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Going Greener: Professional Sports vs. Climate Change
Kraylee M. Ledger
Department of English, West Shore Community College
English 112: English Composition II
Rev. John Wolff
March 9, 2020
It is no secret that the world of sports is constantly growing across the world, but especially in the United States. Professional sports are one of America’s favorite pastimes, including watching Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). But, as we immerse ourselves in the excitement and popularity of these events, we forget to ask ourselves: what is the environmental impact? The impact is severe: sports increase both carbon emissions and water use. Carbon emissions are a strong component of climate change, largely produced by travel. Secondly, the amount of water usage in a single year can profoundly impact the environment, especially in the line of construction mistakes. To combat the implications of sports on the environment, many leagues have joined the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) which encourages and promotes green practices to over 500 teams and encourage becoming certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) which promotes building stadiums with sustainable energy sources.
Keywords: Green Sports Alliance (GSA), LEED, carbon emissions.
Going Greener: Professional Sports vs. Climate Change
The world of sports has changed drastically in the past 100 years. According to Evans (2019), a reporter at Business Insider, in 2018, the sports industry in America alone was worth $75 billion – and that number is only climbing. Clearly demonstrated by these numbers, sports have become an important part of our culture, but at what cost to the environment? The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) have been working diligently to expand knowledge of green practices in the sports industry, especially in professional sports. This is often through becoming LEED certified or becoming a GSA member club.
Although measures are being taken to reduce environmental impact, professional sports still have a great impact on the environment through energy use, waste, and water usage, just to name a few. Taking a deeper dive into research, there is a large grey area in the world of sports regarding the environment with little regulations. There may be a prominent amount of competition to be the “greenest” arena, simply on the basis of obtaining greater status or a strong label, but that is not always the case. A lack of efforts to combat climate change can result in the total collapse of prominent sports, such as hockey and other winter dependent sports. Professional sports generate a significant impact on the environment through travel and use of textiles and water, but the NHL Green Initiative assists in lowering the impact and should be implemented across all leagues.
Every time you turn your TV on to ESPN, you see professional teams competing all across the country, so it is no secret nor surprise that travel is a large component of sports. With professional sports scattered around large cities across the nation, travel is a necessary evil and often occurs through driving or air travel. Thus, travel comes from two different arenas: event attendees and teams.
As stated, the locations of professional teams require fans to travel in some form. The travel necessary boosts carbon emissions. Warren (2017), Associate Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, states that the average event goer generates seven times more carbon emissions than the average person going through their day-to-day activities. This figure is largely due to the amount of travel needed. According to Bsales and Sarkins (2013), employees at TerraPass focused on lowering carbon emissions, a single game at MetLife stadium accrues over 1.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide just through those who park at the stadium. Dodger Stadium rings in at 828,429 pounds of carbon dioxide and AT&T Stadium with 207,115. These figures run off the assumption of an average of 30 miles of travel per person and only estimates the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from those who fit in the parking lots of the stadiums. The assumption and focus audience leaves much confusion/lack of clarity in the specific figures, meaning that individual carbon dioxide emissions could be even greater than estimated – the page even noting that the estimation is on the low side.
The U.S. Travel Association (2019) reports that there were 190 million domestic trips in 2018 to attend sports events, 25% of which included a flight. The Association also notes the growing aspect of travel in sports with out-sourced parking and greater travel distances. Meaning that more emissions are produced from a single game, but are difficult to gauge without detailed personal testimonies from every attendee. The sheer amount of carbon emissions from travel from a game only attests to the impact individuals have with traveling to and from games, but teams themselves have a significant carbon footprint.
For example, consider the amount of professional sports players who are not from the United States and often have to travel to and from their home countries. The number of players hailing from outside of the country adds another layer of travel. The 2018 U.S. Travel Association report includes statistics of foreign players from each league: the MLS has 250 foreign players across 8 countries, 21 countries are represented in the MLB with 28 percent of players being foreign, the NHL has 44 percent of players hailing from Canada, Russia, and Sweden respectively, and the NBA hosts 104 foreign athletes with 42 countries represented. In total, there were 872 foreign players in U.S. professional sports in 2018.
