Mother Nature Is Speaking, and This Time You'd Better Listen

A new series of videos narrated by Lupita Nyong’o, Ian Somerhalder, Julia Roberts, and other actors is rebranding the environmental movement.
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    'Nature Is Speaking': 'Ice'
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    'Nature Is Speaking': 'Flower'
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    'Nature Is Speaking': 'Coral Reef'
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    'Nature Is Speaking': 'Mother Nature'
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    'The Rainforest' - Kevin Spacey
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    'Nature Is Speaking': 'The Redwood'
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    'Nature Is Speaking': 'The Ocean'
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    "Water" - Penélope Cruz
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    'The Soil' - Edward Norton
Oct 6, 2014·
Todd Woody is TakePart's editorial director, environment.

Now for some tough love from Mother Nature.

Conservation International has released a series of videos narrated by Robert Redford, Kevin Spacey, and other actors that are designed to send a blunt message about humans’ impact on the planet: “Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature.”

The two newest episodes explore the beauty and fragility of flowers and the coral reef. "Life does start with me, and it could end without me," intones Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fragrant and vitally important flower.
"One quarter of all marine life depends on me…yet you raised the temperature of the ocean so I can't live here anymore," Ian Somerhalder laments as he explains the coral reef.

Designed by advertising legend Lee Clow, who cocreated Apple’s seminal "1984" commercial, the Nature Is Speaking videos debuted on Monday morning at the opening of the SXSW Eco conference. The initial six videos are gorgeous montages of oceans, forests, and deserts delivered alongside a message that isn’t so pretty.

“I’ve been here for aeons. I have fed species greater than you, and I have starved species greater than you,” says Roberts in a tone that is chilling and utterly indifferent. “My oceans. My soil. My flowing streams. My forests. They all can take you. Or leave you.”

“How you choose to live each day, whether you regard or disregard me, doesn’t really matter to me,” she adds. “One way or the other, your actions will determine your fate, not mine. I am Nature. I will go on. I am prepared to evolve. Are you?”

And you really don't want to mess with The Ocean.

"It’s not their planet, anyway," growls Harrison Ford. "Never was. Never will be. But humans, they take more than their share. They poison me and then expect me to feed them. Well, it doesn’t work that way."

"I’m only going to say this once," he warns. "If nature isn’t kept healthy, humans won’t survive. Simple as that. I mean, I could give a damn. With or without humans, I’m The Ocean. I covered this entire planet once, and I can always cover it again."

C.I. leaders say Nature Is Speaking is an attempt to rebrand the green movement from one that treats the environment as something fragile and separate from humans to a force, well, of nature that will survive. Even if we don’t.

“Sure, some people are drawn to this idea, but they are far outnumbered by the number of people negatively impacted by the rapidity with which we are stripping our forests, mining our soils, drying up our water and fundamentally altering our planet’s atmosphere and ocean’s chemistry,” M. Sanjayan, an executive vice president and a senior scientist at C.I., wrote in a blog post. “Love alone is not enough; we need this place.”

The videos will be shown on Virgin America flights, Starwood Resorts will feature them on its hotel television network, and Pearl Jam will run the series at concerts, as will the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Nature Is Speaking also will be featured at the United Nations climate change conference in Lima, Peru, in December.

You've heard Nature before. Redford, appropriately enough, is The Redwood; Penélope Cruz is Water; Spacey is The Rainforest; Edward Norton is The Soil; Harrison Ford is The Ocean; Lupita Nyong’o is The Flower; and Ian Somerhalder is The Coral Reef.

“Our purpose here: Jolting folks with the message that saving nature is really about saving ourselves,” wrote Sanjayan.

Or as an iconic television commercial from the 1970s put it, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."