Climate Change, Environment and Music

Nick Mulvey releases vinyl made from recycled plastic washed up on Cornish beaches. Image Credit: Drift Records

With Climate Change politics heating up, we thought it was time to check in on environmental activism in music. Many musicians are passionate about environmental protection, and music related environmental initiatives are multiplying rapidly:

  • Our own Music: Count Us In program mentor Jack River featured in the Sydney ‘School Strike 4 Climate’ Rally on Friday 20 September, performing in The Domain. She has also joined artists such as Cloud Control, Midnight Oil, Vance Joy, Regurgitator, Big Scary, and Peking Duk in offsetting carbon emissions generated by touring through investing in solar farms. This investment was facilitated by the organisation FEAT. (Future Energy Artists), a partnership with superannuation fund Future Super;
  • Many artists and bands (eg Radiohead, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam) are now taking steps to reduce the touring carbon footprint such as: running tour buses run on biofuel; encouraging fans to take public transport to their shows; eating locally while on tour; and committing to other carbon emission offset schemes such as tree planting;
  • Green Music Australia, which featured in our April edition, is the flagship music organisation in Australia for environmental protection and has recently tackled plastic waste at music festivals and coal fired power generation. Paul Kelly and Missy Higgins are among 70 musicians who have supported this work;
  • In a poetic and symbolic gesture, English singer songwriter Nick Mulvey pressed his latest single on vinyl made from plastic waste found washed up on the Cornish coast (footage below);
  • Composers Szymon Weiss and Szymon Sutor recently reinterpreted Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to convey the effects of climate change. Their piece, “The Lost Seasons” portrays our perception of seasons changing due to extreme temperatures;
  • Environmental advocacy can also be found in:
    • song lyrics eg ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell;
    • foundations set up by artists eg Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation;
    • campaigns eg Green Day’s Move America Beyond Oil or Will.I.Am’s work in recycling;
    • and the creation of new organisations, such as FEAT. or Reverb (as US based organisation which helps musicians lower their environmental impact).

Music Australia will return to this topic next April for Earth Day (April 22).

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