Tempo: Music for Climate Action

What is the Tempo: Music for Climate Action Project?

  • The Tempo: Music for Climate Action project is a collaboration between climate scientists, social scientists, and musicians to inspire climate action through music. Projects featured in Tempo transform climate data into emotion-evoking pieces of music aimed at inspiring people to care about climate change through a medium other than raw statistics. Tempo encourages music of any genre and language.  While the project is currently limited to the United States and Japan, project leaders hope to expand the project globally.
  • Tempo was founded in 2020 by Dr. Lucy Jones, a renowned seismologist commonly known as “the Earthquake Lady.” Dr. Jones has worked as an adviser for the U.S. Geological Survey and published numerous papers on tectonic foreshocks, physical indicators of incoming earthquakes.  She has made innovative contributions to earthquake predictions using statistical analysis.  Her work has improved scientists’ accuracy in predicting seismic events, allowing us to respond to these natural disasters sooner.  Through Tempo, she is sounding the alarm on climate change and inspiring people to respond to the multitude of extreme events that will occur in the wake of climate change.
  • You can listen to some of the pieces created for the project here.

Dr. Lucy Jones, also known as the “Earthquake Lady” and the founder of Caltech’s Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society (from LA Stories Staff, 2021).

How is this related to climate?

  • Dr. Jones instrumental piece “In Nomine Terra Calens: In the name of a warming earth” is featured in the Tempo project.  The composition converts over a century of Earth’s temperature data into pitch.  Throughout the piece, the pitch increases, reflecting rising temperatures caused by human carbon emissions.  Accompanied by a stunning visual timeline, the work captures the history of rising temperatures from 1886 to the present.  Dr. Jones ends the piece with a single haunting and ambiguous note corresponding to the current global temperature.  With “In Nomine Terra Calens,” Dr. Jones hopes to give a sense of urgency in listeners, compelling them to take action against climate change.
  • Tempo also features other musical compositions aimed at inspiring climate action and awareness.  This includes pianist Ludovico Einaudi’s “Elegy for the Arctic,” a solemn and dark classical composition spreading awareness of glacial melt in the Arctic.  In 2016, Einaudi performed the piece on a floating platform in Svalbard, Norway, surrounded by the remnants of melting glaciers.  Tempo also displays Despotz Records’ “How Dare You,” a heavy metal song with lyrics borrowed from climate activist Greta Thunberg’s speech of the same name delivered at the UN 2019 Climate Summit.

References and additional resources