Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg is bringing her climate change message to the airwaves with an emotive spoken essay for The 1975’s new album, Notes on a Conditional Form.
Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg captured the world’s attention last August with her solitary climate change protest outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm. And, ever since, her impassioned speeches at the COP24 UN climate talks, the World Economic Forum in Davos and the EU Parliament in Brussels have enervated the conversation around the climate crisis and sparked a global youth movement.
But the 16-year-old isn’t stopping at the lectern to raise awareness of the need to protect our environment for future generations. Ever the innovator, the teenager has now teamed up with The 1975 to spread her climate message through the power of song.
On The 1975’s upcoming album, Notes on a Conditional Form, the environmental activist has recorded a spoken essay urging listeners to recognise the environmental predicament as an “emergency”, and rally together to fight climate change.
“We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis, and we need to call it what it is: an emergency,” Greta begins in the five-minute track. “We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.
“We must admit that we are losing this battle. We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed, but homo sapiens have not yet failed.”
Thunberg, a leading voice in the climate debate, emphasises that while our law-making institutions have failed to make progress at the pace of change required to halt environmental destruction, hope can be found in grassroots activism and “civil disobedience.”
“If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me,” she continues. “So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.”
“We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed—everything needs to change, and it has to start today. So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.”
Whilst the track won’t be released as a single, Thunberg’s environmental message takes a prominent place as the opening song on the band’s album. And although all three of the band’s previous albums have opened with the same ambient instrumental track called The 1975, Thunberg’s collaboration is the first time the track has been reinvented with speech, which is a powerful political statement in itself.
At Thunberg’s request, The 1975 are also donating proceeds from the track to environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion when the album goes on sale later in August. Earlier in the year, the group made headlines with their high-profile demonstrations aiming to raise awareness of climate change.
“Music has the power to break through barriers, and right now we really need to break through some barriers if we are to face this emergency,” the group said in a statement.
It hasn’t escaped people’s notice that Thunberg’s track was uploaded at midnight on one of the hottest days in the history of the UK, when the gruelling heatwave has been at the forefront of conversation all week. The time for bold evolution, as The 1975 and Thunberg proved with their musical collaboration, is upon us, and by practising our own small acts of rebellion, we can help our safeguard our planet for future generations too.