James Levelle’s work in the world’s wildest places, together with his extraordinary ‘impossible’ expeditions, has earned him uncommon understanding of both the beauty and power of Nature, as well as an unshakeable faith in humankind. He hitchhiked his way 6000 miles across South America with no mobile phone, no credit card, and no cash for Discovery Channel’s 6-part series, ‘Free Ride’ (2016). He trekked through the frozen wilds of Alaska for Discovery’s hit series ‘Gold Rush Trail’ (2017) and risked life and limb chasing hurricanes for the BBC’s ‘Hurricane Man’ (2018).
The following year, James sped 9000 miles from the UK to Chile… fossil fuel free… on his ‘Race for the Future’ expedition to document youth climate messages and deliver them in a film to the United Nations Climate conference.
James Levelle has featured in The Financial Times, The Telegraph and The Times newspapers, interviews on BBC Radio, he’s had the honour of presenting the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards at Buckingham Palace and hosted the Royal Foundation’s ‘Generation Earthshot Prize’ at the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow.
With his cheeky sense of humour and honest, engaging style James Levelle shares inspiring (sometimes terrifying) stories filled with pirates, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), hurricanes and human powered, zero cash, zero emission global adventures… and relates them to ‘real life’ in ways that offer helpful new perspectives on life’s problems. Problems that can also be solved by reconsidering our relationship with Nature and remembering how ‘wild’ conjures that sense of wonder, curiosity, creativity and adventure in each of us.
In the summer of 2018, the third most intense hurricane to ever strike the United States very nearly killed him. It’s a long and terrifying story but ultimately Hurricane Michael struck harder and faster than predicted, tearing down trees and power pylons, blocking his road home to shelter. He survived by jumping in the cab of a fire truck as buildings collapsed around him.
Hurricanes are a natural phenomenon, but with climate change extreme weather events are now more frequent and, in many cases, more deadly. This was climate chaos at its most extreme. It rocked him to his core and left him feeling completely powerless.
But what could he, as an adventurer and filmmaker, possibly do to make a positive impact on the climate crisis?
‘Race For The Future’ was an answer inspired by the birth of the youth climate movement and the millions of next-generation activists that took to the streets to protest. A fossil fuel-free global attempt to share that inspiration and amplify their voices in a film that he would deliver to the United Nations Climate Conference in Chile… if he could get there in time.
James likes to live life on the wild side. He cut his teeth in documentary making exposing child trafficking and deadly pesticide use in India, and then capturing illegal pirate fishermen off the coast of war-torn West Africa. National Geographic then sent him undercover to take on the illegal gangs poaching India’s wild tigers for ‘Eco Crime Investigators’ which brought him face to face with a massive male tiger. For Discovery Channel’s ‘Free Ride’ he successfully travelled over 6000 miles, through six South American countries without a penny in his pocket, and then trekked through the frozen wilds of Alaska for hit series ‘Gold Rush Trail’.
His most deadly mission yet meant risking life and limb chasing hurricanes for the BBC’s, ‘Hurricane Man’. After very nearly dying in the third most powerful hurricane in American history James had to re-evaluate everything.
He found purpose in his greatest adventure yet, ‘Race for the Future’, during which James sped 9000 miles from the UK to Chile… fossil fuel free… on a mission to document youth climate messages and deliver them in a film to the United Nations Climate conference.
James is fascinated by how the spirit of adventure and the power of story can be combined to help us explore, experience, and better understand our vital relationship with self, with our fellow humans and the Natural World.
“Thank you for your contribution to the Society’s Spring 2023 Monday Night Lecture series. Your lecture clearly captivated the audience with the extraordinary expeditions you have undertaken. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of them book onto your regional tour dates!”
"As guest presenter at our Gold Award Presentation, James was asked to hand out certificates on behalf of HRH The Earl of Wessex to over a 100 young people and to give a congratulatory speech sharing some of his own experiences followed by questions and answers. It was an absolute privilege to meet James and the young people were clearly very inspired by his talk… We hope we can entice him back in the future.”
“James gave an exhilarating talk illustrated by some breath taking video and still photographs. His passion and commitment to his expeditions to many parts of the world and his documentary making in the cause of social justice and humanitarian and ecological issues was obvious. What was so special and different, however, was his enthusiasm for those causes and his belief that, despite everything, humankind has a goodness about it that we need to nurture."
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