Climate issues are often described by researchers in an abstract and impersonal way. Most people would end up considering it as a distant problem, both in time and place. If this continues, it would be a disaster since climate change mitigation efforts are something that we need to work on collectively.
People from different backgrounds should possess at least the same basic understanding of the climate crisis. Over time, environmentalists have found alternative actions to make society able to grasp the urgency easily. Many organisations are now coproducing public awareness campaign of sustainable issues with the creative industry.
For example, recently Greenpeace Southeast Asia collaborated with an Indonesian fashion designer, Intan Anggita Pratiwi, to create a limited edition of clothes and homeware made from recycled materials. Her clothes collection is inspired by the spices purchased from the local markets. She decided to use the same cooking spices for natural coloring. In this approach, she tried to tell people that change can start from home and individual.
The initiatives are not always coming from environmental organisations. Many artists from various fields of expertise, including the music and movie industries, feel the same concern. They represent their worries about environmental problems through arts. Although arts are sometimes portrayed as dramatic or overly romantic, they have shaped people’s perspectives.
Billie Eilish, an 18 years old pop singer, has successfully influenced youth to be more aware of climate change. In her music video called All the Good Girls Go to Hell, she is portrayed as an angel. She came from a beautiful sky and suddenly entered a dark sky and fell into tar substance. This depicts the birds caught in oil tank spillage in the sea. After one year, the video has received about 160 million views on YouTube.
The young artist also mentions California fires through the lyrics and shows burning scenes in the music video. That was an analogy to what happened globally, from the fires of Amazon to Australia’s burning. There are some girls in the background dancing on the fire, as if people do not care about the situation.
Furthermore, she urges her fans to support the Global Climate Strike movement, “Right now there are millions of people all over the world begging our leaders to pay attention. Our earth is warming up at an unprecedented rate, icecaps are melting, our oceans are rising, our wildlife is being poisoned and our forests are burning. On September 23rd, the UN will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit to discuss how to tackle these issues. The clock is ticking. On Friday, September 20th and Friday, September 27th, you can make your voice be heard. Take it to the streets. #climatestrike https://globalclimatestrike.net”
Bong Joon Ho, the South Korean director and writer who received six nominations and won four awards at the most prestigious film festival, Academy Awards, incorporated climate change issue as a theme in two of his movies, Parasite (2019) and Snowpiercer (2013). In Parasite movie, he exhibits the inequality between the rich and the poor as the impact of the climate crisis. The Park Family is being portrayed to be living a comfortable life with cars, a large house, and a lot of expensive clothes, which means requires much energy. On the other hand, the Kim Family lives in the most environmental-friendly situation where they eat leftover foods, walk and use public transportation to wherever they go, and possess only a few materialistic things. Ironically, the one affected the most is the Kim family. They got their house drowned because of the flood, while the Park Family had only to cancel their camping trip.
The movie takes a realistic approach in addressing climate change. It does not blame any parties, nor illustrate the rich and the poor as a full evil and a full virtuous. Both characters have their flaws and complexities. In this way, the audiences are not allowed to sympathise with any characters. As in reality, this reflects no clear understanding of how people will respond to climate change. In the aftermath, not only the movie has succeeded in dominating the various film awards globally, it has also inspired the South Korean government to improve living conditions in semi-basement apartments in Seoul.
An Indonesian director, Chairun Nissa, and a well-known actor, Nicholas Saputra, worked together in creating a documentary called Semesta (English: Islands of Faith). The documentary that is now available on Netflix is the result of the collaboration among Tanakhir Films, Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and the European Union. It demonstrates the partnership between creative industry, government, and international support.
The documentary is addressing climate change through the eyes of faith and religions. It tells the stories of several communities from seven provinces in Indonesia, including the Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Mothers, Indigenous People, and Millennial City Dwellers. The film illustrates how people from both rural and urban areas are handling environmental problems differently.
In the rural area, where people still strongly hold on to their cultural and religious beliefs, their beliefs unconsciously help them conserving and protecting the environment. For example, during Nyepi (English: Day of Silence) in Bali, people are not allowed to turn on the lights for 24 hours nor to do activities outside their homes. Even the airport is closed on that day. This tradition has been practiced since thousands of years ago until now. It is similar to the Earth Hour movement that only started in 2007.
In the case of urban area, a group of millennials decided to lead a better and meaningful life with their own initiatives. They built Kebun Kumara, an organic vegetable garden in the outskirts of Jakarta, the busiest city in Indonesia. The area used to be an illegal waste disposal space, but they have successfully turned it into an educating farm for city dwellers who mostly deal with stressful and monotonous works in their daily life. Not only does the farm give people the opportunity of learning, but it also gives them the chance of healing. The documentary has successfully told the audience that every community has its own wisdom in protecting the environment.
Creative Industry provides huge opportunities to share or promote goodness, especially on environmental issues such as climate change. Arts can be a powerful communication tool to persuade the public to conserve energy. It is an easier course to attract the attention of millions of people and inspire the government to act. Cooperating with the creative industry will help us drive the changes in policies and behaviors that mitigate climate change.