According to CarbonIndependent.org’s “Aviation” article (2019), the average flight emits 90 kilograms of carbon dioxide each hour, which increases with the luxury of the flight. Thus, it is fair to gauge that an immense amount of carbon dioxide and other gasses are emitted solely due to the number of players needing to travel to and from home. Increased travel means an increase in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, which are known to have a profound effect on climate change. Although travel accounts for a large portion of sports’ negative impact on the ecosystem, the use of textiles and water to maintain daily operations is just as detrimental to our environment.
Textiles and Water Usage
Building new arenas and event centers come at a great cost to not only the local and national environment but to the environment worldwide. According to Warren (2017), Associate Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, the average life expectancy of an arena in the National Football League (NFL) before replacement is only 31 years – and this does not include renovations. This observation is startling once put it into perspective. There are 32 teams in the NFL alone, meaning the current average adds up to at minimum one new arena every year. But what cost does this bring the environment?
Grant (2014) lists all of the major improvements in construction that Marlins Park took, such as 97 percent of all debris being recycled, more than half of textiles coming from within a 500-mile radius, and plumbing built to reduce water waste by 50 percent. Another innovative technique included using recycled Nike shoes for the flooring in the clubhouse in order to reuse materials that would typically end up in a landfill. Although stadiums are taking steps in the right direction, others are running in the opposite direction. For example, the Indianapolis Colts rebuilt their stadium in 2011, but immediately had a plumbing failure which resulted in constantly running water to flush out the rust and corrosion. The running water increased the water bill by 240 percent in a single month or 14 million gallons (Grant 2019). Although the issues were not intended to occur, there were steps and precautions that were not taken in good stride. The mistakes point to the need for stronger regulation and awareness of greener practices, such as low-water-use plumbing as used in Marlins Park. This plumbing mistake is just the beginning of water usage across leagues.
Sports vary in their need for water to maintain play, but even those that do not openly show large use have a great impact. According to Grant (2014), a Major League Baseball (MLB) team uses around 12 million gallons of water each year simply to maintain day-to-day operations. Also according to Grant (2014), water usage sees a dramatic increase for special events such as the NHL Winter Classic which uses an average of 3.5 million gallons of water in a period of just a few days. This observation shines just a bit of light on how dramatic and important the amount of usage is. To put it into greater perspective, there are 123 professional sports teams in just the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB (the most popular leagues). This means that those 123 teams generate at least 1.5 billion gallons of water in a single year or enough water for 7.1 million people to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water each day for a full year (Kolkey 2017). That is a significant amount of water used by only the top four professional sports leagues in America. The sheer amount of water expended by only the top four leagues attests to the issue of water usage in professional sports. A single year’s worth of water would be enough to properly hydrate the entire state of Arizona – the 14th most populous state. Clearly, water intake for a professional sports league is a monotonous number – and will only increase as more teams are added to leagues. Luckily, the NHL Green Initiative aims to lessen the impact of sports on the environment.
Positive Steps in The Right Direction
Of course, sports will forever play a quintessential role in American society. Sports should not be abandoned, but like all things this large and powerful, sporting events themselves have the potential to spell out catastrophe. A proposal for improvement would be: all leagues modeling the National Hockey League’s current NHL Green initiative.
Belson (2018), a journalist at The New York Times notes that NHL Green requires all teams to log and track all consumable resources each season including all emissions from travel and waste produced. Not only does NHL Green require each team to track, but it pools all of the team information together in order to share with all teams the initiatives each club is taking to be more efficient and less wasteful. This initiative may not seem like it does the most but in an environment driven by the consumer, the individual clubs and league can determine what efforts are working best and continue to decrease the amount of food waste as well as emissions made by travel. NHL Green does not stop at tracking the impact of teams but also attends as many “Green” conferences a year as possible to educate teams and fans with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, supporting smart energy, conserving water and reducing waste.
According to NHL Green’s 2018 report, the initiative began with an emission rate of 189,503 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014 and by 2016 was able to drop the rate to 182,355 metric tons – a drop of just over 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in only two years of tracking carbon emissions. The dramatic improvement only attests to the importance of positively implementing a system of accountability. The plan will not stop at reducing carbon emissions but strives to upgrade arenas, using locally recycled materials – for example, LED lighting to reduce heat and a need for cooling mechanisms or low-water-use plumbing. Other leagues such as the NFL and MLB have implemented Green initiatives, but none of which meet the NHL Green plan.
