|Miami University's Men's Glee Club
(Which included one of our Conservation Biology students!)
I have spent the last few years thinking about ways we science-types can successfully reach out to non-science types to get them interested and concerned about the biodiversity crisis. We’re at the beginning of the sixth mass extinction event and we’re missing it because we’re scrolling through our emails and tweeting about our bargain find on unnecessary plastic objects. How do you capture people’s attention in a meaningful way? Bill McKibben’s talk and my conservation biology class’s response to his talk has me thinking though about the value of singing to the choir. I have often worried that all we mostly do in science outreach is sing to the choir. But, the choir likes music, whether making it or listening to it. Before most of these students went to Bill McKibben’s talk, none of them needed convincing that climate change was their reality. They had the basic information. What they didn’t have, necessarily, was the steps to a solution to a problem so large and overwhelming, or the inspiration to take those steps. But, at McKibben's talk they received a little of both from a yodeler high on the mountaintop. The choir can use a little inspiration once in a while—and perhaps for people working on and thinking about the fate of biodiversity in the Anthropocene, we forget that we desperately need a little singing (or yodeling).
My choir (my class…no one would let me in a real choir and for good reason) was inspired by McKibben founding 350.org with 7 undergrads and himself where each student took on one continent to find people committed to reducing carbon dioxide to 350 ppm. One undergrad for one continent! And it was sufficient! They were interested to hear about the divestment movement (like Ashley) and how students and “grown-ups” have gone to jail over their protests demanding for energy change (like Caroline). They were moved by pictures of people around the world with their signs for 350 (like Amanda). When Bill McKibben talks, the crowds he draws may in large part be from the choir, but still, I've gotta say, even though we didn't know we were longing for them, we loved the tunes.