Raffi Wrote a Climate Change Song for Greta Thunberg

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Internationally famous children’s musician Raffi Cavoukian is back with a new track, and the subject matter isn’t as whimsical as beluga whales and banana phones. It’s called “Young People Marching,” and it’s dedicated to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The song is done in Raffi’s signature style, with a moderate tempo, simple arrangement, and easily repeatable lines. And, on the surface, even its message seems upbeat—it’s a celebration of all the young people peacefully marching for climate change. But it’s hard to miss Raffi’s deeper meaning if you tune in to the lyrics, which feature phrases like “Decades of lies, decades of denial … decades of obstruction,” “The science is clear, it’s late in the hour for climate action,” and “Green New Deal, keepin’ it real.”

As much as it honors the “millions and millions of young people” now devoted to the cause, it’s also a frustrated rebuke of the older generations who created the mess that today’s children must clean up. The music video reinforces this point by juxtaposing footage of the Amazon wildfires, melting glaciers, and ocean trash with scenes of children participating in climate strikes.

If you only know Raffi’s most popular numbers, you might think this is a surprising about-face for the 71-year-old entertainer, but he’s actually been speaking out (and singing out) against climate change since the late 1980s. In 1989, after hearing a Canadian radio series called It’s a Matter of Survival that stressed the climate emergency, Raffi released an album for adults called Evergreen Everblue, which covered concepts like atomic waste and ethical commerce. According to Slate, he even decided against having children because of the deteriorating state of the environment.

Raffi told Slate that he won’t be playing “Young People Marching” at his concerts, but he encourages climate activists to use it as an anthem.

“What I’m saying to all the climate strikers is, ‘Here, take this song, play it at your rallies, learn it, sing it, do what you like,’” he told Slate. “This is what I can do. This is what I can offer. I wrote it as an offering, as a troubadour marking a moment in time.”

For Raffi, it isn’t a question of politics—at this point, he says, everyone should treat the situation as an emergency. “You’d be delinquent if you didn’t rise to the occasion and become a responder.”

Press play on “Young People Marching” and read up on ways to reduce your carbon footprint here.

[h/t Slate]

9 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day From Home

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Caruso Affiliated

With many of us homebound thanks to COVID-19, this Earth Day celebration—which marks the 50th anniversary of the event—is going to look a little different than in years past. But just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you can’t participate. From making a sign for your window to making glacier goo, here’s how you can celebrate Earth Day from the comfort of your home.

1. Make A Window Sign

One of the easiest ways to celebrate this Earth Day is to make a sign for your window. If you need a catchy slogan, EarthDay.org has some suggestions.

2. And 3. Participate in Earthday.org’s 24 Hours of Action and Earth Challenge 2020

On Wednesday, April 22, EarthDay.org will “issue 24 actions for the planet that you can take now, wherever you are,” according to its website. Follow along on EarthDay.org or on social media (@earthdaynetwork) for new challenges every hour of Earth Day. The organization is also running Earth Challenge 2020, a citizen science project that will call on users to report observations of air quality and plastic pollution. You can find out more here.

4. AMNH’s Earthfest at Home

New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is celebrating Earth Day this year with its virtual Earthfest, a day-long slate of activities including an instructional gardening workshop; a glacier goo how-to that demonstrates glacier physics; a live watch party that takes you around the world, and another that’s out of this world; and an Earth-themed trivia night. Find out how you can participate here.

5. USC’s Online Earth Day Celebration

The University of Southern California (USC) will run forums over the course of April 22, 23, and 24, including a spring career fair, an innovation panel, and a citizen science project. You can see all of the events and register here.

6. Earth Day 50/50: Looking Back, Moving Forward

On April 22, the Earth Institute at Columbia University will host a live webcast featuring scientists and experts called “Earth Day 50/50: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” covering the history of Earth Day, the latest in climate research, and ways to build a sustainable planet in the future. You can register here, and check out Columbia’s other Earth Day offerings—which includes a seminar for kids on the science of microplasticshere.

7. WWF’s #ArtForEarth

This week, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) is asking people to create art that shows their appreciation for, and the importance of, nature using the hashtag #ArtForEarth. Each day has a theme; appropriately, the theme on Earth Day is One Earth. You can find out more here.

8. NASA’s #EarthDayatHome

To help us all celebrate Earth Day virtually, NASA has put together a website chock-full of resources, from a webquest showing how its scientists study the Earth to a citizen science project/game identifying corals in the Great Barrier Reef. They’ve also put together a 50th anniversary kit featuring games, activities, photos, and more. (You can also check out NASA at Home and NASA STEM at Home.) Participants can share how they’re celebrating Earth Day on social media with the hashtag #EarthDayatHome.

9. Earth Optimism Summit

Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, which runs from April 22 to 26, “[showcases] stories of both small- and large-scale actions, framing the conversation and demonstrating that success is possible.” It will feature movie nights, virtual workshops on subjects like how animals bring us happiness and another on fighting pandemics, interviews with experts, and more. The summit will be broadcast live on their website (as well as Facebook Live, YouTube, and Twitter). You’re encouraged to share your own stories and experiences on social media with the hashtag #EarthOptimism. You can find out more here.

The Reason We Celebrate Earth Day on April 22

Earth Day has roots in Arbor Day.
Earth Day has roots in Arbor Day.
ipopba/iStock via Getty Images

This year, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a time to turn our attention toward the environment and raise awareness about threats to its well-being, from air pollution to climate change. But why does Earth Day fall on April 22? Is there any significance to the date?

When the inaugural Earth Day was first suggested by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson and San Francisco activist John McConnell in 1970, a date was needed that would allow for activists attending college to be free to participate, a point made by organizer Denis Hayes. April 22 fell between spring break and final exams for most universities.

While that was a matter of logistics, April 22 also has a deeper meaning. Earth Day was inspired in part by Arbor Day, a tree-planting event that was organized by Nebraska native Julius Sterling Morton in 1872. Arbor Day was set for April 10. Later, when Arbor Day was declared a legal holiday by Nebraska, the state honored Morton by changing the date to his birthday—April 22.

McConnell actually preferred the Spring Equinox for Earth Day, since marking the changing of the seasons and a balanced amount of daylight and darkness represented Earth’s unique traits. Because April 22 allowed college students to be more active in the events, however, that was the date that stuck.

The modern Earth Day, with its themed objectives and upbeat spirit, is a marked departure from the first Earth Day in 1970, which had demonstrations that bordered on protests. (One enthusiastic group smashed an old Chevrolet to condemn air pollution.) The 2020 edition has a new theme—Climate Action—and will be celebrated virtually. While the world recognizes Earth Day, outside the U.S. it’s actually known by another name: International Mother Earth Day.

[h/t EarthSky]