What If Mother Nature Takes a Selfie?

by Roger Jay L. De Vela, Philippines, ELP 2014
Written on July 20, 2014.

Get up from bed, take my shower, have my breakfast, go to work, attend a meeting, talk to my boss, eat out with friends, party and stay late tonight…These are what I ought to do today…”But wait, Let me take a SELFIE first”.

A lot of young people, and perhaps even old, or those probably who can’t help it for some reasons, can relate with me about this selfie stuff. This recent addition to our vocabulary is a depiction of how our behavior has changed as a result of the advances in our technology and the prominence of social networking. When we said goodbye to film-based cameras and smiled hello to digital ones, it has become easier for us to take an infinite amount of photos of ourselves. Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter furthered our interest of selfies as they allowed and enabled sharing of photos to a wide array of people, they call followers, all over the globe.

I am a young guy fascinated with selfies or with taking photos of myself in general. This is probably a cohort characteristic you’ll get when you also love traveling and adventures. In fact, I bought a monopod for my trip in the US and I find it very useful because it captures not just my face but even a small part of my backdrop. As such, when I post my photo on Facebook, my followers will see not just my charming smile but also the place where I am. Usually, I share photos of me in beautiful backgrounds of the places I’ve been to. Since I don’t have such a highly sophisticated camera similar to what professional photographers use, I enhance my own photos by filtering them before finally publishing in Facebook and other social networking sites. This is one thing that makes me happy as a traveller, being able to share with people not just what I’m doing and where I’ve been but also my thoughts that will make them learn a lesson or at least leave them thinking. Seeing my photos being liked by my friends means a lot to me. And I guess that’s how it is for others who also love taking selfies.

When I saw the Science Sphere at Point Reyes in one of our field trips in the ELP Program, I was stunned at how the world, no matter how huge, can still be seen as a small piece of thing suspended in our galaxy. I was surprised by the enormous amount of information I learned about our world. This brought me into thinking… Apart from inspiring me to continue on improving my craft and passion to be an environmental leader, I was trying to imagine what nature would look like if Mother Nature takes a selfie and posts it on the web for everyone to see.

This is what I imagine to see in Mother Nature’s selfies: (1) People getting sick and more people dying because of their reduced capacity to cope with the increasing atmospheric temperature and its accompanying adverse effects; (2) Agricultural lands left unattended and unproductive due to droughts, leading to unemployment of a significant portion of the world’s population, worsening food insecurity and poverty around the world; (3) Wilder weather and changing rain and snow patterns, causing typhoons and other natural calamities in many parts of the world; (4) Reduced marine biodiversity due to warmer oceans and its increased acidity, which in turn affects the lives of those depending on the ocean for livelihood; and (5) Coastal communities displaced due to the rising seawater level. These things are what I imagine Mother Nature would like us to see if she takes a selfie. They all depict how the world looks like with this climate change occurring at a pace unimagineable and at a rate difficult to cope with. All these things will surely worsen the intergenerational problem of poverty all over.

All these things describe a harder life for mankind. More social conflicts resulting to deadly wars may be the worst outcome climate change may bring to this planet…people losing their culture, values and natural goodness just to SURVIVE.

These things, unlike the selfies I post to facebook, are unlikeable. But these are unfiltered selfies…unedited photos of nature and the world…undistorted realities we call TRUTH. This is probably one of those truths that really hurt. Who caused this? The answer is not your government, not the capitalists making the products that we consume, not our neighbors who keep on burning their trash, not your cab driver who keeps on using unfriendly fuel…It’s all of us. A great deal of what we have, good or bad, is caused by ourselves.

These selfies that Mother Nature would take and post will be reminders of a huge challenge we have to face, a world we have to change, people we have to educate and motivate, and the many other things that we have to do to make sure that the PLANET we have today will still be useful and habitable in the many centuries to come. We may not own the far FUTURE, but we owe that to our sons and daughters, our grandsons and granddaughters and to the many generations that will follow them.