【明報專訊】Each year, Christmas comes and goes too quickly. Yet more enduring are the Christmas songs. Although they are repeated every year, we do not seem to be bored by them. In 2016, a special Christmas song was launched by singers/songwriters Chris and Susie called ''It's a Climate Change Christmas at the North Pole''. The pop and country singing duo, professionally known as ''Earthbound'', have entertained thousands of guests in Las Vegas, Nevada for over two decades. With the battle over global warming continuing worldwide, they decided to bring awareness to the matter through their novelty Christmas song written with a bit of humour: ''In the merry days of old, you'd find glaciers and snow/Now it's a Climate Change Christmas at the North Pole...Santa shed his clothes and cap for a snorkel, fins and speedos...We're baked like ham and yams, working on our tan''.
Music has often been a vehicle by which people place themselves in social movements. Environmental groups have turned to music, mascots, children's books and films not only to help establish their collective identity through cultural expression, but also to forge a relationship with the general public. In 2007, a song aimed at motivating people to work together to tackle climate change was launched at the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Indonesia. Jointly launched by Oxfam, the President of COP13 and the Indonesian Environment Minister; written by a popular Indonesian musician named Nugie, the song ''Share with the World'' was performed by the United Voices of Indonesia, a special group of the country's 50 singers and musicians. At the 2014 Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards in New York, several famous musicians such as Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, Fergie, Leona Lewis, etc. were recognised for their songs about climate change. In 2019, in order to raise global support for Greta Thunberg, the then 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, seasoned musician Timothy Higgs wrote the song ''Our House is On Fire'' and dedicated it to Thunberg's crusade to alert the world to the climate emergency.
Last year in 2021, five months before COP26 was held in Glasgow, an international group of artists released a song that was perfectly placed to become an unofficial anthem of the London Climate Action Week in June and July 2021. The song ''Do it While You Can'' was a catchy and emotive call to action that was, for the first time, made available in over 30 languages. Underpinned by a melodious catchy tune and some genius guitar play, the song contained lyrics such as ''Do it while you can, 'cause climate change is real/Do it while you can, we got a world to heal'' that pointed directly to the immediacy of the threat posed by global warming.
Part of the power of these songs (or the cute environment-themed mascots) comes from their ability to make the cause more relatable to the public. We connect to music and mascots much more easily than we can connect to an abstract idea.
John Erni is Dean of Humanities at The Education University of Hong Kong. He thinks everyday culture is complex and always enchanting.
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