URBAN OIL MEN

This is a story, less about the process of recycling cooking-oil and more about a new wave of environmental entrepreneurs making money and creating jobs in a difficult economy. By turning a waste into a resource the guys at “Grease Lightning” are using innovation, competition and hard graft to drive a new cleaner, greener economy (that means an environmental win for all of us and makes millions of dollars in the process) … by effectively re-applying the conventional drivers of capitalism this team of environmental entrepreneurs, truckers, and ex wall-street traders are re-imagining the American dream – or you could say recycling it.

Urban Oil Men won the prestigious Foreign Press association award for best environment film of the year in 2013

 Waste cooking oil from fast food outlets is being converted into bio-diesel, reducing waste and pollution. 

Shooting / Director:  Anson Hartford (Banyak Films)

Sound / Co-director: Hugh Hartford (Banyak Films)

Reporting: Russell Beard

 
 

ARCTIC ENZYMES

In this film we visited Danish biotech company Novozymes- world leaders in the use of enzymes  for use in "white Tech" industrial processes to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. We join two of their star mycologists Sarah Landvik and Mikako Sasa on a fungi-hunting mission to Lapland. We hiked up the side of a massive glacier and after much searching I found a tiny hairy toadstool – none too impressive but when Mikako explained that mushrooms such as these contain enzymes that could hold the biological blue-prints that scientists at Novozymes need to combat climate change by helping industry reduce energy consumption and decrease our species dependence on fossil fuels .. now that’s what I call a magic mushroom!

Chemicals used in industry to manufacture a variety of goods, from clothes to food and pharmaceuticals, can pollute the environment. But a team of scientists think the secret to reducing the environmental impact of industry and decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels might just be found in fungi.

Shooting / Director:  Anson Hartford 

Sound / Co-director: Hugh Hartford

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

RESTORING THE ELWAH RIVER

After four years of blasting the dust is finally settling on the largest Dam removal project in history.. we join Robert Ellofson - Lower Elwah Klallum tribal elder  and the driving force behind the project. He and a team of park rangers, engineers and biologists welcomed us to the park and let us get involved with habitat restoration. We got to try our hands at a spot of geomorphology and see how scientists are using state-of-the-art sonar to monitor the return of the mighty Chinook salmon… also I saw a NOAA scientist performing ”gastric lavage” on a live bull trout … (i.e making it throw up so you can see what he’s been eating).. quite amazing.. quite gross!

How the largest dam removal project in history is healing habitats and setting the Elwha River free. 

Dir:  Daniel Nikolaison 

Producer: Daniel Nikolaison / Russell Beard

Sound: Daniel "Chu" Owen

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

PESTICIDE-FREE FARMING

Around two million farmers in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have ditched chemical pesticides in favour of natural repellants and fertilisers, we meet Dr. DV Raidu and a growing network of self-help groups that farm non GM crops - without chemical pesticides or fertilisers which is better for the planet and for their profits.  They introduced us to some of the effective low-tech solutions they have developed to stave off pests and disease and let me give them a hand harvesting some rice. We made some organic pesticide and fertilisers using leaves from their prized Neem tree together with other more unsavoury ingredients fresh from their family cow. Note to self: in future don’t attempt to spray crops with urine-based pesticide while standing up wind from your hosts… 

A revolutionary experiment in sustainable agriculture is showing impressive results in south India as part of a growing eco-agriculture movement. 

Shooting / Director   Dave Aspinal

Producer: Silvia Rowley/ Russell Beard

Sound: Dan "Chu" Owen

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

AQUAPODS

Last year I went to La Paz in Mexico with my friends Hugh and Anson of Banyak Films to shoot a film with marine biologist and inventor Steve Page. He is the mad scientist behind an incredible new kind of off-shore, deep water fish farm called the Aquapod.  We got to join thousands of fish inside one of these crazy looking structures which he hopes will herald a new environmentally friendly future for fish farming. It looks like science fiction but these gigantic submerged geodesic pods promise to take the pressure off the wild populations while reducing the environmental impact caused by shallow water fish farms.