Currently, the NFL’s Green Initiative focuses efforts during the Super Bowl. According to NFL Green’s page – the most recent article being published in 2011 – their focus is promoting renewable energy, reduced food waste, and the recycling of sports equipment. There are no published plans regarding their efforts, and due to further research the majority of their “efforts” lie in joining GSA and encouraging clubs to become LEED certified. Unfortunately, the MLB has similar guidelines. According to MLB Green’s page (2020), the MLB was the first league to have all clubs as members of GSA, partnered with promoting sustainable activities in the community during their All-Star Week. The Week’s focus is “Rock and Wrap it Up” which utilizes 36,000 pounds of prepared but untouched food and donates it to feed communities rather than sending the food to landfills. Aside from this, individual stadiums lead the way with sustainable technology, such as Safeco Field and Yankee Stadium with LED lighting initiatives. MLB Green only encourages club participation in green initiatives and lacks a laid out plan for improvement.
Thus, major league sports in the United States should take note and implement the same ideas as NHL Green. Currently, professional sports have a dramatic impact on the environment through travel as well as building and water usage calling for a different approach. NHL Green sets out a plan and not only encourages but entices their clubs through healthy competition to become the “Greenest” arenas. The ability to track and account for all emissions and consumable resources allows for the betterment of the League as a whole, while positively lessening environmental impact.
Belson, K. (2018, May 24). Sports Stadiums Help Lead the Way Toward Greener Architecture—The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/climate/sports-stadiums-environment.html
Bsales, N., & Sarkis, K. (2013, August 26). Tackling Carbon Pollution from Sports Fans. Terrapass. https://www.terrapass.com/tackling-carbon-pollutions-sports-fans
Evans, P. (2019, April 10). 11 mind-blowing facts about the US economy | Markets Insider. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/us-economy-facts-2019-4-1028101291#the-sports-industry-is-worth-nearly-75-billion11
Grant Jr, T. J. (2014). Green Monsters: Examining the Environmental Impact of Sports Stadiums. 25, 29.
Kolkey, J. (2017, June 4). Missing: 1.3 billion gallons of Rockford water—News—Rockford Register Star—Rockford, IL. Rockford Star. https://www.rrstar.com/news/20170604/missing-13-billion-gallons-of-rockford-water
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Pfahl, M. (2013, May). The Environmental Awakening in Sport. The Solutions Journal. https://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/article/the-environmental-awakening-in-sport/
Warren, G. S. (2017). Big Sports Events Have Big Environmental Footprints. Could Social Licenses To Operate Help? Forbes. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2017/12/11/big-sports-events-have-big-environmental-footprints-could-social-licenses-to-operate-help/
Being an astronaut and going to outer space has always been a large amount of children’s future dream job, but what if they could live there. The thought of living on planet Mars is both exciting and frightening. Imagine starting a whole new life on a faraway planet and adapting to brand new surroundings. What if you don’t survive the trip? What if you run out of food and oxygen? What if the experience is too scary and you want to go back to Earth? In Catherine Ingram’s writing “Facing Extinction” she has a section called “Techno Fixes and Escape to Mars”. In this, she explains her thoughts about humans living on Mars, and somewhat failed trials that were done here on Earth imitating life on Mars. Are we really destroying earth so fast
that moving to another planet is an option?
Along with living on Mars, Ingram discussed other ideas that have been stirring around that seem more realistic when it comes to trying to improve the planet. Solar Radiation Management is one idea that’s been talked about. Reflecting the sun back into the atmosphere to block sunlight, how Ingram described in her writing. Doing so would modify all the clouds, plants, and ice making them reflective. The thought of saving the planet is wonderful, but the
thought of whether or not we are helping or destroying the planet in the process is frightening. Us humans are draining Earth so fast, we have resorted to the thought of moving to another planet, and altering the one we are on now to ‘fix’ things. We humans need to step up and change the way we treat our home. Soon it won’t be our home anymore. Although moving to another planet and altering the earth is not the best solution for our problems, it is a start.
