FEATURE: Global Warning: Why Music Needs to Do More to Raise Awareness Regarding Climate Change




Global Warning


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Why Music Needs to Do More to Raise Awareness Regarding Climate Change


MANY have been reacting to the unseasonably warm weather...

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with delight and relief. It is unusual to see temperatures so warm in February but, even though seasonal change happens and we have seen snow in April before, we have never witnessed anything like the weather we have done this week in February! Things will return to near-normal by Thursday but many are worried about the spike in temperature and what it forecasts. It is, as WIRED investigated, hard to pin the warm weather here on climate change:

Tuesday is likely to be hotter still. Great news for ice cream vans – but is this unseasonably warm weather a sign of climate change? In short, no. Scientists rightly avoid drawing a direct link between climate and weather. An unseasonably warm or cold day, month or even year cannot, and should not, be linked directly to climate change. But, in combination with an unending stream of extreme and unusual weather, it forms part of an unnerving live ticker of our planet’s destruction.

Scientists, of course, need more proof. But the general public really don’t. Climate change is happening all around us. Understanding specifically how and why it’s happening is a major academic and political challenge. But if you’re sitting around waiting for a The Day After Tomorrow apocalypse, it ain’t going to happen like that – though wait a few more years and your seaside villa will likely be in the sea.

Climate change will very likely produce more extreme weather in the future. This time last year, the UK was in the grip of the Beast from the East, with record-breaking cold and widespread snowfall bringing much of the country to a standstill. Fast forward 12 months and it’s picnic weather”.


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Even if this freak warm blast is the result of changing air and not directly linked to global warming, it is clear there is a larger issue regarding the environment and what we are doing to the world. Look at this report that has emerged and the man-made impact on global warming is clear: we are damaging the planet and not doing a lot to reverse things.

Evidence for man-made global warming has reached a “gold standard” level of certainty, adding pressure for cuts in greenhouse gases to limit rising temperatures, scientists said on Monday.

“Humanity cannot afford to ignore such clear signals,” the U.S.-led team wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change of satellite measurements of rising temperatures over the past 40 years.

They said confidence that human activities were raising the heat at the Earth’s surface had reached a “five-sigma” level, a statistical gauge meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance that the signal would appear if there was no warming”.

We cannot deny there is a crisis and the predictions are bleak. What will become of our arctic regions in years to come? Will they be able to sustain life and what about our oceans? As the temperatures climb, the fate of sea life grows unsure and the general weather patterns suggest there will be a lot more extreme weathers. Whether that means far less rain or much warmer summers, the impact it will have on the planet is obvious.

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Many of us are being more conscientious when it comes to our carbon footprint and are using public transport more. We are, in many cases, using less plastic and trying to be aware of what is happening. So much damage has already been done and one wonders how it will impact this generation – let alone ones to come! Whereas major leaders such as President Trump are ignorant regarding global warming and its effects – he doesn’t even believe it is a thing! – there are conservation groups and figures calling for change and reaction. They are doing all they can but is there a role for music?! I feel music, as a means of delivery, can engage with the entire world and raise awareness. Think about the common staple of huge artists and it does not extend much beyond love and personal woes. I am seeing more artists talking about social matters and political issues and that is good to see. When you get a musician discussing Brexit and the wealth divide in the country then it makes people stand up and listen. I have often said musicians hold more power and credibility than most politicians! I am not saying music will be the saviour of the planet but there is an opportunity and need for artists to start talking about the environment. I cannot think of a song/album recently that has addressed climate change – maybe there are some out there but nothing in the mainstream.

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I feel the arts world holds a lot of influence and its power is obvious. Musicians talk about all manner of things – from sexual politics and racism to warfare – but how often do we hear anything about climate change and how we are damaging the planet?! Maybe it would be hard to articulate a song that provides facts and measures in which we can improve things. If an artist can discuss tough subjects through music then climate change should not be too hard. In fact, not that many are speaking out in general and I think this is a chance missed. The declining state of the planet is something that affects us all and should not be overlooked. I do think there should be more songs and albums that talk about climate change and how it is impacting the world. I feel a concept album around that very thing would be an eye-opener. I know, in the back of my mind, someone has done that before but I cannot think who. That said, how much awareness could we raise is a big Pop artist brought out a song that warned us about the perils of global warming?! I think that would be huge and a refreshing change at the same time. As more mainstream artists talk about mental-health and meatier issues, I feel the environment and our sustainability is something that is receiving very little focus.


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The facts are out there and research is being done all of the time. It does not need to be as dramatic as Michael Jackson’s Earth Song – and its sobering video – but we have reached a point where many say we cannot recover. Perhaps our recent spring-like weather is not a sign of increased global warming but it has freaked a lot of people out. The huge changes in weather – this time last year we saw snow sweep the U.K. – should provide pause for thought and I do wonder whether we are all doing enough. I think music should be more than personal concerns and has this immense power. It is not pandering and preaching if we see artists talking about climate change and it can actually lead to change. Maybe a Live Aid-style concert that would raise funds for conservation charities would also be a smart move. I am concerned we are hearing very few musicians, in interviews or on their songs, highlight the plight of the planet and what we all need to do. The potential worst to come is not hundreds of years away: many are predicting catastrophic weather and destruction can affect us in the next couple of decades. We are already seeing the icecaps melt and natural disasters killing scores of people; fires wiping out towns and leaders like Trump turning their backs. Things are pretty bleak and musicians have a duty to get involved.


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If we leave it all to charities and experts then how is that being responsible and aware? Many people avoid academic studies as they find them too dry and complex. Musicians would not need to dumb down the facts and realities but, in a way, make them more accessible to many. I feel we have come to this stage where it is getting hard to unpick the damage caused and we may go past the point of no return. I think music should tackle EVERY important issue – from migration and inequality through to L.G.B.T.Q. + awareness and civil rights – and the state of our planet should rank pretty high! The more we can mobilise people and bring the realities home then the quicker we can work together to do something about it. I do worry about the future and what impact will be felt in a few decades from now – will there be a huge loss of life to humans and wildlife alike? We, as humans, are doing the damage and it is down to us to fix up the crap we have left. Whether we listen to meteorologists, scientists or politicians, I feel we cannot ignore and stand by as we turn our backs on what is happening. Musicians should be as involved as they can and I do think more should be addressing global warming in their music. Even if a single artist records an album that puts the focus on our changing climate and what we can all do to help then I think that can make...

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AN important difference.