With the global demand for fish on the rise and wild fish stocks depleting just as fast, the need to find an alternative to damaging shallow water fish farms is as urgent as ever.

Shooting / Director:  Hugh Hartford / Anson Hartford 

Sound / Co-director: Hugh Hartford

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

BEE-FENCE

Dr Lucy King from Kenyan NGO Save the Elephants is an expert in human – elephant conflict resolution. She has developed an ingenious solution to discourage elephants from ransacking homes and raiding crops by exploiting their mortal fear of the humble honeybee. I travelled to Tsavo in southern Kenya to lend a hand building a new Bee-hive fence and meet some of the farmers who are benefitting from the project and . 

Bee-Fence won the prestigious Foreign Press association award for best environment film of the year in 2012

Elephants fear of the humble honey-bee is key to a successful new project addressing human-wildlife conflict in southern Kenya. 

Shooting / Director:  Scott Corbin

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

LITER OF LIGHT

Tapping the power of renewables can afford a cheep and clean source of electricity- but expensive set-up costs pushes green technology beyond the means of many people. Illac Diaz graduate of Harvard and MIT and is driving force behind “a Liter of Light”  - a totally decentralised a grassroots solar power revolution that is improving the lives of some of the planets poorest people using nothing more than a discarded plastic bottle and a little bleach.… plus we got to see how plans are shaping up to launch a neat LED upgrade with a mini affordable solar cell so families can access sunlight throughout the night.

Local social entrepreneur Illac Diaz has developed a cheap and simple method to illuminate homes - entry-level green technology that he's calling a liter of light 

Shooting/ Director: Dave Aspinal

Sound / Director: Hugh Hartford

Producer /Reporter: Russell Beard

 

BIRD-MAN

Martin Wheeler, otherwise known as Birdman, has always had a passion for birds. The Kenyan-born 'local hero' runs a bird of prey sanctuary, rehabilitating endangered species before releasing them back into the wild - but thats not how he earned his nick-name... Thanks to a few youtube videos and a para-motor he bought off ebay he is able to help his community protect precious wildlife from being hunted to extinction and has a unique perspective on elephant conservation in kenya.  

Massive herds of wild elephant attract the tourists who's dollars provide income for the Lekipia Massai tribe as well as funding the park rangers and their restoration efforts. Thanks to good land management there is always food and water to attract the elephants- and the circle is complete.  it’s a great system that proves tourism, wildlife and traditional pastoralist way of life can work in harmony.

Birdman flies a para-motor high above the bush and is the eyes in they sky for Sierra One and the team of park rangers.  With thousands of acres to cover his arial support is a vital component to the whole Tasia wildlife-protection jigsaw puzzle.  

Shooting / Director:  Anson Hartford 

Sound / Co-director: Hugh Hartford

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

AMAZON ALLIANCE

When I heard of a Texan Rancher on a mission to save the amazon rainforest  - like most people I was sceptical. But John Carter is no ordinary Rancher. After trying eco-tourism and politics and conventional conservation john had an epiphany when flying his Cessna over the burning amazon that the only way to save the forest was to turn the amazons no1 enemy into its greatest ally…

So he has created a kind of agricultural A-team "Alianca da Terra" (AT) to help park rangers do their jobs in an extremely hostile environment of violence, intimidation and lawless corruption. They give advice and support to ranchers to help them improve yeilds and reduce deforestation and by creating an "AT" seal, John and his team are providing consumers the means to identify “rainforest –friendly”  product and thereby supporting a cleaner supply chain.

One Texan rancher is turning the rainforest's greatest enemy into its ally.

