Environment Week 2014: “Some call me nature. Others call me Mother Nature”

What would Mother Nature say?

” Some call me Nature, others call me mother nature

I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years

Twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you

I don’t really need people but people need me

Yes, your future depends on me

When I thrive, you thrive

When I falter, you falter or worse (?)

But I’ve been here for aeons

I have fed species greater than you, and

I have starved species greater than you

My oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests,

They all can take you or leave you

How you chose to live each day whether you regard or

disregard me doesn’t really matter to me

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?”

If Nature could talk, what would it say? We’ve all been told by the media, our teachers, our lecturers and our friends and family that we are changing the very fabric of the planet in which we live. We all have been informed of the growing concerns over our future use of resources and the dangers we shall face in a changing world. But what if we turn all that on its head? What if we could hear what nature had to say on the matter?

Last month Conservation International released a series of seven YouTube videos that give voice to Nature. We hear from Mother Nature, Water, the Coral Reef, The Ocean, The Soil, The Rainforest and The Redwood and the message is loud and clear. Nature will go on.

While we are focussing on the effects that climate change and the numerous other human impacts on the natural order, we are missing the far bigger picture. As the videos remind us, humans are insignificant in the face of a planet that has survived through six billion years of changing climatic conditions. After all, we live on a planet than has survived the big bang and given birth to millions of life forms from a sphere of lifeless rock. We constantly applaud ourselves for the feats that humankind has reached. We invented the light bulb, discovered penicillin, launched space shuttles straight out of the atmosphere, built buildings so high they pierce through the cloud cover and yet we have nothing on the credentials of Mother Nature. Whether you believe in a Creator or not, the establishment of life on our little planet is truly incredible. To think that of all the planets in all the universe, life somehow managed to grip hold of the Earth’s early environment and remain there for billions of years. It is absolutely phenomenal. Nature has powered on through times of drought and inundation, though extreme heat and extreme cold. It even managed to pull though those 170 million years or so when the planet was totally engulfed in ice form pole to pole. We find life in the most inhospitable of Earth’s nooks and crannies; creatures dwelling in the forbidding depths of our oceans and bacteria somehow living out its life story in lakes sealed beneath kilometres of Antarctic ice sheet.

While we are right to celebrate the achievements of the human race. we must accept that humans really are a blip in the rich history of this third planet from the Sun and this is brought home by Conservation International’s ‘Nature Is Speaking’ series.

It seem entirely fitting that these videos are narrated by some of the biggest names of the film industry: Harrison Ford; Penelope Cruz; Kevin Spacey; Edward Norton; Robert Redford; Ian Somerhalder and Julia Roberts. Through the gravitas of these well known voices, we are able to imagine the power of the natural world. We may have volume after volume of history books documenting human’s exponential progress but what Conservation International remind us is that we are a dispensable part of the Earth’s system. We may choose to spend our days throwing carbon dioxide around like confetti but, generations down the line, it will always be Nature that has the last laugh. If we do not give the planet the respect it deserves, there will be a point when humans will have wrecked the resources so badly that our great civilisation, like so many before it, will collapse.

The videos are not full of empty words. As Julia Roberts’ voice rings out, we would not be the first or greatest of species to be extinguished by Nature. There have been five periods of mass extinction in the past (and some say we are heading for a sixth) and after each one Nature has persisted unblinking and ever-evolving from the loss. Nor, by any means, would it be the first time human populations have crashed at the feet of the natural environment. One could argue that, unlike the Mayans of the Clovis people, we have technology on our side to prevent civilisation collapse. This is, of course, true but depends entirely on how this technology is used. Humankind is fabulous but we need to put our heads together and use our immense thinking capacity to find a solution, or at least a compromise, that will allow us to continue to maintain a natural order in which we can still be supported hundreds of years into the future. Nature is ready to evolve. Are we?

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