Star Trek’s Top Environmental Episodes (and Films)

“Judging by the pollution content of the atmosphere, I believe we have arrived at the late 20th century”
– Spock, STIV

On this Earth Day, takes a look at Star Trek’s best environmentally-themed episodes and films.

TrekMovie’s picks for the top environmental episodes of each series (and the movies).

The Original Series – The Mark of Gideon
A cautionary tale on over-population, the episode openly deals with issues such as birth control (generally a taboo subject on 1960s TV).

Honorable Mention:The Paradise Syndrome” Kirk gets happy by eschewing modern society

Next Generation –Force of Nature
Enterprise learns that warping around exploring new worlds and seeking out civilizations is actually damaging space itself, and imposes a limit on warp to protect the ‘space environment.’

Honorable Mention: "Home Soil” Terraformers (developers) ignore silicon life-form (endangered species) to their peril

Deep Space Nine –
Morality play on issues of land rights and the rights of farmers vs. the rights of the state.

Honorable Mention: "Sanctuary” A lesson on sensitivity to refugees and a population crisis

Voyager – Night
Janeway makes a choice and takes a stand against the Malon, the polluters of the Delta Quadrant.

Honorable Mention: "Friendship One” & "Time and Again" anti-nuclear stories of tech out of control

Enterprise – Cold Station 12 (Arik Soong/Augment Arc)
When experiments with genetics go bad…they go really bad.

Honorable Mention: "Hatchery” Ugly insects have ‘animal rights’ too

Movies – Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The most obvious all Star Trek environmental messages, the ‘save the whales’ themed film was named one of the top environmental films. The connection here is that by saving the whales we save our selves, showing the interconnectedness of all species.

Honorable Mention: "Star Trek: Insurrection” Picard fights against strip mining (a planet’s atmosphere).

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happy earth day! now turn off your pc and plant a tree.

“Honorable Mention: “Star Trek: Insurrection” Picard fights against strip mining”

So THAT’S what the heck was going on!!!

Thanks for clearing that up for me…

Go Planet!!

strip mining!! LOLOLOL

Nemesis – For putting an end to Rick Berman polluting the theaters with bad Star Trek films.

I always loved “Paradise Syndrome”. It always made me feel peaceful and….”HAPPY”.

On another note, I can’t believe no one’s ever mined from this episode, the possibility of a story where Miramonee didn’t die, though whatever scifi means, and a Kirk offsrping being out there.

haha “Picard fights against strip mining”

I never thought of it that way before

Force of Nature – The whole warp travel damaging space episode. That episode had the biggest reset button of all time I think.

The mining reference is perfect, because the Son’a are mining metaphasic particles from the Baku planetary rings. Previous versions of the feature film script presented Romulans mining the planet, yet Michael Piller moved the mining to the rings because it was more futuristic mining. My wife and I utilize the film in our lectures about environmentalism and sociology.

Haha! Strip mining!

Do you mean those mountains that once were found in Pennsylvania’s coal crackin’ country?

Ugly after effects to be sure… but it beats dying in a mine shaft (directly or indirectly as with Black Lung) as too many of my forefathers did.

The good news is this: while messes are often necessary, we clean them up as soon as we figure out how to do it. Where would we be without 19th and 20th C coal? Back in the Bronze Age to be sure. But thank God we figured out how to move beyond it, repair the damage, clean the water, and hopefully be smarter having learned all those bloody lessons the hard way.

Still, I wish Picard would have said something like, “If I have ethics superior to any other man, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of – dead – giants.”

If he had, TNG < would have been much more enjoyable.

I thought Insurrection was about Picard gettin’ some.

Also, I always like the way this show ended. A moving ending and an atypical Star Trek closing. Seems like a few third season ones ended this way. Makes you think what the show would have been like had it stayed on for the five year mission.

I vote for “The Doomsday Machine”.

It certainly cleared up any lingering pollutants or greenhouse gases that the planets of system L-370 were suffering from.

Interesting that the only ones of those that were any good were “The Voyage Home” and the “Enterprise” episode that was part of the “Augments” arc.

“Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home“


‘Mark of Gideon’ and ‘Home Soil’ are two low-water marks for their respective series. Sorry. The former is just plain dull, while the latter allows us to believe that a colony of scientists (ok, terra-formers) is dumber than the dirt they work with.

Happy to see out point out ‘Night’ and ‘Sanctuary.’ These are far better stories. In fact, both came as nice surprises in low points of ‘those’ series.

