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Nature Is Speaking in New, Star-Studded Campaign ... and She Is Not Amused

As Julia Roberts (as “Mother Nature”) chillingly points out at the end of her rant against the human race in Conservation International (CI)’s new Nature Is Speaking campaign: “I am prepared to evolve. Are you?”

Nature doesn't need people. People need nature. That's the message of the provocative, celebrity-studded campaign that CI is launching today. Nature Is Speaking aims to raise awareness that people need nature in order to survive.

The campaign features a series of short films voiced by Hollywood elite including Penélope Cruz, Harrison Ford (who is also CI’s Vice Chairman), Edward Norton, Robert Redford, Ian Somerhalder and Kevin Spacey. In the series, Nature reveals serious misgivings about the way humans are treating the Earth from the viewpoint of a cast of characters — from Mother Nature to The Ocean to The Rainforest.

"I have fed species greater than you, and I have starved species greater than you … Your actions will determine your fate — not mine," Roberts’ "Mother Nature" says in the first film of the series.

“Humans making air … that’ll be fun to watch,” says Spacey as the snarky Rainforest.

"The environmental movement has missed the mark when talking about nature because it tends to present nature as something that is separate from people," said Dr. M. Sanjayan, CI's EVP and senior scientist. "By making it clear that people need nature to survive, we are turning the conversation around and making the movement relevant to entirely new audiences."

Conservation International worked with the Audience Behavior Lab (ABL), a division of TBWA\Media Arts Lab, to create the campaign under the creative direction of TBWA\MAL Chairman, Lee Clow.

"We thought the idea of giving nature a voice, nature having been around billions of years longer than humans, might make it clear to all of us that the planet will evolve with or without humans. It's our choice," said Clow.

"The future of nature is the future of us," said CI Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann. "Take climate change — one important way nature is speaking to us right here, right now. And as nearly 400,000 New York City marchers recently amplified, how we respond will determine our future. Our message is simple: Nature doesn't need people. People need nature."

Recent polling suggests the campaign is particularly well-timed and needed. According to an American Psychological Association survey of high school seniors and college freshmen, younger Americans are less interested than ever in the environment and taking action to save nature. Only 20 percent of those surveyed from 2000-2009 expressed interest in involving themselves in cleaning up the environment.

Yet Gallup suggests public opinion might be on the cusp of turning in favor of the environment. Americans are now more likely to say that the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth. According to Gallup, this is the first time since the economic downturn of 2009 (except immediately following the BP oil spill in 2010) that Americans said they prioritized the environment.

The films are debuting this week online and at SXSW Eco in Austin, Texas. Seligmann, Clow and Sanjayan will discuss the campaign at a SXSW Eco panel on October 8.

To actively engage audiences in the conversation about the vital links between nature and human well-being, the films invite viewers to join the discussion by using #NatureIsSpeaking and each of the films' Twitter handles (below).

HP has agreed to donate $1 to Conservation International, up to $1 million, for every use of #NatureIsSpeaking on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, G+, Vine, LinkedIn, YouTube and Tumblr. In addition, HP has provided CI with HP Explore technology to track the spread of #NatureIsSpeaking and to monitor the conversation about nature happening online.

"Over the past two years, HP has been working with Conservation International on Earth Insights, an initiative that creates an early warning system for threatened species and enables us to better listen to nature," said Gabi Zedlmayer, VP and Chief Progress Officer at HP. "Now, through the Nature Is Speaking campaign, we are encouraging people to connect with what nature is saying and spark a conversation that will create a better future for everyone."

In conjunction with each film, CI will publish a post to its Human Nature blog page, which will feature insights from its executive leaders, field directors and scientists. These weekly posts will highlight CI's global conservation efforts that directly address the issues showcased in the Nature Is Speaking films.

Each week, a new character film will be highlighted on the Conservation International website. The film schedule is:

  • October 6: Mother Nature (@MotherNature_CI, played by Julia Roberts)
  • October 13: The Ocean (@Ocean_CI, played by Harrison Ford)
  • October 20: The Rainforest (@Rainforest_CI, played by Kevin Spacey)
  • October 27: The Soil (@Soil_CI, played by Edward Norton)
  • November 3: Water (@Water_CI, played by Penelope Cruz)
  • November 10: The Redwood (@Redwood_CI, played by Robert Redford)
  • TBD: Coral Reef (@CoralReef_CI, played by Ian Somerhalder)

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