As trends like using metal straws to save the turtles keep climbing, Knoxville community members are using music to help save earth’s inhabitants.
Sing for Climate Change, an event organized by Louise Gorenflo, is the first step toward what she calls a collective action. The concert will serve as a launching point for a second, call-to-action step, sharing both information and music.
“This is the only thing at this point in human history that makes any sense for us to be doing, if we want human history to continue,” Gorenflo said. “It’s an existential reality that we’re dealing with.”
Concerts such as this have happened across the world, including a notable one in Belgium where the crowd joined in song together, singing “Do It Now” in 2012. The song will be performed at the Knoxville concert.
“The community counter narrative (to climate change) is this path forward that music can give,” concert performer and music organizer Guy-Larry Osborne said. “It can sound like there's really nothing that can be done meaningfully, me as an individual or us as a group, but songs can, in fact, state the path.”
Local performers, including Maggie Longmire, The Accidentals, Jay Clark, Sarah Pickle and Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, are donating their time and equipment to the event. With their support and the support of close to two dozen local organizations, the event is free to the public.
“The community partners, I think, are interesting to scan because it’s not just what you would think of as environmental groups,” Osborne said. “I think that is an indicator that people are recognizing that we’re not just saving the whales in the, you know, stereotypical view of what environmentalists are doing.”
“Everything connects with climate change,” Gorenflo added.
Seeing as everything connects with climate change, Gorenflo expressed her frustration with the lack of action by the United States in the effort to reduce factors contributing to climate change.
“We know how to stop. We know the suite of solutions that are solving the problem, but we're not doing anything,” Gorenflo said. “We're just basically letting the clock tick.”
Gorenflo drew on the Paris Climate Agreement, which was announced in 2015 under the Obama Administration. The agreement between the U.S. and almost every other nation looked to reduce carbon emission by half in 2030 and zero out carbon emission by 2050.
Looking to limit carbon emissions, the agreement set these standards to limit the global temperature increase in the current century to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing opportunities to limit an increase to 1.5 degrees.
“Anything above two degrees, you're talking about massive changes in the life on earth,” Gorenflo said, adding that projections claim the Amazon would turn into a desert and all of the tundra would melt, causing the release of methane in the frozen areas of the world.
In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced an intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement at a declaration from the White House Rose Garden. The U.S., however, is still in the agreement for now, with the process for withdrawing requiring that the pact remain for three years before any country can announce leaving and then another year before leaving. The earliest the U.S. can officially exit is November 4, 2020, and a future president can rejoin if wanted.
Just as it is a choice to remain an active member of the Paris Climate Agreement, Gorenflo said every individual has the choice to do their part to reduce human effect on climate change.
“People are aware of climate change. They know they're responsible for it,” Gorenflo said. “And so the choice we have to make is whether we're going to do anything about it or we're just going to continue to, you know, tool around in our SUV.”
But, there’s also a collective choice that must be made, Osborne said, hoping that the concert will join together individuals in an effort to spark a community movement like those in Europe where citizens are protesting and calling for action by their government.
“Change of this magnitude is possible. The problem today is that we don't have a clearly identified (cause),” Osborne said. “Everybody agrees that the attack on Pearl Harbor was horrific. They agreed that Hitler and his designs on the world were horrific. Today it's more diffused.”
Just as generations defeated those situations, Gorenflo added that this generation can overcome climate change together.
“(Our great work) is making this bridge between point A and point B, between a world dependent on fossil fuels to a world not dependent on fossil fuels,” Gorenflo said. “We’ve got to get to work. We've got to do it now.”
The Sing for Climate Change concert will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 29 at the Tennessee Amphitheater in World’s Fair Park. For more information visit the concert website.