In 2014, Conservation International, an environmental organisation focused on combating climate change, launched the Nature is Speaking initiative, an admonition from the environment to humans to quit their deleterious activities or face the consequences of their actions.
The second of seven Nature is Speaking videos released on YouTube featured Mother Nature voiced by Julia Roberts. In an indifferent tone, Mother Nature casually reminded humans she has existed for “over four and a half billion years, twenty-two thousand five hundred times longer than you”, so doesn’t need them to survive. She went on to add, “whether you regard or disregard me doesn’t really matter to me [because] one way or the other your actions will determine your fate not mine.”
While the campaign carried a weighted urgency, it's hard to say it swayed climate-change deniers—assuming they watched the videos, or compelled errant governments to reconsider their climate policies. As it stands, 2016 was the hottest year on record and the first time the hottest year on record occurred three times in a row, according to climate scientists. In fact, since record-keeping began in 1880, 16 of the 17 hottest years have occurred in this century. Yet certain quarters continue to dismiss these scientific facts as figments of the liberal elite’s imagination.
Consider U.S. President Trump’s administration’s troubling posture on climate change. In their unrelenting pursuit of 'alternative facts', they instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delete the climate change page from its official website. The directive, a reflection of Trump’s claims that climate change is a hoax, and the president's nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Priutt to head the EPA, which he sued fourteen times, seem to signal reducing carbon emission and other environmental concerns won’t be a priority for the next four years.
Lest we forget, as the world’s second largest polluter, America’s climate policy affects every nation because it's the same air and water circulating around the earth. And due to that commonality, places like Africa, where greenhouse gas emissions are the lowest, can’t escape the brunt of global warming. On a continent where 96% of farmlands rely on rainwater, one can imagine the cascading effects of unreliable rainfall: poor crop yield; lost wages; malnutrition; conflicts; migration.
And in recent times immigration has become a knife in the flesh of the West, which, by the way, consists of some of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases. If in coming years global warming isn’t given the gravitas it deserves, Westerners might soon be dealing with a larger influx of refugees than they currently are, or perhaps become environmental migrants themselves.
Walls and stringent immigration policies will only go so far should Mother Nature strike. For this reason, it would behove us to heed Harrison Ford's stern warning as the ocean: “Humans, I don’t owe them a thing. I give, they take. But I can always take back... It's not their planet anyway. Never was. Never will be... If humans want to exist in nature with me and off of me, I suggest they listen close. I’m only going to say this once. If nature isn’t kept healthy humans won’t survive. Simple as that. Me, I couldn’t give a damn with or without humans. I am the ocean. I covered this entire planet once and I can always cover it again. That’s all I have to say.”
Lead Photo: Lac Rose, Senegal/Shayera Dark