While I’m all for eco-friendly Trek, I gotts-ta have me some good story tellin’.

Happy Earth Day. (What about Vulcan Day… if ever there was a fixer-upper planet, it’s Vulcan. What did they do there, go nuts with the hair-dryers and aerosol mousse spray? Greenhouse? It’s hotter than hell!)

I think we should all celebrate Earth Day by burning tires.

And the Borg were the biggest recyclers in the Galaxy.

How can you pick “Home Soil” and not “Devil in the Dark?” It was basically the same episode – SIlicon life form is believed at first to be something other than it is, leading to death on both sides until a method of communication is found. Plus, DITD also has miners learning to work with their environment instead of against it.

#10 agreed, but it too bad that a good portion of the world doesnt follow suit. The rain forest in Brazil is just a small fraction of what it once was. Its almost like we (USA) have gone back in time over the last 7 years. All the tax incentives that were given to the auto manufactured for developing higher efficent vehicles are now given to big oil, even with their record profits.

Hybrid cars? No Nobody has figured out how to dispose of the batteries, automobiles need to move to hydrogen based fuel, all that is put in the atmosphere is water.

Yay. Insurrection. Underrated. A fun movie.
Would have been nice if IT were the last TNG film instead of the putrid and depressing NEM.

Paradise Syndrome was on TV LAND at six this morning as a matter of fact – it’s nice to get a Trek hit before trudging off to work….

With a few exceptions, (Most notably Trek IV, which is one of the best Trek films of all time in my book, and Shaakar, which really isn’t enviromental at all) most of Trek’s forays into enviromentalism have been quite frankly awful. And don’t even get me started on Force of Nature and the horrid Warp Speed Limit (shudder); let me go ahead and say it: worst….idea…ever!

But, anyway, nice list…

The two TNG eps are way down the bottom of watchable Trek, and that pic from Force of Nature is like “Nightmare of the Buttheads,”

Insurrection was about what happens when one meets a stagnated society with no penchant for exploration or self-development. The Federation for some reason decides to aid in their destruction. I turned off my Star Trek hat in this one.

Global Warming is Fad….much like Global Cooling was in the 1970’s.

Regardless of whether or not Global Warming is “real”, we DO have limited resources and our population IS increasing, so y’know…something is going to give sooner or later. Call it what you want.

20. Cyberghost… “Hybrid cars? No Nobody has figured out how to dispose of the batteries, automobiles need to move to hydrogen based fuel, all that is put in the atmosphere is water.”

Um… guess where we get the bulk of our hydrogen…

“There be Whales here, Admiral”

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. My personal favorite for many reasons

I’m not turning my computer off, but I’ll shut off any unneeded power. The computer IS needed!

I’m still pissed off at the Klingons for giving Scotty a sour stomach.

“Friendship One” seems vaguely familiar.
Oddly, this may be the only case of Trek stealing from Space: 1999, while the reverse happened a lot! The two stories head off in different directions, but check out how they each begin.

Interesting that the Space ep is titled “Voyager’s Return.”

The global envirnonmental problems created by our our civilization may cause our downfall as a species. We have treated mother earth like a garbage dump sincebefore the industrial age began., we’ve effectively polluted our water, ground and air to the point where its not only effecting our health now, but those of our decendants. Plus you have deforestation of the rainforest in South America which shows no signs of stopping anytime soon because places like Brazil don’t care about the long only the short term econoic benefits. With the rainforest global climate is further compromised. Oh they will eventually cutting the forest when its all gone. Then there is the Kyoto accords whose purpose was to reduce global Emissions, But the united states wont ratify it, Why? because it would negatively impact the economy, and in any event the accords have been compromised to to the point of being ineffective anyways because it allows country’s like China and India to go on polluting, STUPID! Then thereis the whole issue of alternative to burning fossil fuel, Wind Farms, in cape cod people are working to defeat the project because the wind millls might spoil the damned view of the cape and Nuclear power no one wants one of those in their back yards Of course there is half hearted effort by industries to come up with fuel cell or more efficient Batteries to replace the internal combustion engine, but of course thats a no no to big oil which such things would cut into their profets. The other problem is that even simply steps an changes in our life styles might minimize some of these problems, but that require personal sacrifices which damned few people are willing to make. And politicans love those words like environment responsibility and save the environment, which sound great until after the elections, then become inconvenient and quickly get forgotten. Then there is the fact that we are driving whole species into extinction which could have long run reprecusions on the food chain and Us. The future for is Us one Word EXTINCTION .

