Is Music the Key to Climate Change?


By Maeve Hogel

A week ago today, we had the opportunity to spend two days in Washington D.C., listening to and learning from many incredible people working in the climate change field. By the end of the second day, I was exhausted and my attention span had been shot. However, our last speaker, Keya Chatterjee from the WWF, said something that caught my attention and has kept me thinking since then. She said that information doesn’t change people. She explained that those people out there who still don’t believe in climate change have already seen the graphs and the statistics and presenting them with more information won’t make them a believer. So then what can we do to get people to care about climate change? According to Keya, the answer lies in music, movies and T.V.

Music, historically, has been a powerful medium to represent cultures and time periods. Recently it has been used to make much more obvious political statements. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis played their hit Same Love at the 2014 Grammys, showing their support for equal marriage to an audience 28.5 million viewers. Similarly, Puerto Rican band Calle 13 has spread the word about the struggles in Latin America through many of their songs, including their recent release of El Aguante. Meaning ‘Endurance’ in English, the song discusses all of the things humans have endured through, from Pompeii to Hitler to Hiroshima. However, despite a comment about severe weather events and a jab at Monsanto, environmental issues are left out of Calle 13’s new song. Which leads to me ask, is the issue of climate change not conducive to songs and movies or do people just not care enough to talk about it in those mediums yet?

My guess is the second. I still think information is important; I firmly believe that education is a key component of solutions to most problems. However, when it comes to climate change, there seems to be a whole lot of people who know the information, but just don’t really care. People do, however, care a lot about music, movies and T.V.



DC Trip – A Wide Array of Climate Change

Last week the members of Dickinson’s Climate Change Mosaic was lucky enough to engage in valuable discussions with a wide range of climate change related actors, including: Tom Lovejoy, Bill Breed, John Holdren, Jacob Scherr, Mike MacCraken, Mike MacCracken, Dallas Butraw and many other highly regarded individuals. Although these private, public and governmental actors had careers focused in differentiated climate-related fields, their talks involved a common expected theme.  This theme was the how to approach future issues surrounding with climate change and it’s governance.
In which, Lovejoy’s solution was to restore vegetation, allowing for carbon sequestration through natural processes. Lovejoy explained that if restoration is implemented at a large scale, global temperatures could decrease by 0.6 degrees.  One of his recommended mechanism was for everyone to plant a tree, allowing for carbon sequestration.  Whereas Daniel Reifsnyder’s solutions consisted of closing the divide between developed and developing countries in the Paris’s agreement by requiring global participation with the right commitments.  Jacob Sherr highlighted the importance of addressing the climate change crisis with “new architecture”. The “new architecture” consisted of having a mixed-track approach towards climate change governance due the need to engage multiple players around the globe.   MacCraken focused on the benefits from completely cutting out long-term greenhouse gases, such as methane and black carbon.  These gases stay in the atmosphere longer than CO2 and IPCC currently does not deal with the effects from black carbon. Keya Chatterjee encouraged the switch to solar energy for it was cheaper than diesel (in some areas of the world).  She also discussed the need to engage the public through music and other sources of media to create global involvement. Overall, each speaker had influential ideas and thoughts on the varying issues surrounding climate change. It was evident that in order to approach climate change, actors from various fields need to come together to tackle the differentiating issues.

Artistic Expressions of Climate Change

james balog web

When photographer and climate scientist James Balog visited Dickinson College a few weeks ago, our community was introduced to a new way of looking at climate issues in a means expressed through art. Balog expresses his concerns of climate change in the best way he knows possible, through his photography. His work was so stunning and moving that the movie Chasing Ice was made to motivate society and create a sense of urgency in calling for action.

Furthermore, on Monday October 20th and Tuesday October 21st, the mosaic group spent time in Washington DC listening to many guest speakers with several different backgrounds. Our last speaker, Keya Chatterjee, of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had a very optimistic and positive aspect on the direction that the climate change movement is headed. She mentioned the power of art and music in modern society and suggested that maybe if climate concerns were expressed though different forms of art that this might have a monumental affect on modern society.

The New York Times article, “Extreme Weather” Explores the Climate Fight As a Family Feud, by Andrew C. Revkin, talks about the play “Extreme Weather”. Play writer Karen Maldpede, uses  “theater to explore the clashing passions around human-driven global warming and our fossil fuel fixation” (Revkin). Included in this article is a video of author Andrew Revkin singing his song “Liberated Carbon”, listening to this song for the first time made me chuckle; the idea of climate change expressed though song is such a foreign concept to me.

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