Media for Change, Part 1: TV Series Encouraging Environmental Awareness - Pager Power
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Media for Change, Part 1: TV Series Encouraging Environmental Awareness

Media for Change, Part 1: TV Series Encouraging Environmental Awareness
April 12, 2024 Ayda Yates

Media for Change is a series of articles that will explore mass media that encourages environmental discourse and positive action.

Environmental degradation and the climate crisis are major global issues that have an impact on societies, economies, and ecosystems worldwide. Television series have developed into effective forums for examining, comprehending, and addressing these important issues as public knowledge of them grows. With its wide audience and varied narrative skills, television has the power to influence attitudes, motivate action, and promote change [1]. TV and streaming sites can reach those who are less inclined to watch, listen or read the news and offers a different route to inform the uninformed. This article concentrates on noteworthy TV shows that offer distinctive viewpoints, narratives, and insights around environmental stewardship and climate change.

A deeper awareness of environmental issues has been pushed by the documentaries of renowned filmmakers like Simon Reeves, Chris Packham, and, most notably, David Attenborough, who has captivated viewers with a variety of documentaries like Blue Planet, Planet Earth, and Life on Earth. Mass media, particularly documentary series, has become increasingly recognised as a powerful instrument for influencing public discourse on societal issues [1]. Studies have indicated that documentaries have the ability to influence public opinion and create awareness about important topics like Plastic Pollution, Environmental Activism, Air Pollution and more [2]. An investigation of the effects of The Blue Planet, a BBC environmental documentary series starring David Attenborough, revealed, for example, that the show considerably raised media attention to, and political discussions about, plastic pollution in the UK [2]. 

media for change

Figure 1:  Media streaming channels. [3]

“Down to Earth with Zac Efron” on Netflix

“Down to Earth with Zac Efron” is an engaging travel and documentary series available on Netflix. Hosted by actor Zac Efron and wellness expert Darin Olien, the show takes viewers on a global journey to explore sustainable and efficient resource management practices across different countries [4]. Through a combination of educational insights and entertaining content, the series highlights the importance of sustainable living, resource conservation, and cultural awareness. 

Zac and Darin’s contrasting perspectives – one spiritual and the other adventurous – add depth and variety to the show, encouraging viewers to reevaluate their relationship with the Earth and appreciate its natural resources. The show stands out by going beyond typical travel or food destination shows, aiming to raise awareness and inspire positive change. With its engaging hosts, diverse locations, and ambitious mission, the series challenges viewers to challenge their assumptions and embrace more sustainable lifestyles. 

“Extrapolations” on Apple TV

The anthology drama series “Extrapolations” on Apple TV provides eight interconnected stories set in dystopian futures based on rising global temperatures, each offering a unique perspective on climate change [5]. Featuring a star-studded cast, including Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Kit Harington, Daveed Diggs, and Tahar Rahim, the series presents thought-provoking narratives that delve into various aspects of climate change and its effects on people’s lives, as well as the ecological, cultural, and economic ramifications of climate change.

Unlike other shows, “Extrapolations” does not offer easy answers to the complex challenges posed by climate change. Instead, it prompts viewers to reflect on the choices they make and the broader implications of their actions on the planet. Through its compelling storytelling and visuals, “Extrapolations” encourages critical thinking and fosters a deeper understanding of the urgent environmental issues we face.

media for change

Figure 2: Farmers harvesting. [6]

“Clarkson’s Farm” on Prime

“Clarkson’s Farm” follows Jeremy Clarkson as he navigates the challenges of managing a 1,000-acre farm in the Cotswolds, England [7]. This documentary series captures Clarkson’s transformation from an environmental sceptic who once admitted to having “a disregard for the environment” and previously called campaigner Greta Thunberg a ‘spoilt brat’, to a farmer embracing sustainable practices like improving soil health and reducing synthetic fertilisers. 

Against a backdrop of financial uncertainty due to changes in farming subsidies and rising costs, “Clarkson’s Farm” highlights the pressures facing farmers and rural businesses. Clarkson, through satirical scenes amongst serious topics, explores ways to generate income that are both profitable and environmentally friendly, from government grants to market-driven environmental initiatives. Despite its comedic moments, the series offers insightful perspectives on the complexities of modern farming and prompts viewers to reconsider their attitudes towards sustainability and agriculture. 

Television for an Eco-Conscious Future

Television series have the power to shape our views, beliefs, and choices, making them valuable tools in the fight against environmental degradation and climate change. Through compelling storytelling, diverse perspectives, and engaging narratives, docuseries and environmentally themed dramas offer unique opportunities to raise awareness, inspire action, and foster a deeper understanding of the environmental challenges we face.

Viewers can utilise the power of television to broaden perspectives, encourage meaningful discussion, and promote positive change. By supporting and engaging with environmentally conscious television, individuals can contribute to promoting a more sustainable and eco-conscious future for the planet.

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[1] Kristina Londakova & Alice Farrell, “How can we use TV to inspire viewers to decarbonise their lifestyles?”, The Behavioural Insights Team, 2021, 12th April 2024.

[2] Jennifer Males & Peter Van Aelst, “Did the Blue Planet set the Agenda for Plastic Pollution? An Explorative Study on the Influence of a Documentary on the Public, Media and Political Agendas”, Environmental Communication, Volume 15 Issue 1, 2020, Accessed: 12th April 2024.

[3] Oscar Nord, Image of “A flat screen TV sitting on top of a white cabinate”, 2022, 12th April 2024.

[4] “Down to Earth with Zac Efron”, Netflix, 2020, 12th April 2024.

[5] “Extrapolations”, Apple TV, 2023, 12th April 2024.

[6] Wolfgang Weiser, Image of “Harvester Passing Crops into Trailer”, 2019, Accessed: 12th April 2024. 

[7] “Clarkson’s Farm”, Prime Video, 2021, Accessed: 12th April 2024.


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