Thursday, 20 June 2013


It was with some reservation I boarded the plane after booster for most things you can catch in India and a full medical kit for the crew which took up a large part of my suitcase. India had never been on my bucket list of places to go to and yet I found myself sitting on the tarmac at Sydney airport bound for Singapore and then onto Dehli. My memories of Delhi were, smelly, plenty of fumes and spending a few hours in the middle of the night on the way to London.

I was totally suprised when I landed at the new Dehli airport and thought I had not left Singapore! It was amazing, brand new, stylish and very we were off to a good start. This was also bittr sweet as it was the last shoot in what has been an amazing life expereince for me - directing a climate change series travelling to some of the most remote places in the world. And less we forget many firsts! My first camping experience in -15C, learning to pee without a toilet in the icesheets in Greenland surrounded by 12 packs of Huskies, dogsleds and Inuit hunters, hiking deep into the Amazon Rainforest and going to Antarctica - my most favourite place in the world!

In India we had two crews - a high altitude team for the 5,000 metres and a low altitide team for the remainder of the shoot - this was my team and we headed to the low foothills of the Himalayas whee our Indian adventure started. Rishekash was full of colour, extremely hard to film in, bustling with people, and COWS! Holy shit was everywhere and you needed to keep a watchful eye for the path of the cows - they rule the walkway! We attended a specila candle ceremony on the river and then an audience with one of the holy swamies - this was the begnning of many highlights and each day I think I began to understand this place of great diversity, colour and culture. We travelled further to Hardiwar where we explored the lack of water, changing Asian Monsoon that is arriving later, and delivering more extreme weather patterns, destroying crops, bring flashfloods and hardship to the rural people.

We met with Prof Ramanath and Pof Rehman, but distinguished scientists and explored the growing Brown Cloud, the issues of water security, rising tempertures affecting their  basic group production and how the great Basmarti Rice has lost its smell due to climate change.

It is a complicate story in India, their growing population is putting enormous stresses in their energy consumption and prodcution which pushes their use and production of greenhouse gases. Their growing polupation requires greater food crops and this requires consitant water supply. Wiater shortage is a major issue and their are some concerns about water wars in the future as the Himalaya glaciers continue to melt and at rates much faster than current climate models.

Varanassi was the most challenging place we went to - both personally and from a film production perspective. It is a place most peole come to die or to hold funerals along the rives edge. Over 51000 funerals are held along the great Ganges river each year, so with respect we filmed ealry in the morning at 5am before the processions began. Our ground co ordinators were amazing, and everyone we met or filmed were so passionate to tell the world about the tipping points of India climate system, and how concerned they were for their future and the future of India. Adaptation is something being taken very seriously by many of the scientists and government. Already they are trialing solar energy in rulal villagers which will make a huge difference for cooking and lighing at night time.

One of the highlights of the expedition was meeting Dr Prachuri head of the IPCC report in Dehli. He reiterated that we have the technology and the adptitude to change, but we only have 2 years left to cap our CO2 emissions. 2015 is the D date with our earth destiny and we are hurtliung towards what many scientists we met called the BIG TURN IN THE BEND, where we have to make a turn in the river, but at the rate we are speeding towards it and taking no notice to slow down we will overshoot our emmissions for this century and with that we will commit the planet to irreversble change - and this affect our future generations, our children and their families and so on.. so its pretty sobering to have spent the last 16 months travelling to all the tipping points of our climate system and to personally witness the tremendous changes taking place and how close we are to really tipping the balance. I believe to make THE BIG CHANGE WE NEED TO MAKE it is up to each and everyone of us to do something, to influence change in a small or big way, its all about the collective consciouness of change for a earth's future and for ours. I am constanlty reminded that we live in a planet in the middle of a void, empty lifeless galaxy - this planet our EARTH is only habitable because of our complex climate system and yet we choose to destroy the one thing that keeps our planet stable and has doen for the last 55 million years. In no period over the last 55 million years has the planet warmed up at such an accelerated rate.

In the last 55 million years we had a 2 degree rise iver 2,000 years. Now we will see in this century alone a temperate rise of 3-4 degrees in just 100 years - much of our bio diversity in our tropcial rainforests will not be able to adpat and we stand to loose ipto 60% of all bio diversity on the planet alone.

So is has been a priveledge to share this fantastic adventure with you - I am going to put up a selection of expedition photos over the next few weeks and will let you know when the series is going to go to air in various countries around the world.