Jeez, Garovorking. I sure hope someone’s building starships, so we can get off this trash heap and spread Mankind’s blessings to the far reaches of God’s creation.


Hear, hear. I say that we terraform Mars.

But in all seriousness… Earth day is great fun. We do need to keep our planet in good shape. I was recently at a lecture by Jane Goodall (A Reason for Hope) at Purdue University. She said that by current estimates,
“we would need at least 6 more planets in order to sustain our way of life. But we don’t have 6 planets; we have just 1.”

Doctor Goodall made a very valid point: we need to protect our planet from exactly what we’re doing. If we all help out, it will start to see a rebound. I think that that is the one thing that we all can agree on, whether you be American, English, Australian, Ukrainian, German, Irish, Polish, Kenyan, Vulcan, Katarian, or Klingon: we need to make sure that the current generation of children, and their children live to see the Earth as a great and thriving place.

Goodall also said this: “I absolutely do believe that we have compromised our children’s futures. And for that I am truly sorry.”

For my generation (I’m 18, going to Ohio State), I don’t honestly feel that we have a lot to look forward to. I feel that my life is going to be spent picking up the ruins that parents and grandparents left behind because they didn’t think about what they could do to the Earth. I want to be a Marine Biologist in a few years time, and I just hope that I get the opportunity to study animals in their natural habitat. But instead, I’ll probably spend it all working on the impact that pollution has had on our coral reefs and lakes.

I’m not trying to sound selfish or pompous, but it is the truth. I don’t want to pay the price for the mistakes of those who came before me. It’s simply not fair to have my life and thousands of others compromised by actions of those who simply didn’t care.

Fortunately, my other love is Paleontology. I have a feeling that will be a growing field in the future.

That One Guy —
I’ll try to leave my bones in a readily-accessible place for you.

All glibness aside, I love the Earth. But, rather than getting angry and jumping on short-term actions, I would like to see real longterm changes. Education is usually your best friend. I do teach my kids the value of the wild places we visit. I urge them not to allow condos and crap to be built there. I ask them to check out how products come our way, avoid over-packaging, and other simple things.

I call it “51%.” All we have to do, any of us is stay afloat (50%, equalibrium) and then give back a mere 1%. If everyone did that, we really could keep Mama Earth healthy and get to the Stars, too.

How about Star Trek V for the beautiful scenes of Yosemite and for Kirk making sure that the campfire is out and that they take care of the trash.

I was in China in March, and you cannot see the country from the air because of all the industrial junk in it. Even in agricultural areas. And breathing that air was a pleasure, let me tell you.

The corporate culture we live in is quite happy to farm out heavy industry to places like China and India, where people breathe in coal emissions 24/7 their whole lives to make a few bucks. Norway makes all of it’s export revenue from oil (and some fish). It’s the greenest and cleanest country I have seen.

Garovorkin, you should try and chill out. Al Gore is a politician. Has he forgotten? The changes are happening. It takes more time. I am recycling in the several US states I’ve lived in, and it’s the law, and it was discussed for years before it was passed, but now I do it. I currently reside in Sweden. No choice but to do so.

The ozone layer is repairing itself because of cuts in fluorocarbons. Have you seen all the windmills in Austria, or California? They are in giant empty fields. Hundreds of them. I’ve driven through and seem them from the air. Cape Cod has a point. Shall we put them on the cliffs of Dover or the Grand Canyon?

Nuclear power must always be on the table as well, but when we can do it.

I am liberal myself, mostly, but I believe it has to be driven by the free market. Entrepreneurs have to collect private equity to fund ventures that create these technologies outside of Big Corps, and then resist the urge to be bought out by them.

Our future will always be extinction, no matter what we do. So have another beer.

Though it DID approve of strip mining of natural resources (hey, the pergium has got to come from somewhere), “Devil in the Dark” has always been an important lesson not only in prejudice, but species conservation. And about humans learning to form a symbiosis with native creatures for the benefits of both. Even ‘Wrath of Khan’ dealt with the dangers of forcing terraforming on a planet where even a native microbe could exist; thus undoing the future ecology of that world and its life. To me, that spoke of over-industrialization at the expense of nature.

AJ, what part of China? My wife is Chinese; we were there in ’06. In Tianjing, the air is so polluted, your skin stings. The leukemia rate is probably huge, but there’s no official accounting. People just know their neighbors keep dying of “the blood cancer.” Buses are called “city squid.” Awnings rot (dissolve?) off the sides of buildings. Trees perish. And they have nuclear. It’s sitting squarely between the city’s edge and farmland. Considering China’s record with corruption, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere near one of those stations. The U.S. may be bad. But we are FAR from the worst.


