Standing on the sidelines during an election is never an option. That's why superstar musicians rarely hesitate when asked to step up to the mic to use their outsized influence to encourage all of us to speak out for the future that we want for our families, our communities and ourselves.
And who better to get us excited about voting?
Don't miss your chance to be on the right side of history! Register to vote now via @RocktheVote https://t.co/jr0RxCHBJU— Tegan and Sara (@Tegan and Sara)1475859602.0
After all, we tend to form strange, special relationships with our favorite performers. We invite them into our lives and ask them to provide the soundtrack. (Or is it the other way around?) Over the course of a few albums, something strikingly personal develops—through confessional, relatable lyrics you discover a kindred spirit or maybe a new best friend who understands the cathartic necessity of losing yourself and your worries to the pulse of the dance floor.
A very real connection is born, one that runs far deeper than with any other sort of celebrity. So it's no wonder we trust them when they offer up a very simple message: Your vote is your voice.
Since 1990, Rock the Vote has been working hard to draw attention to elections and turn out millions of voters. The campaign has always made great use of celebrity supporters—and pop stars in particular. When a cultural icon starts talking about the importance of voting, their millions of fans tend to pay attention.
From touring to ads and more, superstar singers have always played a pivotal role in the Rock the Vote campaign. Here are five of our favorites who have both lent their famous faces to the cause of inspiring millions to take action by voting and supported the green movement for a more sustainable future for all of us.
21 Ways to Go Green in 2016 https://t.co/KwIiNKVslP @GreenSamaritan @greencupboards— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1452378019.0
Rock the Vote launched itself into the public consciousness in a very big way in 1990 with a controversial PSA featuring the Queen of Pop at the peak of her powers. Draped in an American flag, clad in lingerie and mouthing off in typical fashion, the pop star did what she does best: got plenty of attention.
In the years since, she's used her fame to bring awareness to a variety of causes, from world hunger at Live 8 to environmental awareness as the headliner at Live Earth, the global concert event held in 2007 and founded in partnership with The Climate Reality Project Founder and Chairman Al Gore. Her Madgesty has even appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair's annual Green Issue.
2. Pharrell Williams
Pharrell has a long history of asking his fans to Rock the Vote, going so far as to call voting "the only way to change things." He is also no stranger to green initiatives and even partnered with Climate Reality for 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World Is Watching to spread the word about climate solutions ahead of the historic UN climate negotiations in Paris.
"I'm hopeful for our future and proud of our world leaders for taking first steps toward working together for a healthier, happier planet," he said on Facebook of the Paris agreement.
3. Katy Perry
Perry's interest in the well-being of our planet stems from her role as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. The chart-topping pop princess has traveled the globe to speak with children and promote public health services in the developing world. This naturally extends to issues like drought, flooding, global temperature rise and the related spread of vector-borne diseases, which inspired Perry to star in a characteristically tongue-in-cheek clip, produced by UNICEF and styled as a local news-like weather report, about the dangers of extreme weather for the world's children.
Perry recently shot a Rock the Vote campaign commercial, telling The Los Angeles Times, "Younger people sometimes don't feel like their vote matters. They think it's all rigged, but it's not true—you have to physically go out and vote."
4. John Legend
Legend has been extremely vocal on Twitter with his feelings about environmental issues. And like Pharrell, Legend's commitment to the cause also is far from new—he performed during The Climate Rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC all the way back in April 2010 in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
The "All of Me" singer and 10-time Grammy winner has been involved with Rock the Vote for years, as well and was the face of the organization's Democracy Day initiative to educate young people about the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age in the U.S. from 21 to 18 in 1971.
5. Jason Mraz
Mraz went on tour with Rock the Vote in 2013 to get thousands of people registered ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.
"Now that I have an opportunity to work with Rock the Vote, it's just a must," he said. "A lot of people don't know that they have to register; they think 'I'm always registered.' … Every single vote counts."
The "I Won't Give Up" crooner also is a well-known environmentalist. Part of the vision of his Jason Mraz Foundation is to "achieve a society … where the environment is preserved for generations to come." (Sounds familiar to us!) He's also been very active in Climate Reality's annual 24 Hours of Reality live global event over the years, discussing topics from what he is doing to be a better activist to why he is optimistic about the future of our planet.
Are our celebrity friends correct that voting is key to doing your part to assure a sustainable future? One thing is certain: expanding clean energy and creating more green jobs are goals Americans agree on—and we need our leaders to support.
Every U.S. election is important, but this year we have the power to shape not only the future of America, but the future of our entire planet and its citizens. In fewer than five minutes, you can register or pledge to #RockTheVote and proudly raise your voice on Election Day.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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World's Richest One Percent Are Producing More Than Double the Carbon Emissions as the Bottom 50 Percent
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.
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