When reading this section I get confused. Not because they discuss topics I’ve never heard of, but why has it come to this. Why are we having discussions about moving to mars, not because we want to but because that might be our only option in the future. Why are we talking about modifying clouds, and plants just to maybe reflect a little bit of sunlight back into the atmosphere? Why do we have to change the earth just to somehow survive? It blows my mind that humans are so careless. I haven’t thought of what I am doing to negatively affect the earth. Reading this essay opened my eyes bigger on just how bad all the situations in this dying earth have come to.
To go into a little bit more in-depth on what trials have been tested described in Ingram’s writing, I will now give details on what Biosphere 2 was. And how we know we are far from ready to go to another planet. Biosphere 2 was a large building tested if humans could survive an
earth-like environment in space. It is a three-acre facility that contains five different ecosystems: desert, rainforest, savanna grasslands, mangrove wetland, and an ocean with a coral reef.
Pictured below is what Biosphere 2 looks like.
The first experiment included four men and four women they were known as Biospherrians. These individuals were closed in the building for two years and were given tasks to grow and produce food on their own. The experiment was not a complete success, at the beginning oxygen levels were at 20.9 and decreased significantly within the first seventeen months. The Biospherrians also struggled to produce food this could have been because of a number of
reasons. In the first six months, the group split into two. This first experiment lasted from September 26th, 1991 to September 26th, 1993. From this first experiment, they made a lot of changes and tried to improve the experiment for the next group of seven. The group didn’t even last a year though due to disputes.
The Biosphere 2 experiment shows that we are far from being ready for life on Mars. Scientists failed to trial experiments on the Earth, which they were in an environment we are already used to, imagine going to a planet without any experience of life there. If people want Mars to be a living option, we would have to do way more studies and experiments to prove we are even capable of living on a different planet and starting life all over.
Ingram includes a part in her writing that talks about a man named Elon Musk which is the CEO of Tesla and Space X. Ingram talks about how Musk thinks humans could be part cyber part human one day. Musk is experimenting on a computerized neural mesh that would be
injected into our brains that could connect your brain to a computer. I don’t know about you but that seems pretty scary to me. I would not want to be the first to trial this. Ingram thinks Musk
gives off good ideas and finds him to be a smart man.
Musk is also one of many trying to colonize Mars. “He sees the possibility for humans to become a multi-planet species which he imagines will alleviate our problems on Earth”. A quote said by Ingram explaining Musk’s thoughts. She states that she doesn’t find him evil and she likes him. Throughout her essay she makes it clear that humans are ruining the earth, so to her, the idea of moving to another planet is going to help? I don’t think that moving to another planet will
change anything in a big way. It would take millions of people to move to Mars to even see a change start to happen. Or by the time it comes around to moving to Mars, it would be too late and Earth couldn’t be fixed anymore. No communication with the outside world, a closed-in facility, starting a new life. This all seems a little stressful for most humans. I don’t think this is the most logical way to go about saving the planet.
This goes into the next part discussed in her writing, Geo-Engineering. Solar Radiation Management is one type of Geo-Engineering I mentioned in a previous paragraph. Another type
is called Carbon Capture and Sequestration. Ingram describes it as “removing carbon from the atmosphere and building facilities to store it.” Although Ingram thinks that these are more realistic, she still finds these ideas scarier than injecting your brain with a chip and moving human beings to Mars.
Ingram seems more concerned about this now dying earth that will be hard to save, than a new planet that isn’t fit for humans to live on. The way she writes this section of her essay makes it seem as though she doesn’t care about ruining another planet or injecting human brains with potential extreme errors, just how bad we are destroying the one we are on now. Yes, I do believe it is a little scary to think of the earth being altered, but you never know if it could help save our planet drastically until you try.
When you think of moving to another planet, or research the ways that may alter this world we live in today, just think of all the harmful things you do every day. In Ingram’s writing, she describes how we are planning to pack all our belongings, and move to another planet. She discusses the ways scientists are trying to alter our world. Turning us into part cyber, part human. All of this is because we decided to treat our world terrible by trashing it. What would altering our already dying planet do? How will we treat a new planet if the decision came down to move there? Lastly, what are you going to do to make your current home a better place once again?
Arizona, University. “Biosphere 2 Scientific Research Facility.” Encyclopedia Britannica.
Accessed October 25, 2019. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Biosphere-2.