Shooting   Dave Aspinal

Producer: Silvia Rowley/ Russell Beard

Sound: Dan "Chu" Owen

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

BARBADOS GOES GREEN

Last year we attended the world environment day celebration on Barbados - the small island developing state that is punching above its weight when it comes to developing a green economy... We joined young entrepreneur and aquaponics enthusiast Damien Hinkson - and Darren Brown and his team at the Barbados sea Turtle Project along with the grandfather of solar thermal movement James Husbands- who thanks in part to a generous subsidy by the progressive government put Barbados fourth in the world per capita for solar thermal take-up. I was honoured to interview the prime minister about how a combination of the right political policies and private enterprise is a potent combination for stimulating green growth.

earthrise travels to Barbados to see how the tiny island has become a world leader in solar thermal technology.

Shooting / Director:  Dave Aspinal

Producer: Silvia Rowley 

Sound: Dan "Chu" Owen

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

MYANMAR SMART FARMERS

We joined Home-grown Myanmar NGO Proximity Design for a ten day trip around this incredible country to see how they are helping farmers on the frontlines of climate change not just survive but thrive. We helped local farmer Zaw Zaw Mo deliver a truck load of  multi award winning super-efficient and low cost “Treadle pump” irrigations systemsto the northerly dry-zone where farmers are suffering the longest drought in 40 years. We then headed down to the coast to join their farm advisory service who are helping farmers at the countries irriwadi river delta cope with increasing storm surge, sea level rise and salt water inundation. With the help of a local quick-growing rice strain and some intelligent irrigation the Proximity team are helping farmers across the entire region grow two crops in one season instead of just one - meaning more cash in the bank which will help them build the infrastructure they need to weather future storms.

Practically isolated from the global market for 50 years, Myanmar is still largely dependent on agriculture. But the country is one of the most at risk from climate change and no one feels these pressures more than the rural smallholder farmers who make up the backbone of its food system and rural economy.

Shooting / Director:  Hugh Hartford

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

ON THE TRAIL OF SLEEPING SICKNESS

After shooting “Ugastoves” for earthrise in Uganda with Daniel Nikolaison the two of us headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo to shoot an episode of Al Jazeera’s Medical show called THE CURE with our friend and colleague Dr Javid Abdelmoneim - (when he’s not busy saving peoples lives as an emergency doctor in London he’s working in war zones or containing ebola outbreaks as a MSF medic – #truehero!) after an unforgettable cesna flight through lighting storm over the Congo we spent an incredible few days in the jungle filming Javid and head of Mission Marie Claret and her dedicated MSF crew in their efforts to eradicate sleeping sickness... we went from 4x4 to motorbike to dugout canoe to reach some very remote communities to set up field hospitals and conduct trials so that the team could identify those in need of attention.  the fatal disease is passed on in a bite of the tsese fly and a tell-tale sign of infection is logorrhea (i.e talking too much) .. maybe I should have got a test myself!

In this special episode of The Cure, emergency medic Dr Javid Abdelmoneim travels deep into the Democratic Republic of Congo to see how clinicians from the international medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are screening and treating patients in a bid to make elimination of the disease a reality.

Dir:  Daniel Nikolaison / Russell Beard

Sound: Russell Beard

Reporting: Dr Javid Abdelmoneim

 

GREEN GOODBYES

Death can be a messy business- cremation can be polluting and energy intensive and while conventional burial with all the chemicals and metal coffins is incredibly resource hungry (apparently every year Americans bury enough steel to build the golden gate bridge!) .  There are other simple, inexpensive and ecologically sound alternatives that use trees instead of tombstones and eschew the use of toxic chemical preservatives and cement liners but in Massachusetts these “green burials” are actually illegal. 

So it was a great privilege to meet Ruth Faas and Edith Moseley who are part of a growing community campaigning for the legalisation of green burials in Boston. We met Ruth at her showroom called Mourning Dove where I got to try out a cardboard coffin for size before Eva and i took a road trip to Seven Oaks natural cemetery. We had a very pleasant stroll around in the forested grounds where it was almost impossible to tell that anyone was buried there at all.

