The data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies are dizzying. They show average global temperatures edging inexorably upward from 1880 to 2012.
Understanding the implications of that climb is difficult for many people. So cellist Daniel Crawford accepted a challenge from his professor, Scott St. George, to turn a set of data into a piece of music. The result is “A Song of Our Warming Planet.” Crawford says in the video:
In the piece of music, each note will correspond to a year and then the pitch of that note will represent the temperature of that year. So then these really high pitches, that would mean a warmer year and the lower pitches would be a cooler year. The data comes from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA. It’s a compilation of global annual surface air temperatures.
Climate scientists have a standard toolbox to communicate their data. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to add another tool to that toolbox, another way to communicate the ideas to the people who might get more out of this than out of maps, graphs, numbers.
Climate change is a defining issue of our generation, and it’s still something that a lot of people don’t fully understand. What we’re trying to do is to represent with the music sort of the immediacy and the importance that this issue has right now. If we act on it, maybe it won’t be as much of an issue for the future.
The video ends with the prediction of another 1.8 degree celsius climb in global temperature by the end of the century. The notes needed to represent that are beyond the range humans can hear.
Hoping the work will inspire other artists and communicators to convey the climate message in ways that inspire action, Crawford has released the score and sound files under a Creative Commons license.
This is an inspiring collaboration that gives me hope that our artists and creators will continue to find new ways to communicate the most important issues of our day.