I was in Zhengzhou, about 90 minutes by plane SW of Beijing, on business.

When I flew into Beijing, it looked like it was burning, but with no fire.

Happy Olympics.

Hopefully, the Earth will still be as luscious and beautiful in the 23rd century as it is now.

This has been a fantastic list in depicting how Star Trek, throughout the years… has been pretty bad at tackling environmental issues. Within the series form anyhow.

Forces of Nature is definetely one of my least favourite episodes, if only for taking a big step in changing the Star Trek universe that that team was never going to be able to keep up. Certainly a pretty big stumble.

#39. Wow,CmdR, that is truly frightening. My in-laws went on a tour of China and even on the government approved tourist sites, they said the air was pretty foul. And China’s power/fuel needs are rapidly approaching the levels of the United States’ consumption; but without ANY kind of EPA to regulate the waste output or even make token efforts at enforcement. I worry about the world’s athletes going there this summer. I know one of them; he is a friend of mine, and I wish him lots of luck.

#44. On a more humorous note than my last post; does anyone remember after “Force of Nature” was broadcast, there were a couple of bumber stickers? I remember I saw them at a convention once; one said “Warp Five Saves Lives.” And another said, “Warp Five is not just a good idea; it’s Federation Law,” or words to that effect.

Last time there was an environmental thread (on ST IV being voted best environmental movie), I was ashamed of many of the posts on a Star Trek site. The current posts on this thread, (so far)are mostly exemplary. I couldn’t believe that so many Star Trek fans, a group one would think respects scientists and science, and cares about life, would be so…..dumb. There were posts about how that the fact that the overwhelming majority of scientists are very concerned about global warming are only politically motivated. Or I seem to recall this illogical beauty- how Al Gore is a bad guy so global warming must therfore be a fraud, a conspiracy. Other other such impaired thinking pervaded the thread. I would expect such limited brainpower, in which primitive emotions flood over a rational process, by “Lost in Space ” fans, but Star Trek fans?
Anyway, glad to see the majority of the posters so far have decided to function in the reality-based community and to utilize their neocortex.

“Global Warming is Fad….much like Global Cooling was in the 1970’s.”

There’s a great old episode of “In Search Of …” called “The Coming Ice Age”. *cue scary music and Nimoy’s sinister narration* Its a hoot.


I don’t that I could agree more. The whole concept of “global warming” is bull. Yes, the Earth is in fact warming up. This is not “global warming,” it is called “climate change.” Global warming is a SYMPTOM of climate change, it is not its own little phenomenon that people are making it out to be. Yes, it is true that our carbon emissions are horrific and they do deplete the OZone, but it’s not a new thing.

About every 110,000 years, the Earth goes through this exact…. same… cycle….

There is absolutely nothing new at all, whatsoever, for the life of anything NEW about climate change. It has happened so many bloody times before. The period of time that humans have inhabited the Earth has been so repulsively stable, by geologic counts.

Now, I am not discrediting “global warming,” I’m simply debunking the whole thing where people think it’s all caused by our greenhouse emissions. We sped it up, we didn’t start it. Climate change is NATURAL.

I’m fairly liberal, so don’t go calling me a “stupid Republican conservative bastard,” because I’ve heard that one SO many times in the last few months whenever this topic comes up. We need to conserve our natural resources. As I mentioned earlier, my other love is paleontology. It took millions of years for those plants and animals to decay into oil and coal for us to use. So I don’t think that we can just wait around for the next batch to drop on by.

Please, use logic. Walk more. Take the bus. Save a marsupial!

Hey, all I wanted to talk about was “In Seach Of”. :-)

Heh heh, sorry… it’s a personal pet peeve. I can go on for hours. Sorry ’bout that, Steve!

I’m with Sebastian and Lyle. “Devil in the Dark” was probably the best of the ecological episodes from the original Trek. A very important episode about respecting all lifeforms. I also loved how the Horta was mistaken for this malicious force when really it was just protecting its young eggs from the naive miners. Human can be so anthropocentic, and I always thought that “Devil in the Dark” communicates this all too well.

I love the Insurrection reference to “Strip Mining” the atmosphere. But I think Star Trek VI had a much clearer environmental message. Talk about over-industrialization! Praxis was mined until it exploded (however the hell THAT happens!?!) Nevertheless, it was an ecological disaster that brought the Klingon Empire to its knees.