7 Sci-Fi Movies That Capture the Coming Horrors of Climate Change

From 'Max Max' to 'Mutafukaz'

mad max fury road climate change

Science fiction cinema is full of brutal depictions of a future where temperatures rise, water is scarce, and civilization crumbles under the weight of global warming, but a report from the United Nations earlier this week reveals that this horrifying future isn’t as far off (or fictional) as you might have hoped. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we could see climate disaster on a massive scale by the year 2030 if society doesn’t pull together in “unprecedented” ways to combat rising global temperatures.

That alone should scare everyone — including the 100 corporations responsible for over 70 percent of global emissions — but even with the threat of climate change looming just over a decade away, it can be hard to reconcile that future with the world we’re living in today. Thankfully, that’s where those movies come in, offering a glimpse at the horrors that may be right around the corner if humanity doesn’t get its actor together ASAP and do something about climate change before it’s too late.

Here are seven sci-fi movies that show the terrifying future that may be in store for us very soon.

Warning: Mild spoilers for some mostly-old movies ahead.

7. Mutafukaz

Playing in U.S. theaters now, this 2017 anime tells the story of a not-so-distant future where aliens have infiltrated our government and industry to speed up global warming and terraform the Earth to their liking. (That may sound like a huge spoiler, but in a movie so full of twists and turns your head will spin it’s really just a drop in the bucket.)

As temperatures rise society collapses, especially for the inhabitants of New California, which has been sliced up into dirty urban centers, roach-infested slums, and gang-controlled territories that not even the police will enter. Mutafukaz features voice acting from rapper Vince Staples, Danny Trejo, Giancarlo Esposito, Dascha Polanco (Orange Is the New Black), and RZA as a Shakespeare-quoting gang leader.

'Mad Max: Fury Road'
'Mad Max: Fury Road'

6. Mad Max: Fury Road

This 2015 reboot, from the same director as the original Mel Gibson movies, takes place in a near future where climate change led to droughts that dried up the land and washing away human civilization. What’s left behind is mass suffering and an evil leader who hordes the remaining water, dolling it out in tiny increments as “Aqua Cola.”

'Waterworld'
'Waterworld'

5. Waterworld

Released in 1995, Waterworld is set in a distant future (roughly 2500 C.E.) after the polar ice caps melt and the entire planet is flooded. As a result, humans are forced to live in floating communities while dreaming of dry land. The dramatic shift in climate and landscape also upends society, leading to a world full of violence, pirates, and human mutation.

Snowpiercer
Snowpiercer

4. Snowpiercer

In an alternate universe where scientists attempted to solve global warming and accidentally triggered a new ice age, the only remaining humans live on a train that never stops moving as it carves its way through endless snow on a track that circles the globe. Onboard the Snowpiercer, society is stratified, with the poorest in back forced to subsist on processed cockroach meat while the richest live a lavish lifestyle near the front of the train.

It’s easy to imagine the same thing happening in our own universe. As climate change intensifies, the few remaining resources will go to the richest and most powerful while everyone else is left to fight over scraps.

'Soylent Green'
'Soylent Green'

3. Soylent Green

All the way back in 1973, this movie turned climate change into horror with its famous final line, “Soylent Green is people!” The rest of the film, which stars Charleton Heston as a detective investigating a murder at the Soylent Corporation, offers a disturbing look at a world rendered nearly uninhabitable by global warming. Food is scarce, homelessness is rampant, and the only remaining trees are kept in a small tent inside a desolate park. Of course, there’s also the whole involuntary cannibalism thing, which should be enough to scare you even without those other problems.

'The Colony'
'The Colony'

2. The Colony

Set in the year 2045, The Colony takes place long after climate change becomes an undeniable reality, forcing humans to build weather-controlling machines just to survive. But when those machines break down, humanity is forced to live in caves, leading to issues with food scarcity, disease, and worse. (It’s cannibals, it’s always cannibals.)

'The Day After Tomorrow'
'The Day After Tomorrow'

1. The Day After Tomorrow

If you’re looking for disaster porn that also touches on climate change issues, well, you’ve probably already seen this movie. The Day After Tomorrow belongs to a generation of big-budget disaster flics where cities get destroyed while action heroes dodge giant tidal waves and explosions. But unlike, say 2012, The Day After Tomorrow also offers a stern warning about global warming, one that we probably should have listened to when the movie first premiered back in 2004.

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Media via Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, CJ Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, RLJ Entertainment, 20th Century Fox