I did Lanscape design and Ecology as my first degree and chose to focus on green burial practices for my final project so was really keen to do this film when my mate Matan Rochlitz came up with the idea. Unfortunately he was unavailable to Direct since he was Kenya shooting “Pink Horned Rhinos” – another film for (Al Jazeera’s earthrise series) so that meant another collaboration with producer/ director double-act Hugh and Anson Hartford… I often do the writing and some producing in the edit for earthrise but this was really Anson’s baby.. I think he’s done a great job on it and it remains one of my favourite wee films.

Ecologist and soil scientist Glen Ayers explaining to Russell why he plans to forego conventional burial procedure in favour of a greener path to the great hereafter  

Shooting / Director:  Hugh Hartford / Anson Hartford 

Sound / Co-director: Hugh Hartford

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

DETROIT'S URBAN FARMING REVOLUTION

In the early 20th century the American city of Detroit was a booming industrial powerhouse and world leader in car manufacturing. But since the major car companies closed their factories, more than a million taxpayers have moved out of Detroit, leaving behind more than 100 square kilometres of vacant land, and nearly 40,000 abandoned houses. A group of visionary residents are now sowing the seeds of an urban farming revolution.

Caroline Leadley Loves garlic!  - She runs a thriving small-holding called "Rising Pheasant Farms"  and is just one of a growing number of urban farmers in Detroit.

Shooting / Director:  Dave Aspinal

Producer: Silvia Rowley / Russell Beard 

Sound: Dan "Chu" Owen

Reporting: Russell Beard

 

SINGAPORE: ASIAS GREENEST CITY

Global trends indicate that by 2030 around two-thirds of the world population will be living in cities -  driving up CO2 levels and increasing competition for space and resources

in SIngapore challenges from rapid urbanisation, sea level rise and an increasingly chaotic climate is forcing planners, architects and policy-makers to respond to critical questions about how cities of the future will deal with waste and cope with a growing demand for affordable housing, food and public transportation

We travel to Singapore, to understand how one of the world’s most densely populated nations has been named “Asia’s greenest city”.  to find out more met an ecologically-minded architect, Richard Hassel  (WOHA) and Lai Hok an activist and creator of urban farm and ecological education hub Ground Up Initiative  

 

Producer / Director: Dan Boaden

Shooter / CO-Director : Ray Lavers

Reporter: Russell Beard

 

LADAKH'S ICE STUPA PROJECT

Millions of people rely directly on glacier melt for survival but due to rapid and profound anthropogenic climate change these "reservoirs in the sky" are disappearing at an alarming rate. Around *260 gigatones of Ice are being lost to the oceans every year affecting not just communities in the immediate vicinity but contributing to sea level rise, habitat loss and affecting the water supply for billions of people living down stream.

This incredible looking "Ice Stupa" structure stores winter melt water as ice before it escapes to the sea so that come springtime the millions of litres of water can be used for irrigation of over 5000 trees in an ambitious desert-greening project conceived by local engineer and environmental visionary Songnam Wanchuk. Check out the Ice stupa project website for more info :)

* According to NASA around 400 gigatones of ice are being lost to the oceans each year from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets alone (i had to google a giga tonne - its a square Km) ... and to put that gargantuan figure in perspective- check out this WWF document -  in order to fill a bath tub 260 km2 deep you'd need a giant tap running with a flow equivalent to the Orinoco, the Mississippi, the Congo and the Yangtse combined - FOR A YEAR!)

All life depends on snow in Ladakh, with the high-altitude desert region receiving only 50mm of rainfall a year. Agriculture relies mainly on the water that comes from snow and glacial melt, but with rising temperatures and changing weather patterns, most villages in the area are experiencing severe water shortage.

Producer:  Lisa Dupenoise

Shooter / Director : Mrinal Desai

Reporter / Director: Russell Beard

Field Producer: Stanzin Gourmet