Thanks to all - Liz ( Adventure Mum!) x


Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Its coming to the end of what has been an unbelievable year, and one I could not have dreamed of and yet one of the hardest years I have ever lived through. The climate system has become my new best friend, my trusty black travel bag has an ecliptic collection of boarding passes, pens and hotel key rooms in it, and my fashion style has definitely spilled over from the field to the suburbs - no make-up days, no hair tong days, and  no high heel days! Yes hard to imagine, but I have found a little bit of country in me. We are half way through the production of "The Tipping Point Crisis" and next year will be filming more about the changing climate system in Africa. India and the great southern oceans. Incase you did not see this terrific article in The Fairfax media recently it is well worth a read: The Earth is Melting - THE EARTH IS MELTING

This features a picture and a video clip from our forthcoming series on The Permafrost Crisis - possibly one of the really unknown threats to destabilizing our planets climate system.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Festive Season.

Liz C x

Saturday, 25 August 2012


After arriving and finally falling asleep in my tent at Toolik lake we work up to a morning filled with anticipation and excitement. Blades swirling, head sets on, we took off for an adventure of a lifetime across the remote tundra in the far North -East of Alaska to what's known as the time warp, a place where you can step back in time 45,000 years ago. After 1 hour across a desolate landscape, we came across a silver mountain rising out of the tundra - a sheer grey ice-cliff rising some 40 metres out of the tundra. It looked like a movie set out of Star Wars, and totally out of context in the rolling hillsides of far north Alaska.

The cliff face was a Thermocast, or frozen ice cliff  due to climate change and rising temperatures in the Arctic zone which are accelerating at 3-4 times the global average. We set down our helicopters on the adjacent pebble river bed and checked for bears before getting a thumbs up from the pilot that it was good to GO! Out and wow what a site - I was looking at frozen ice from the last inter-glacier period and from the bottom to the top I was looking at 45,000 years of history. To get to the ice face of the cliff we had to hike around the tundra and then navigate our way across the melting Permaforst which was oozing mud like substance equivalent to quick-sand. I stepped in the wrong place and that was it - my gumboots started to sink and I totally freaked as there was no way to get out - but luckily I was in gumboots so I was pulled across the had to leave my gum boots to sink. The mud acts like a suction cap and pulls everything down with it - lucky to have just changed my shoes from lace-ups to boots for the walk in!!

Finally we arrived at the face of the ice cliff which is called stinky bluffs as it smells like rotting garbage, only difference is - its 45,000 years old.  I touched the ice cliff at its bass and looking up at around 30,000 years we saw a set of old animal horns sticking out of the ice-cliff- large, suspended in time, I really felt like I had gone back in a time machine and to top it off we were all alone, not a single sound, except the melting and carving of ice from the face of the cliff, intensifying as the sun progressed across the day. I decided to do a Jurassic Park style sequence and jumped in the helicopter with our lead camera man and took off for the top of the cliff face, we slowly flew out over the top and then did a vertical drop down the side of the cliff face - it was amazing.

So- things are really changing out here in the tundra - the climate system is getting hotter and causing the permafrost to thaw. It in turn is thawing and releasing CO2 and Methane back into the atmosphere accelerating the warming process even more - this is called a feedback process

We ate some 10,000 year old ice - and all seems fine no one aged!!!, it actually tasted far different to the ice in the freezer at home!

Off to Barrow in 2 days - going FAR north...more soon. LC.

Monday, 20 August 2012


Touched down in Fairbanks after a long 30 hour trip, and was met by a balmy 70 degree temp! So much for the thermals, long pants, boots and wind jackets. But after a good nights sleep in a charming little cottage by the river we packed up crew van,  stopped for coffee, gum boots, and then headed north for Toolik Lake. Where you ask? A remote science station in the far north of Alaska. We drove all day, stopped at the Red Hot Cafe where they shoot Ice Road Truckers and had dinner before starting the last leg - 6 hours and across the Atigan Pass. We needed to refuel and stopped at Deadmans Log, a one town station..totally strange creepy place, all the truckies driving to Prudeo Bay stop here and we managed to hit peak hour 12 midnight. At this stage we found out we still had 3-4 hours to go, and the pass to get across, with fog rolling in, we had 2 options to push ahead or to stay in the portable cabins at Deadmans Log - so you guessed it we pushed on. So up the pass, totally freaked out as we started climbing and the fog started to roll in - it was so heavy we could not see 2 feet ahead and we were at the peak of the pass. We stopped to a crawl and I literally couldn't breathe, but as things go, the fog lifted just as we started to cross the top of the pass and from then on, we were able to see out way down. Next we met the night road truckers who were working on a huge stretch of the gravel road and we waited 30 mins for a "support car" which we had to follow through the road works area. Finally at 2.30am we arrived at Toolik Lake and found instructions to our accommodation - tents, no heating, and no toilets..girls this is not a good look...especially at 2.30am. Unpacked my sleeping bag and fell into bed, the wind then picked up and our door went flying open all through the night/should I mention the sun set at 1.15am and we watched it start to rise at 2.45am, so the tents have a black-out cover which is really fabulous so you really do think its nigh time. All things aside it is an amazing research centre for Permafrost and High Arctic Climate Change research. Though no flushing toilets and 1 shower a week ration is going to be a huge challenge for me - so will let you know how I survive!!! LC x

