From the sounds of melting glaciers to imagining three climate futures, a new sonic exploration of Earth seems to offer a visceral warning and call to action against climate change. It will premiere at the University of British Columbia this month.
Cancel flights. Do not heat your houses on summer nights.
“Isn’t it worth your kids having the time?” »
These are some of the messages woven through a new sonic exploration of planet Earth that will be unveiled at a live concert at the University of British Columbia this month.
Dubbed ‘Sounds of Earth’, this unique collaboration brought together the university’s musicians and composers with volcanologists, geochemists and atmospheric scientists to tell five unique stories about the history and future of a world mutating.
In one score, a brass quintet combines its sound with the actual audio of melting glaciers to evoke their inevitable decline; in another, titled Three Degrees, a pianist and singer imagine three climate futures, from temperate change to global catastrophe.
“We wanted to think of a cool way to talk about climate change that wasn’t a graph or a paper with a big red arrow pointing to the future,” said Ruth Moore, a climatologist who studies the amplification of global warming in the world. Western Canadian Arctic.
“Music is one of the most powerful ways to move people. When you can hear it in your body and feel it in your mind, we hope it sticks with people longer than a scary graphic.
Moore, who is from Ireland, said she played music as a child. But this time around, her role has been as science advisor on Three Degrees, helping to inspire the song’s climate scenarios and guiding it to focus on people.
In a verse, composer Ben Ledocohwski winks at the story of Guy Callendar, a Canadian-born Englishman and steam engineer, who in 1938 was among the first to directly link rising atmospheric carbon levels to global warming.
“I saw the warning signs. I was an amateur, but only I could predict the decline,” the lyrics read. “Then it was 1938, and now it’s 2022. Why do we repudiate what’s true? It’s true, it’s true. Now it’s up to you to decide.
As atmospheric scientist Rachel White, who also collaborated on the song Three Degrees, said, “Who’s going to be impacted? These are the children.
“They’re going to see the biggest impacts and they’re not the ones making the decisions now.”
White moved to Vancouver to study in 2020 to research how high-level atmospheric winds connect to extreme weather events and how that relationship might change due to human-caused warming.
White had no idea she would experience such events in the coming year.
When the record-breaking heat dome hit British Columbia in June 2021, White rushed to buy an air conditioner for her family. But it wasn’t enough.
“I ended up sleeping in my backyard in a tent because my room couldn’t cool down,” she said.
While such periods of extreme weather can serve as a window into what’s to come, it’s nearly impossible to feel the difference between weather and climate, White said.
“If I live somewhere for four years, I like to think I know the normal climate. But scientifically, I know that four years is not enough to understand the climate of a place.
“You need at least 30.”
Both Moore and White hope their musical collaboration will do a little bit to help people close that instinctive gap and feel a changing mood right now.
“Science and music are considered very, very different,” Moore said. “But the two facets can work very well together.”
At the same time, say the two scientists, they hope the song will inspire people.
“For me, it’s important to get the message that it’s not hopeless. It’s not all catastrophic,” White said.
“What we need right now is action.”
Sounds of Earth: A Musical Exploration of our Dynamic Planet will premiere in a free concert on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. at UBC’s Chan Center for Performing Arts.