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Air Pollution From Smoke Stacks

We’re heading into summer, and as usual cinemas are filling with epic disasters, unnatural calamities, and superheroes battling evil. But I’m not talking about Michael Bay epics or guys in goofy iron suits. I mean the season’s real must-see movies: the sudden slew of terrific new environmental documentaries arriving on the scene.

In an age where state-of-the-art cameras fit in a pocket and software puts a Hollywood editing bay on your laptop, it’s no surprise we’re in a golden age of independent filmmaking. Case in point is the recent appearance of a wealth of new eco-documentaries. Here are six to seek:

Stink follows a father’s quest to find out why his daughters’ new clothes smell so odd and quickly becomes a journey into the dark heart of America’s chemical-industrial complex. This real-life thriller explains how and why all too many consumer products are accused of crimes and comes complete with all the requisite blockbuster ingredients from bad-guy politicians to heroic common folk trying to save us all.

Want a good double-feature? Pair Stink with Merchants of Doubt, a revealing look at all those so-called media science “experts” who aren’t experts at all but are simply propaganda puppets hired by their corporate overlords in the chemical, energy, tobacco, pharmaceutical and other industries. Their only job? To spread misinformation and misunderstanding that maintain the toxic status quo. Watch this and you’ll never watch another TV talking head the same way again.

Endocrination uncovers the ugly naked truth behind an issue familiar to anyone who’s read this blog—the growing threat from chemicals that disrupt the human endocrine system. With crazy graphics and more than a few eye-opening moments, it’s an excellent primer on the problem, its politics, and why both persist. It also has one more benefit: It’s available on YouTube right now.

You may not want to watch it from your sofa, or on any foam-filled spot for that matter, but Toxic Hot Seat, an exposé on the madness of flame retardant chemicals and the mayhem they cause, is worth your time even if you have to stand. This film traces the efforts of ordinary citizens to reveal a conspiracy of money, politics, and power that’s poisoning us all. Some elements of the story will be sadly familiar, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be any less appalled.

The Human Experiment seizes on an apt a metaphor, namely that the chemical industry has turned Earth into a science experiment with us as the guinea pigs. Here’s the view from inside the test tube, a powerful look at what’s wrong with the lack of  chemical regulation. From Oscar winner Sean Penn and Emmy-award winning journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, it is, as one reviewer puts it, a film corporate America doesn’t want us to see.

Under the Dome is a film that’s not like the others. Why watch it? Because this is a stunning cautionary tale about what happens when we let others get away with doing whatever they want to the Earth. As such, it may pack the most potent punch of all.

While you aren’t likely to find these documentaries in your local multiplex, they’re worth streaming or renting because knowledge really is power. And that’s why these films will turn you into an real superhero.

Geoff the Inkslinger and his Dog

The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!