AJ: what you think earthrise stands for?
RB: We try to help people to engage with environmental issues, by making inspirational films about individuals and communities round the world rising to the environmental challenges that we are facing.
AJ: why you think shows on the environment are necessary?
RB: Science is a communal enterprise and I feel that as film-makers and journalists we can participate in the positive development of our society by raising awareness of environmental solutions as well as the problems. Like the second lap of a relay we can take the baton from those big thinkers and local heros working on frontlines of climate change and share their innovations with the world in the hope of encouraging others to follow their lead. By featuring the courageous individuals responsible for some of the amazing environmental work that is being done throughout the world I hope to show that creating ways to sustainably improve our quality of life while reducing our negative environmental impacts can be an exciting challenge as well as being fulfilling, fun and financially rewarding.
AJ: your personal passion/pet green project:
RB: I think being more self sufficient in terms of energy, food and water makes a lot of sense. I dream one day of moving to the cooperatively owned isle of Eigg in Scotland’s inner Hebrides (where I filmed my first piece for earthrise) and building an off-grid home like the “earthship” we occupied during our earthrise shoot in Taos New Mexico with rebel-architect Mike Reynolds.
AJ: how you try to be green in your daily life:
RB: I became a vegetarian about three years ago and believe that the environmental impact of animal agriculture is one of the giant green elephants in the room. I think if one looks into the welfare issues of modern factory farming it is quite easy to go veggi but In terms of the land and water and other resources required to raise animals for food not to mention the deforestation and methane emissions… switching to plants for protein is one of the easiest ways we can drastically reduce our environmental impact- and its healthier for you!
AJ: Why is the environment important?
RB: Its not hard to think of “the environment” as our home and that of our children and all the other non-human animal and plant species that have taken millions of years of evolution to be here now. It takes a bit of imagination to appreciate the earth at the ecological level as an incredibly complex, infinitely interconnected system of living and non-living parts. On a quantum level scientists tell us we are all made up of the same stuff as everything else and exist in a kind of bubbling soup of subatomic particles in constant flux… but no matter how you look at it - As one begins to realise how intimately everything is connected nature ceases to be something “out there” for us to exploit or protect… when the penny finally drops that nature is not just around us but in us, that we are nature it is hard to remain ambivalent about what we as a species are doing to the planet and what we need to do … we are all in this thing together so we should start acting like it.
AJ: What are you doing to save the planet? –
RB: By making earthrise I hope to get people to think differently about our relationship with the planet and each other… we need to re-frame our understanding of climate change and environmentalism from “saving the planet” to “saving civilisation” which is what we are actually talking about .
AJ: What is your top tip to help save the environment?
RB: Stop eating animals, get a bike, be conscious about consumption and contribute to your community – a diverse, interconnected, politically engaged community is the best resilience to many of the stresses that may well be exacerbated by climate change in coming years.
AJ: Does climate change exist?- yes
AJ: How serious is climate change and why?
RB:It’s the single biggest threat facing our civilisation. Its is happening now and it is manifesting in many ways from transforming weather systems to disrupting ecosystems and economy- climate change is a stress amplifier and since everything is connected – as Naomi Kleins excellent new book about the connections of climate change, capitalism and global trade is aptly entitled – “this changes everything”
RB: What is the single biggest threat to the planet?
RB: Simply for us to carry on doing what we are doing… i.e. subsidising big energy companies to keep extracting carbon from the earth in ever more dangerous and dirty ways and by allowing unregulated capitalism to continue influencing politics and profiting at the expense of the planet and the lives of people, plants and animals that call it home.
RB: What is the single most important thing your doing to combat climate change?
RB: By giving a platform for the courageous individuals and communities on the frontlines of climate change to share their stories, I’m hopefully helping inspire other people to follow their good example.
RB: What state will the planet be in, in 50 years if the current trend continues?
RB: Not good. We need to divest from dirty energy, invest in renewables and take power back from the corporations that are making huge profits from exploiting the planet. We need to be more conscious of the choices that we make, and know that we are casting a vote every time we take out our wallets. We need to start re-localising our economies and make an effort to Know where our food comes from, where our clothes come from where our money is and what its being used for. We need to take environmentalism into the mainstream by reframing environmental action as a collective responsibility and moral imperative. We need to be aware that by continuing on a business as usual track – despite knowing what we know about climate change – is ethically reprehensible. We need to make it socially unacceptable to lead a super consumptive lifestyle and pressurise politicians into making policies that encourage greening of industry, agriculture and urban design to make it easier for people to make environmentally responsible decisions while forcing corporations to do the right thing like pay for their pollution and reduce planned obsolescence.
Russell Beard received the Foreign Press Association award for environmental story of the year 2012 and 2013 for “Bee Fence” (2012) and “Urban Oil Men” (2013) and the Gold World Medal at the Newyork Film Festivals for Ladakhs Ice Stupa Project in 2018 and a Silver World Medal for Samso - The Green Island at the Newyork Film Festivals in 2019.