Poynter, Jane. Life in Biosphere 2. Accessed October 25, 2019.
Rogers, Kara. “What Is Biosphere 2 | Biosphere 2.” Accessed October 25, 2019.
This paper compares global warming temperature limits 1.5 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius. The majority of this paper shows Robert McSweeny’s effort to gather data on the negative effects of global warming. This paper contains topics such as heatwaves and the probability of diseases increased by heat. Arctic sea ice and the amount that will be melted in less than 100 years. Comparison of a 1.5 to 2 degree limit sea level rising and heating of the ocean is also discussed. This paper will relate current events with data compiled to try and explain why lowering the limit to 1.5 is such a big deal. Explanation of the Paris Agreement and what it contains is also included in this paper. A study put together by Warren, Price, Graham, Forstenhaeusler, and VanDerWal showed the effects of insects, vertebrates, plants, etc.. in a 2 degree limit and 1.5-degree limit. Water scarcity and what will happen if we humans don’t have enough of it is also discussed in this paper.
Keywords: global warming, heatwaves, Paris Agreement, water scarcity
.5 Degree Difference
Someone may look at 2 degrees Celsius (or roughly 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and it may seem as if it isn’t a huge change in temperature. This is not the case when it comes to the Paris Agreement. 2 degrees Celsius will cause us to see a damaged and dying world sooner than we imagine. The Paris Agreement “sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C” (UNFCCC, 2019, p.1). While a 2 degree Celsius limit is the goal, we may need to further lower the limit to 1.5 degrees. When looking at the drastic changes in lowering the limit .5 degrees, it is pretty obvious we humans need to step up and make a change fast. At 2 degrees we will see major heat waves that will cause die-offs of animals, food supply, and even humans. We will experience melted glaciers and Arctic sea ice. We will see a large sea-level increase. This will all happen in less than 100 years. At a 2 degree Celsius limit, your grandchildren may not see the same world we live in today. Lowering the temperature limit to 1.5 degrees may seem like a small change, but will make a drastic difference in our future climate.
Changes Soon Becoming
Some believe that we are too late, we don’t have enough time, and think some places have already reached a 2 degree limit. It is possible though to stay below a 2 degree limit, but it involves a big step up. We all have to work together and try our hardest to save our world because if we don’t see any change, in less than 100 years we may not be happy with the result. While researching possible effects and dangers I came across an abundance of credible sites explaining why we need to lower the temp limit. Multiple diagramed charts and lists compare our world at 1.5 degrees to 2 and beyond. These charts showed drastic changes with water levels, heatwaves, damaged crops and so much more.
Climate change is bringing in a huge effect on our weather causing extreme hot summer days. They are becoming more and more frequent pouring all over the world. In 2019 a heatwave hit Europe with record breaking temperatures up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Around 2100 or even sooner, the average percentage of heat waves will increase. Below shows the average human that will experience some type of heatwave every 5-20 years. As stated in my first paragraph, even though it may seem like a small change, .5 degrees causes a substantial difference.
|2 Degree Celsius Limit
|1.5 Degree Celsius Limit
|Average human that will experience a heat wave every:
(McSweeney, 2018, p.3)
At 1.5 degrees, it is significantly lower at both 5, and 20 years when compared to a 2 degree limit. These heat waves will cause major issues with human health, sea levels, ice melting, and even crops. That is why it is necessary for us to find ways to prevent global warming from getting out of control.
Along with heatwaves, humans will also start seeing an increase in temperature in a few years. At a 2 degree limit, people will experience a 2.6 degree celsius increase for the annual maximum temperature. At a 1.5 degree limit, people will experience roughly a 1.7 degree increase. The average amount of days that will reach above the 90th percentile will increase as well. At 2 degrees it will increase by 25%, 1.5 will increase by 16%.
Diseases. Heat comes with a lot of troubles. In a study, scientists looked over the potential risk of increased malaria outbreaks in the coming years. Malaria outbreaks were typically studied based on land type (dry, humid, etc.). At a 2 degree Celsius limit, dry land percentages were up to a 27% increase compared to a 19% increase in a 1.5 degree limit. Wetlands, though we’re not as high. 2 degrees is still a bigger risk at an 8% increase compared to a 6% increase at a 1.5 degree limit (McSweeny, 2018, p.10). Dengue Fever is also becoming a concern about global warming. In one article it explained that lowering the limit to 1.5 degrees would reduce the number of Dengue Fever cases up to 3.3 million in areas such as Latin America and the Carribean alone. (UEA, 2018) Dengue Fever is mostly in warm and humid areas so the higher the temperature limit, the more cases of these diseases will occur.
