Environmentalism has a long-standing image problem: Mention “saving” nature, and people still think about protecting wilderness for the sake of pristine views rather than the fact that humans rely on nature for survival. A new series of short films was created to remind us that nature isn’t somehow separate from human lives. Rather, saving nature is saving ourselves.
Here’s Harrison Ford as the voice of the ocean, in one of the films from the Nature as Speaking series from Conservation International:
“Nature has lost its relevance to our everyday lives, and when that happens, it will only be something that we think about when we have dealt with all our other pressing problems,” says Dr. M. Sanjayan, Conservation International’s executive vice president and senior scientist. “We think that’s a mistake and we want to remind people that nature provides virtually everything we need to thrive and survive. We are inextricably linked to nature.”
The film challenges the idea that nature is fragile that needs our protection for its own sake. Harrison Ford’s ocean is angry; Kevin Spacey’s rainforest character is sarcastic.
“In our series, nature is strong and powerful–and that is contrary to prevailing stereotypical views,” says Sanjayan. “Nature has been here for billions of years and has survived and will continue to survive and evolve. It is humans who have been on the planet for a tiny fraction of time—who are at risk here.”
The films also avoid stereotypical images of a destroyed planet. “So, no deforested lands, no marine debris, no dead animals, etc.,” says Sanjayan. “You rarely see the destruction of the planet and when you do it’s only in a glimpse. That was by design. It is the series’ beautiful blue chip awe inspiring visuals, combined with a slightly subversive and contrarian narration that makes the films so watchable.”
Created by the famed ad agency TBWA, the films don’t ever talk about Conservation International’s work. “One of the clever things about this campaign is that it doesn’t tell people how great CI is or what we are doing around the world,” explains Sanjayan. “Instead it allows people, communities, companies, and even governments to tell their own story of sustainability.”
“We think there are great stories to be told and great momentum to be created,” he adds. “By giving people a hook or a platform to tell their stories, we think we can move the conversation further faster.”