“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain. So hit me with music, hit me with music…”” goes the song by Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley. So if with music we feel no pain, is it also possible that we could fight climate change with music?
Music has been used as a tool for advocacy and change since it was first invented. Throughout history, all sorts of topics have been adressed in the lyrics of passionate artists — including injustice, racism, poverty, war, and now, the environment.
Just last December at the COP21 climate conference in Paris, Grammy award-winning Jamaican musician Sean Paul sang the Love Song to the Earth. “Living on a small island, environmental changes are very obvious to me. Clean air and water are things we owe to our children and grandchildren, so if we don’t act now, there will be no future,” Paul said after his performance.
As a reprise, Jamaica’s Aaron Silk and fellow singer/songwriter Adrian Martinez of Belize delivered a riveting performance on week two of the global climate talks. The duo was there to help to project the message ”1.5 to Stay Alive,”, (holding temperature rise to no more than 1.5º C) while urging collective action from world leaders in the interest of planet Earth. They also provided entertainment for the negotiators — many of whom stopped to witness the performance delivered at the Caribbean Pavilion. Music, after all –not just reggae but soca, merengue, calypso, salsa, dancehall, the list goes on and on– is one of the many things the Caribbean offers to the world.
More and more islands, with the support of international organizations such as the IDB, Panos Caribbean, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, GIZ, the Red Cross and the United Nations Development Programme, are coming up with interesting and creative ways to bring the attention to issues such as sea-level rise, stronger hurricanes and longer drought periods.
Here are some great examples of how music in the Caribbean speaks Climate Change. Enjoy!
- Voices for Climate Change (Jamaica)
Music video featuring 25 Jamaican artists united to spread a message about climate change.
The song is a warning of the impacts of climate change, and encourages everyone to start acting now.
- A Changing World (Trinidad & Tobago)
Performed by Psalmist Mekaiel featuring Karma Ramsey, J Washington & Marc Raven. This song speaks to an Earth on the verge of total loss and urges everyone to Rise Up, save the earth and “live green.”
- It Could Be You (Grenada)
Snakey, winner of the “Sing For Preparedness” competition organized in Grenada by the Red Cross and UNDP, aimed at promoting volunteerism in disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation.
- Jeffrey Town Farmer’s Association Climate Change Music Video (Jamaica)
Jeffrey Town Farmers Association Ltd. is a farming group established in 1991 that works actively on climate resilience. The community, numbering approximately 3000 people, was one of the few community associations from the Caribbean to attend COP21.
- Swipe, Eclipse & Avonni (Grenada)
Grenada’s climate change music video aims to raise awareness about the negative impacts of climate change – like sea-level rise, stronger hurricanes or water shortage – in the tri-island state. The song was developed by Swipe, Eclipse & Avonni from Grenada and produced by Joan Bastide. The music video was developed under the “Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies” (ICCAS) Programme.
- 1.5 to Stay Alive – Arthur and Mongstar (St. Lucia)
Arthur and Mongstar prepared this song for Caribbean Youth Environment Network – Saint Lucia (CYEN) to take to the Paris climate conference. CYEN postulates that any increases in temperature beyond 1.5°C will relegate the economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to unrelenting cycles of disasters that will compromise the future quality of life of all young people.