planet: DVDs to the Rescue

May 2, 2016 | Bill V.

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It's Earth Month 2016 and the time has come to take seriously our impact on the planet. Toronto Public Library is happy to present the best of our collections on environmental education, geared to children, teens and adults. Watch for environmental displays in branches across the city and pick up some reading material. At the same time, please join us for Our Fragile Planet, our free environmental programming series. Learn about issues that impact our city, and what you can do to tread lightly on our planet.

Hot Docs is in town and it's got me thinking about environmental DVDs you can borrow from the Library.

Did you know there are over 8000 documentary, performance and "how to" DVDs on the 5th floor of the Toronto Reference Library and that you can borrow them?

During the month of April, the Library has been celebrating the Our Fragile Planet. Library branch displays are featuring books, magazines and DVDs on topics such as conservation, recycling, sustainable living, gardening and more. The goal is to get people thinking about the environment and what we can do to make a difference. 

We've blogged about the environmental magazines available at the Library, as well as eco and sustainable fashion. There is also a recommended reading list.

While we should be thinking about the environment throughout the year, Earth Day in April is a symbolic and timely way to remind us of our impact on the natural world. So, if you can tear yourself away from the improving weather outdoors, how about looking at some of these environmental DVDs?


Inconvenient Truth The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming DVD by Al Gore

Al Gore's pivotal work is titled An Inconvenient Truth a Global Warning. The Library also owns Not Evil Just Wrong The True Cost of Global Warning which is a critique of Gore and global warming calling it a "false doctrine". You may also like Greedy Lying Bastards.


The blue planet seas of life DVD narrated by David Attenborough

David Attenborough's Blue Planet Seas of Life series raises some important issues about our oceans.


The Cove - Oscar winner 2010 for best documentary.  Secret dophin hunting in Japan by director Louie Psihoyos.

The Cove is an excellent documentary on the secretive dolphin hunting industry in Japan.


The Last Mountain a West Virginia Appalachian documentary on local community versus giant coal company in a tussle over a local mountain.

The Last Mountain tells the story of a West Virginia Appalachian community versus a giant coal company in a fight over a local mountain.


Sand Wars The Incredible Investigation into one of the most Consumed Natural Resources on the Planet

Sand Wars is a surprising investigation into one of the most consumed natural resources on the planet. The planet's sand reserves are being threatened. One doesn't normally think of sand as a commodity. Alas, water is a resource that is most definitely a commodity and the documentary Tapped explores the bottled water industry. 


The sustainability secret  rethinking our diet to transform the world

Filled with anecdotes, statistics, research, interviews with the filmmakers and contributors, and unabridged transcripts from the film, Cowspiracy, this companion book supplements and expands upon the documentary in every way. With all this and more, The Sustainability Secret reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet and offers a path to global sustainability for a growing population.  And the classic Food, Inc. is not to be missed.

  Cowspiracy the sustainability secret -  "Feature-length environmental documentary, following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today and investigates why the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about itDVD    Food Inc.



Open Sesame The Story of Seeds DVD

Open Sesame: the Story of Seeds: "one of the world's most precious resources is at risk. This timely and emotionally moving film illuminates what is at stake and what can be done to protect the source of nearly all of our food: seeds. Seeds provide the basis for everything from fabric, to food to fuels. Seeds are as essential to life as the air we breathe or water we drink, but given far less attention. It's not too late, yet." You may also be interested in Growing Cities on community gardening, bee-keeping, urban farmers and other food activists and how they are changing our perception of food.


GMO OMG: "Director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? And perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can't gain back? These and other questions take Seifert on a journey from his family's table to Haiti, Paris, Norway and the lobby of agri-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way, we gain insight into a question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: what's on your plate? -- Film's website" 


Salt of the Earth  - Photographer Sebastiao Salgado embarks on the discovery of pristine territories and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project which is a tribute to the planet's beauty.

The Salt of the Earth = le sel de la terre: for the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history: international conflicts, starvation and exodus. You may also like the cinematography of Encounters at the end of the world Rencontres au bout du mond where filmmaker Werner Herzog examines life in Antarctica, focusing especially on the stories of the "professional dreamers" who reside there (mostly filmed from a helicopter).


Petropolis Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands

Petropolis aerial perspectives on the Alberta tar sands = Petropolis: perspectives aériennes sur les sables bitumineux d'Alberta:

"The Athabasca tar sands in Alberta are an oil reserve the size of England. Extracting crude oil that lies beneath the unspoiled wilderness requires a massive industrialized effort, effecting catastrophic damages on land, air, water, and climate. Peter Mettler shows us this extraordinary view from above, filming primarily from a helicopter to capture this breathtaking, unparalleled view of the world's largest industrial, capital and energy project. In a hypnotic flight of image and sound, Mettler explores the clash between industry and earth, and beholds the barren wasteland that is left behind". 

You may also be interested in Crude sacrifice you can't reclaim humanity, which "looks at how the northern community of Fort Chipewyan is affected by the exploitation of Canada's Tar Sands and how the federal and provincial governments are dealing with local concerns. Leading scientists and Aboriginal residents discuss the environmental and health issues surrounding the world's largest construction project; although this town sits near the earth's second largest fresh-water delta, people can no longer drink the water there or eat the fish and game that have sustained them for thousands of years. An important look at the state of our democracy."


Drying for Freedom

For something a bit quirkier, why not try Drying for Freedom on the use of electric dryers and their environmental impact? And for something more serious, why not sample what we have on fracking?

  FrackNation DVD Journalist Phelim McAleer faces gun threats, mailcious 911 calls and bogus lawsuits when questinging green extremists for the truth about hydraulic fracturing. Made in response to the anti-fracking film Gasland.  Gasland DVD Can you Light your Water on Fire

Nominated for a best documentary Academy Award in 2012, If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front tells the story of the radical environmental group the FBI calls America's "number one domestic terrorist threat".

If A Tree Falls A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front

And lastly, consider this older title that takes a different (broader?) look at the world's environmental and economic interrelationships with an examination of fish coming from Africa to Europe and weapons going back to Africa in Darwin's Nightmare.

    Darwin’s Nightmare Documentary film that exposes the poverty and misery of the people living on the shores on Lake Victoria in Tanzania who are dependent upon fishing the Nile perch from the lake for their meager earnings. The fish are exported by air to Europe to be sold cheaply and the planes that arrive to transport the fish at first seem to arrive empty, but turn out to carry weapons to Africa and fish away.