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Okay you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the arctic today - I think it was a good practice season standing in the wind today at soccer thinking this time next week I will be standing in snow (probably knee deep knowing how unpredictable the weather is), wind will be howling, -4 degrees today in Toolik, Alaska, so this made me think, okay not bad today really. Was even better when the portable coffee truck pulled up - never seen so many Mums look so happy!! So next chapter in the adventure is about to unravel if I dont before it! I'm sorry to not have posted that I made it home form the Amazon, was an amazing trip, Shamon man, Amazon herbal tea and all..I think the heat was really what was so overwhelming, like being in a Sauna 24/7, you really had to watch how much water you drank as it just dripped off you and that was  standing in the shade. The last location in the Amazon was really very special - Christalino Lodge in the southern tip of the Amazon, an Eco Lodge in the middle of nowhere. Plane trip to Alto Floresta, then a very bumpy van trip for 2 hours, down direct roads to the edge of the river, then a 1 hour boat trip to the Lodge. While we were there I saw an anaconda - really was suoer amazing, huge. The monkeys were very cheekly and threw fruit and seeds on us - when I say through it was like standing under a rain cloud of berries they just showered all around us really very funny. The bird life and butterflies were beautiful, colourful, and plentiful. At night time we had the Howler monkeys again..they seemed to follow us and they really do howl through the night 0 but like a horror movie/great sound effects!  I had a scary moment one night when I miss timed the generator turn-off ( normally 10pm) and went out to find a patch in the forest where the tree canopy was clear and I could call our travel agent  ont the Sat Phone..yes hard to beleive but we could not access the internet and had no idea if our flights hand changed. In the middle of the call the lights all went out and I was left in the pitch dark with no torch...every shadow was a crouching tiger, howling monkey ot something! Managed to find my way back as there was a full moon, but never again...So this week on Thursday we head off the shoot part of the story on the rapid acceleration of loss of Methane/ and the melting of the Permafrost across the sub arctic regions, namley Siberia and Alaska. We are traveling to several research sites in Alaska to look at the melting Permafrost story and then all the way to Barrow to where the sea ice is rapidly retreating, and Methane Hydtrates are starting to also melt in the shallow arctic oceans. Will try and send a few blogs while I am traveling, but I know we are going to be in remote locations so they will be a bit unpredictable. Getting my sleeping bag out again - Yep seems like I am camping again and this time in -4C. Yes the first time was a novelty, so this time not sure how it will all go, but up for it anyway. Will miss the kids and family, but back end of the month intime for the soccer finals!! Love to all and speak to you from the wild plans of Alaska LC xx

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


After a long day of travel, 3 plane rides and one dusty car and a charter plane, we finally landed at Tangura a private ranch in Malto Grosso to explore the only fire research centre in the Amazon Rainforest. We were all  a little bit nervous as we were going to participate in a fire experiment and film it at the same time. With the help of Prof Paolo Brando we headed off into the dry jungle with fuel tanks to set fire to a small area where they have been monitoring very precise burn-backs to determine the rainforests resilience to fire and to establish markers for modelling the future tipping points driven by fire. Bernice and Prof Cox both took to lighting the fire with the research crew and soon we were engulfed in flames and smoke - it was very hard to direct at this point, sign language at its best was all we had. The heat was extreme from a small area, and the smoke overwhelming.  The burn back was quickly put out and we all raced for cold water, and fresh air. Not to make light of this shoot, the importance of this research is understanding the trees and plants most resilience to fire to help the scientists to understand the future of this amazing rainforest. Hot but all safe. Liz x


Feeling like I have been hit by a semi trailer - fever, and bad gastro in the middle of the jungle, not a good look.  35 C but I spent the day under a rug...a visit by the local Shaman man Lola told me I needed to drink a herbal tea made from the young leaves of a Guava Plant.  He made up a special mixture and I  drank the tea the whole pot and within 30 mins I stared to feel better - amazing, just can't describe how fast I recovered from this. Such a simple solution - young Guava leaves! Next day I was back on my feet, a few kilos lighter ( good thing) and drinking the next mixture he delivered to me - filtered rice water. Feeling so much clearer, I took a walk in the nearby forest at night with the crew - it was pitch dark, lots of moving shadows, and rustling of leaves. I don't remember this being my idea or even a good idea..I called the shoot to an end and hurried back to the camp - looked for a jaguar but to no avails. Heading back to civilisation in the morning, will be visiting a nearby remote village, before our 32 hour boat trip back down the river to Belem. The howler monkeys keep howling all night, starting to get use to them - just a little bit uneasy when going to sleep as there are no doors on our rooms, and I wonder if I am going to wake up to a monkey bouncing on the bunk bed!! Sleeping under a mosquito net, surprisingly only a few bugs...just have to check your bed for scorpions at night and your shoes in the morning! LC