The new climate anthem is out — you know, the remake of “Beds Are Burning” that features such hip, 21st-century acts as Duran Duran, Bob Geldof, and Youssou N’Dour — and I can’t get it out of my head.
Actually, it left my head pretty much as soon as the 4:02 video ended. But I was struck by, and can’t stop thinking about, the fact that the modified language in the song goes like this: “The time has come/to take a stand/it’s for the Earth/it’s for our land.”
I expect this to resonate with exactly no one.
Right? Of all the ways to get people fired up about the urgency of the climate issue, is “land” going to get the job done?
This notion keeps surfacing in discussions at Grist — first when Obama gave his speech, and laid out the various reasons the U.S. needed to take action. (Not any plan for taking action, but some darn good reasons why we should think seriously about it.) Then with the debut of the latest Ken Burns documentary, the one on the national parks. Associated with that program has been a fair amount of press (and press releases) warning of the damage that climate change could inflict on our treasured parks — Glacier losing its glaciers, Joshua Tree losing its Joshua trees, and so forth.
Which is a bummer, to be sure — even tragic in some sense. But is it tragic to someone who can’t find a job? For that matter, is it tragic to someone who has a great job and all the comforts that go along with it?
There was a time when protecting land was enough to get environmentalists and their allies all fired up. That’s what got the movement going. And to be sure, there is still important work going on in that arena. But as a way in to the climate issue, I think we can do better.
How about drawing the connections to jobs, or health, or the despicable folk who run our slimiest corporations? How about saving money or protecting your children?
Or how about thinking of some shiny new ways to get people to “care” about the climate. How about making it a competition to see which country can lower its emissions most — winner gets free ice cream for every citizen! How about making a new reality show in which industries face off against each other, American Gladiator-style, for the right to emit? How about tying it to sex? Surely there’s a way to tie it to sex.
I think they should redo that video.