Video - Films
Environmental Pollution, Exotic Species and Human
Population GrowthNote: The title is followed by the length, producer, distributor (if different from producer), and year film was made. Unless otherwise noted, the videos listed below are VHS format. Many are available in Beta, 16mm and other formats. Some are on laser disks.
+ Indicates video sold or rented with teacher’s instruction guide.
"Acid Rain. Clouds with a Sulphur Lining." 60 minutes. Nature of Things. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1986.
The insidious effects of acid rain, formed when sulphur, nitrogen and other effluents are released into the air, destroy entire ecosystems. Thousands of lakes and other bodies of water become so acidic that they no longer support fish, crayfish and a wide variety of aquatic life. Interviews with scientists and the methods scientists use to analyze the data would be useful to students. Views of the effects on buildings are seen, as well as on forests where, in the extreme, it kills trees. Entire forests in Europe have died, and it has become clear that this is a global problem. One country's emissions are blown by the winds to poison the environment of another country. Since this film was made, there have been some improvements in air pollution control.
“Affluenza” and “Escape from Affluenza.” 60 minutes each. KCTS-Seattle & Oregon Public Broadcasting. Bullfrog Films. 2000.
America’s materialism affects the world’s environment, destroying forests and other environments. Solutions to the out-of-control consumerism are offered in “Escape from Affluenza.” Many personal stories are told of individuals who choose to buy less material goods and adopt a simpler lifestyle in place of high-paying jobs in business and industry. Solutions as basic as sharing lawnmowers and other expensive possessions and using one’s car less in favor of local bicycle trips are offered.
"Alaska: Outrage at Valdez." 60 minutes. Jacques Cousteau. Video Finders. 1990; "Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster." 90 minutes. HBO/BBC. 1992;
"Restoring Alaska. Exxon Valdez 10 Years Later." 60 minutes. PBS. 1999.
The first film describes the tragic 1989 oil spill at Prince William Sound, Alaska. It was filmed soon afterward and documents the enormous wildlife losses. This oil spill was the largest in United States history and caused massive destruction of this once pristine and beautiful ecosystem.
The second film is a docu-drama, attempting to recreate the oil spill. It dwells mainly on the personalities and politics that brought about the spill and slowed its clean-up. Some footage and narrative address the effects on wildlife. "Restoring Alaska. Exxon Valdez 10 Years Later" revisits Prince William Sound to find out whether nature has recovered after a decade. Oil still remains under the surface of the sand, and only two wildlife species have recovered--the River Otter and the Bald Eagle. Other wildlife, including the beautiful Harlequin Ducks, sea birds, Sea Otters and Killer Whales, remains rare to absent and the ecosystem as a whole has been so disrupted that fisheries are now almost gone, changing people's lives radically.
“Cultivating Opportunity. Self-Help Solutions to Poverty in the U.S. and Africa.” 28 minutes. Oxfam America. Bullfrog Films. 1997.
Small-scale farmers in Mozambique and the southeastern United States form cooperatives to protect themselves against corporations taking over their land.
"The Human Tide" 60 minutes. Nature of Things. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1991.
The most important threat to ecosystems and species is the human population problem. An estimated 50 to 100 extinctions occur daily, and thousands more species become endangered, almost all from loss of habitat. Deforestation is a major cause, with both commercial logging companies and the world's rural people cutting trees. When this film was made, the world's population totaled 5.4 billion, an increase from 3.5 billion in 1968. In 2000, it topped 6 billion. Each year, 95 million people are born--equal to the entire populations of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Poland. The world's population doubles every 30 years. Two‑thirds of the women in the developing world do not have access to birth control devices. Only 1 percent of foreign aid is now spent on family planning. The role of international funds, such as the World Bank, is also discussed. The massive projects they fund, such as dams and wetland drainage for agriculture, have been environmentally destructive and harmful to local populations, while only enriching large corporations. Countries have been saddled with massive debts from these projects and must turn to cash crops to repay them, replacing small‑scale sustainable economies that are less harmful to the environment. Other facets of human population growth are discussed, and the film concludes that if the Western World doesn't take a strong lead in helping stop human population growth, there will be catastrophic effects on the entire world as the natural world retreats and population growth exceeds agricultural output.
