As many of you may be aware, Conservation International launched an ad campaign featuring the voice of actress, Julia Roberts. I take strong exception to both the message of the campaign and its contradictory presumption that an actress can speak for mother nature.
The message that I take exception with is the representation of mother nature saying, “I don’t really need people, but people need me.” The message presumes that human beings are not a part of mother nature; and that nature and people are not one. The message perpetuates the notion that people are nature’s adversary and therefore should not seek to live in harmony with all things. After all, the message seems to imply, if human beings aren’t important then their actions are not relevant or contributory to nature.
The more insidious aspect of the message is the anthropomorphizing of nature. The message has mother nature arrogantly proclaiming, “I have starved species greater than you.” This sounds to me like the voice of a compassionless, self-centered adolescent, rather the voice of a wise mother who cares about her children.
The ad missed the opportunity to cast nature and people as part of the infinite whole and thereby communicate that we are in this together; that we need to care for one another and the world that we live in. Its conclusion is both scientifically and morally flawed. Having mother nature proclaim, “Your actions will determine your fate, not mine.” is patently false. The actions of people everywhere have everything to do with the fate of nature. I need not chronicle here how the misuse of chemical DDT nearly caused the extinction of many species of birds, or how the fate of the buffalo and the carrier pigeon were determined by the actions of people.
Finally, mother nature proudly states, “I am nature. I will go on. I am prepared to evolve, are you?” This sounds as if evolution is a willful thing, rather than a process of nature that involves the interaction of many species and environmental factors. The ad does more to shine a light on the arrogant, self-centered, elitist and exclusionary attitude of many well meaning, if misguided environmental groups, than it does to inspire people to embrace nature as one would embrace a loving mother. It is a shame that CI chose to use their considerable resources to send a message of division, rather than a message that communicates that we are all part of nature and should behave in a manner that promotes unity and respect among all species.