By Clara Chaisson
Elephants are extinct.
If that sentence became fact, how would you feel? Artist Jenny Kendler's Music for Elephants: A Eulogy for the Future attempts to evoke the grief of such a loss through a seamless combination of piano music, data and symbolism.
The 10-minute song is a translation of projected elephant population numbers over time into a musical score. The notes emanate from an unmanned player piano, adding a ghostly presence to the already haunting tones. The restored 1920s instrument has keys made of ivory—the very substance for which poachers slaughter these animals each year by the tens of thousands. If and when the piano falls silent, the elephant has disappeared from the Earth forever.
Kendler has been striving to combine her two great loves, art and the natural world, her entire life. As a baby, her parents have told her, one of her first words was picture. Kendler grew up in a solar-powered home and "it was only as I got older that I realized other people didn't talk about global warming at the dinner table in the '80s," she said. Her efforts to synthesize creativity and conservation are epitomized by her current role as Natural Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) first-ever artist-in-residence.
Detail of the perforated player piano roll.Jenny Kendler
Kendler says she's been thinking for years about elephants' similarities to humans, with their well-established social structures and emotional complexity. The severity of the poaching crisis inspired her to take creative action. The piano—an instrument with emotional range and keys historically made from elephant tusks—felt like the perfect medium.
With help from wildlife experts at NRDC, Kendler spent months researching elephant birth and death rates and poaching statistics. Along with her husband, a software developer, she used the data to create a predictive model.
Each note of Music for Elephants represents one month and its pitch the number of elephants that have died in those four weeks. Higher notes correspond to fewer poaching incidents, while lower notes mean more elephants are dying. "Nothing is random," Kendler said. "Everything in the way that the score is played is completely derived from the numerical set itself." Her algorithm assumes that poaching will continue to increase at a rate of 1.5 percent each year, culminating in extinction 25 years from now.
Recent hopeful events may make that timeline less likely. In December, China promised to shut down its ivory trade by the end of 2017. An estimated 70 percent of all illegal ivory goes through China, which is why Kendler sees the announcement as "straight-up good news."
Victory: China to Ban Ivory Trade by End of 2017 https://t.co/tWYqUEuxDn @Greenpeace @HuffPostGreen— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1483146306.0
But the situation for elephants is still dire. Illegal channels for ivory will likely persist and consumer education is key. At the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which exhibited Music for Elephants in November, Kendler said, "People would say to me, 'Oh, people are still killing elephants for ivory? I didn't know that.'"
Take a listen to her work below.
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help ... ›
- Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Flea and More Featured on Just Released ... ›
- Musicians and Activists Unite at 'Pathway to Paris' - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.
- Supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam Swap Plastic Packaging for ... ›
- Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It ... ›
- Thailand Begins the New Year With Plastic Bag Ban - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Worsens Thailand's Plastic Waste Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Marium, Thailand's Beloved Baby Dugong, Is the Latest Victim of ... ›
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
- 7 Republicans Joined Senate Democrats in Vote to Fight Climate ... ›
- Climate Change Acknowledged by Increasing Number of ... ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.