"The Invaders." 60 minutes. Nature of Things. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1994.
The emphasis of this film about the ecological perils of exotic species is on North America, with Canada the focus. The film shows the damage being done by purple loosestrife, an exotic plant that is taking over marshland, meadowland and other habitats, displacing plants that provide vital food and shelter to a wide variety of birds, mammals and other species. It may, without strong action to eliminate it, destroy millions of acres of marshes in North America and result in huge numbers of endangered and extinct species. Chemical warfare has not proved effective and is environmentally destructive. The biological controls being used, such as beetles from its native Europe to prey on it, may or may not be successful. Other ecological disasters, such as Zebra Mussels and Sea Lampreys in the Great Lakes, stocked game fish, European Starlings, and pest insects, are highlighted along with the methods, if any, used to control them and their possible side-effects.
"Jet Set Wildlife." 60 minutes. Nature. WNET/BBC. 1984.
Florida is an international center for importation of wild animals of all types--from primates to cage birds to reptiles and fish--mainly for the pet and laboratory trades. Escapees and released pets have colonized most of South Florida. Cane toads have become a pest species, and piranhas are now found in many waterways. Parrots of many species compete with native birds for food and habitat. Florida presents an extreme example of the effects of exotic species introduction, but the same principles rule that have caused the extinction of hundreds of island bird species.
"The Mirage of the Sea." 60 minutes. Jacques Cousteau. Video Finders. 1993.
Over the centuries, humans have regarded the oceans as an infinite source of fish and resources, and able to absorb unlimited amounts of pollution. Now, as Jacques Cousteau points out, we are discovering that these beliefs were false. The sea influences all life on the planet, affecting the climate on land and the Earth's ecology (Rachel Carson's book, The Sea Around Us, is an invaluable guide to these principles; see Books section). Cousteau points out that statistically, fishery harvests have peaked as a result of factory ships and are now declining as a result of overfishing. Pollution from toxic chemicals and oil is now found in even remote areas. The urgency of protecting the sea and its resources is the theme, and this program is well‑written and filmed.
“Natural Connections.” 60 minutes. Howard Rosen. PBS. 2000.
The causes for the failure of the United States and other developed countries to protect nature are the focus of this excellent and fascinating film. It links extravagant and unthinking lifestyles with the loss of biodiversity and proposes changes that will have direct effects in terms of preserving species.
+ "Pollution: World at Risk." 25 minutes. National Geographic Society: Educational Services. 1989. Grades 10-12/Adult.
This film demonstrats how pollution of various types--from acid rain's effect on trees to chemicals that deplete the ozone--threatens the earth, with solutions and actions being taken. Winner of Silver Apple Award, National Educational Film and Video Festival.
Note: For the effects of pesticides on wildlife, see Birds section, "Messages from the Birds."
“Super-Companies.” 60 minutes. National Film Board of Canada. Bullfrog Films. 1989.
This film concerns the operations of multinational corporations. With the aluminum industry as a case study, it illustrates how raw materials are extracted, processed and sold, often in ways that are at odds with the needs of the people.
“State of the Planet.” Three hours. BBC Bristol. Discovery Communications. 2000.
The central theme of these films is the biodiversity crisis. They examine the rise in the number of extinctions and endangered species and discuss the causes, such as “islandization” or isolation of habitat surrounded by development. Hawaii leads the world in numbers of extinct and endangered species. Its beautiful natural heritage is being destroyed by exotic species and the disappearance of native forests. The final hour of this film series, “The Future of Life,” makes clear that if we do not act soon, great natural treasures will be lost.