The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), released a new report this week. The IPCC is an international organization set up to assess the dangers of climate change by analyzing the science. It has been doing this since 1988, and is linked to the UN (UNEP specifically). In this their sixth report, urgent action is recommended, and dire consequences are warned by 2030 (when we're now expected to reach 1.5 degrees C). The earth has already warmed around 1 degree, which has already had a negative consequence our our environment (unprecedented droughts in Syria and California; increased hurricane's such as Katrina and Maria; permafrost melting). In the NPR report on the IPCC report, they point out, "with each additional unit of warming, the adverse consequences from that warming grow quite a bit." It becomes more difficult to grow crops because of drying and warming in some locations, and alternatively too much water in other areas. Heat waves have become more extreme and frequent, and more and more people are dying from these heat waves (especially the poor, disabled, and elderly). Suggestions are also made in how we can change to begin to reduce these negative consequences. One thing is clear: urgent action needs to be taken!
Looking at the same report, CNN highlights recommendations around transportation, buildings and diet. I will contextualize these within music education. Many of these, I've already recommended in the book, Eco-Literate Music Pedagogy.
- The IPCC recommends less travel. For those of us doing music education scholarship, maybe this means cultivating more of a regional, and less of an international presence at conferences. I have already begun to do this by driving, rather than flying, to conferences. Even when I presented at Colorado this past summer, for the Modern Band Colloquium, I turned that conference into a family vacation. We drove, and stopped at two national parks and two national monuments, a practice aimed at increasing my son's ecological literacy, while reducing our family's carbon footprint. Driving produces a smaller carbon footprint than flying. For instance, flying from Boston to San Francisco produces 1,300 kilograms of carbon per passenger, while the same trip is 930 kilograms of carbon per vehicle (so, for my wife, my son and I: the numbers are 3,900 vs. 930 kilograms of carbon). If we choose to cultivate a stronger regional (even bioregional) professional presence, we can do a lot for our environment, though this may go against a lot of how universities currently value modern mobile individuals. This will have to change. Those values are cultivated by specific faculties and specific administrators: so consciousness-raising is still our, as eco-literate music pedagogues, biggest job.
- According to CNN< people need to use smart thermostats, and efficient air conditioning. For many, solar panels and wind energy generators may further lessen our carbon impact. Not mentioned by CNN (which as a corporation is bought into the sales model of environmentalism) is gardening. One of my favorite podcasts, World Organic News, uses as their motto: Decarbonize the air, Recarbonize the soil! When we grow plants, and then compost those plants (in State College borough we have a town composting program), we're turning carbon into soil. We do this on the small scale. But small actions can become big if everybody does them! Everybody should garden, if even just a little, in a pot in your apartment window. And the school music teacher can do a lot to support school gardens as well. We don't just teach music, but are integral parts of school communities. Make trips to the school garden, listening and composing with the soundscape, a part of your music curriculum! If your school doesn't have a garden, start one.
- Finally diet: CNN recommends we eat less meat (but not necessarily none). If our food is shipped around the globe, this is also a problem. Buy local foods where possible, and at farmers markets. You get to support your local economy, your local farmers, while lessening your carbon imprint. Similarly, music teachers can rely more on local resources in our music classrooms, including making instruments instead of buying manufactured products.