Updated: Sep 27, 2022
What is our documentary about? The film is all about how the historical financial centre of the world, not New York, but the City of London, is for most part, responsible for much of the environmental degradation being experienced around the world. It's told in a satirical and ironic way that helps one pay attention.
I first came across how humans are destroying our planet was when my father told me about the Himalayas. I was only about 14 years of age. The Himalayas of his youth in the 1930s were full of forests. After 1946 the forests in the foothills began to decline. It was a sign to me that something was wrong. It got me thinking about planet Earth and its resources. What we take, make and throw away, recycle or destroy. Air pollution seemed to me the biggest problem. It affected my lungs as I had experienced it in London. After my sojourn for 12 years in the film business in Elstree and Hollywood, I returned to England. I changed my career. I entered the renewable energy business. I worked on inventions and businesses. I added a Climate Change & Sustainable Development Masters degree to my history degree. From all this I learned more and more about the world. Yet these courses were unsatisfying. They seemed to blame politicians, economics and population growth. To me this seemed wrong.
I started to investigate why humans were able to deforest large areas of rainforests. I looked at pollution. I delved into the world of human exploitation. I examined what was behind the development of filthy industrial processes.
What was more worrying was that over and over again one small area in London seemed to be behind everything. In fact research soon provided me a whole host of evidence. This linked the City of London to the destruction of the biosphere. The biosphere is what we all live in. If the Earth was the size of an apple, the biosphere would be the skin where all living things existed.
What was more interesting was the journey our money takes all the time to help destroy our planet. Pollution isn't intentional. It's a consequence of meeting a demand, and not having the morals or legal influences to prevent it. This problem: ethics versus laws is at the heart of our film. It's what makes it tick.
My ancestors had a long history dating back to 1757 of involvement in British India. I had three generations born in British India and those were the ones we knew about. From the early 1800s my namesake ancestor had run a coal mine in Scotland, and owned vast areas in Yorkshire. He also had houses in Dumfries and Sevenoaks. He was a lawyer and had managed to make a fortune that he later invested in major housing projects in London. That was a period of the beginning phase of industrialisation and the growth of a vast empire.
The generations that followed were in the East India Company. After its demise one of them went into the government operating a vast spy network. This network was unofficial, always off the books. He regulated the flow of arms to tribes from European powers. His organisation undermined the Russians bid to take Afghanistan or India by invasion. He made connections with the Japanese and Germans to keep Russia on the backfoot.
Without this knowledge I would have been unable to see how the city developed over time. In particular the growth of informal networks outside of government control. How key people can have a massive influence for example.
The City of London and the East India Company were at one time connected. Only during the 1776 American revolution did they fall out. That was when the city financiers supported the American revolutionaries! The British empire slowly came to dominate the world. This occurred in neighbouring territories which although not under political control, could be manipulated by investment and opportunity to do the British businessmans bidding. This led to many problems including the growth of political anarchy in places like Argentina.
Former colonies are key to the story. Looking at maps of the earth of this long period of 1800 - 2000 one can see the deforestation of the Earth. Where there is deforestation there are animals losing their habitats. Most of these occur in former colonial possessions, such as India, Africa or North America. It also occurred in neighbouring areas with huge resources. These include Brazil, Argentina, parts of Africa and Indonesia.
Former island colonies also feature heavily in our film. That's a treat that we'll keep secret for now, and let our intrepid actress and film star Valery Danko explain in our film.
The World Stripped Bare came from a conversation I had with actress Valery Danko. She pointed out that it is emotion that keeps people interested in a subject, not facts. There are a whole host of documentary films that focus on facts. Whilst these might be of interest to a few people. most people find them dull and underwhelming. The trick is to get eyes on a film. The only way to do that is to use satire and sex appeal in an instagram style.
The original title of the first script, was scrapped. Jacqui Edwards took my notes, and started to work on a new script. Here we would use Valery in multiple roles. Our director was quickly onboard with the idea. The ability of Valery to perform multiple roles also helped us film it during lockdown. Covid-19 did prevent us from hitting our target time. However, it did help us gain creative insights to change our script and build a much better film. It now contains a story within a story.
THE WORLD STRIPPED BARE
Climate change is altering lives across the planet. It's no good simply hoping that people will do the right thing. As I write, the Right Hon. J Rees-Mogg, the UK business minister is bringing back fracking in the UK. This is despite no evidence that it will alter global gas prices. Every single word he uttered were pure lies, including quoting a grossly false report. This report casted doubt on environmentalists claims that fracking had damaged the environment. The overwhelming evidence for environmental damage by fracking is well documented. Fracking is also unsustainable and thus not a solution we can rely on. It's not even a good stop-gap. It does however offer fossil fuel, but it's not oil. If it was oil it would be naturally energy dense: packing a punch per weight and volume like no other. When we do this we have to seriously encroach on the the natural world. Nothing is cost free with fracking. The water alone is a nightmare given the dry summer we've had.
Similarly humans are encroaching on nature in other ways. They are thus moving into areas that place humans in contact with animal diseases. These become 'Spillover' diseases. They can be bacteria or viruses such as covid-19. This is obvious in places like China, India, Africa and South America. It is less obvious in the tundra of Asia or in Northern Canada. Why don't humans just live within their means? Why don't they do the right thing and find alternatives to fossil fuels?
To some extent they are, but they are doing this badly in a way that opens them up to ridicule. Wind power and terrestrial sunlight isn't available all the time 24/7. The wind doesn't alway blow. In northern climes the sun rarely pops its head above the horizon in winter when we need the energy most. We'll offer some hints on solutions to these problems.
People won't do the right thing on the causes of climate change because for most the impact is an existential threat. It's likely to be short term e.g. heatwave. It might kill your granny due to covid, but life goes on. You might have your house burned down, but most people live in cities not forests. When it burns your house down in a city, that's when people start to wonder! That happened in the outskirts of metropolitan London in 2022. Most of things you buy you never ever think about where the materials come from? It's not even a thing to worry about. People who support Black Lives Matter focus on statues of dead slavers. Meanwhile the very phone they use only exists on the back of modern day slaves in Africa. The hypocrisy is obvious. The ignorance is manifest. It's time to learn the truth...
The World Stripped Bare is about the future as well as the past. It will make you think about what happens to your money. What you buy will now mean something more to you. You won't be ignorant of where the lithium or cobalt comes from to make your phone work or your electric car run. You will realise that what you eat matters to the future. That's your future...