Water Scarcity. Water scarcity is already a problem in some parts of the world. Heat in general will cause it to be more common for parts of the world to lack water resources. By 2100, the average amount of people that will experience water scarcity with a 2 degree limit is anywhere between 249 million to 527 million. At a 1.5 degree limit, people that will live with water scarcity is between 159 million to 353 million. (Naumann, 2018, p.1) A .5 difference will help to decrease the number of people that will be exposed to water scarcity. Water plays a big role in a lot of things in the world. If there is no water for people then they won’t have food, they won’t have drinking water, they won’t be able to keep livestock. Water is a big resource that we humans need to survive.
By 2100, sea levels will have risen over a foot high. Water levels with a 2 degree limit will rise 56 centimeters on average but could see as low as 28 centimeters to as high as 96 centimeters. When looking at a 1.5 degree limit though, the water level could be on average 48 centimeters (McSweeny, 2018, pg.6).
Hot zones are becoming more frequent as time goes by and will continue to be more common with these extremely hot days. These hot zones found in oceans have heated up to almost 3 degrees celsius warmer (Mooney, 2019, p.3). These hot zones are causing many clams and fish in the water to die. At a 2 degree warming, we will see an increase in marine heatwaves a day per year by 23 times more. At 1.5, it could be up to 16 times more.
Freezing and Melting
Arctic sea ice is beginning to melt at a faster rate than usual. Micheal Sigmond, John Fyfe, and Neil Swart put together an experiment that mimicked temperatures similar to the 1.5, 2.0 celsius limit and higher. Their experiment showed the probability of having an Arctic ice free summer under the given temp limits. The results showed that at a 2.0 degree warming, the probability of an Arctic ice free summer was 80%, following 1.5 degree warming at 10%. (Sigmond, 2018, p.2). This shows a significant difference in what to expect in the future.
McSweeny also gathered information about snow in the Northern Hemisphere. In his findings, again 1.5 temperature limit was lower than the 2 degree limit. Although they were different in numbers, it wasn’t by a whole lot.
|2 Degree Celsius Limit
|1.5 Degree Celsius Limit
|Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent in 2080
(McSweeny, 2018, p.2)
This data may surprise you. You would have figured that the temperature increase, heatwaves, ice melting would all factor in on the amount of snow we have. Even though there is a decrease in all numbers, they are both pretty close and don’t show a drastic change like the other data I have gathered through this paper.
Animals, Insects, and Plants
More and more animals are losing their homes, going extinct, and losing food supplies. In a study, four men looked at the effects on insects, vertebrates, plants, etc. Like other data I gathered, .5 degrees less makes a bigger difference than you would think. The table below shows which types of species are losing more than 50% of their climatic range in the year 2100.
|2 Degree Celsius Limit
|1.5 Degree Celsius Limit
|Species losing over 50% of climatic range
(Warren, 2018, p.1)
We will continue to see less and less of these species, but if we are able to maintain 1.5 degrees we may be able to save a lot of these species from dying and becoming extinct.
Lowering the temperature limit from 2 degrees celsius to 1.5 degrees will make a big change in the earth’s future climate. When looking at a 2 degree limit, you will see a lot of negative effects in our current world. Sea levels will rise significantly, we will see major animals dying and going extinct, heatwaves will flood the earth making it so a lot of our ice is melting more than before. A 2 degree limit is just too high for our world to handle. That is why we should lower the limit to 1.5 degrees. Although the data gathered showed that at 1.5 degree limit the topics discussed all showed a negative effect, it was a less risk compared to the 2 degree limit data. At 1.5 degrees we might be able to save our glaciers. We will be able to provide a more livable environment for animals and insects. Heatwaves won’t be as frequent, and water levels won’t be as high. Lowering the temperature limit in the Paris Agreement to 1.5 degrees should be a discussion. .5 degrees may seem like a small number but makes a huge impact on our future world.
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Will E-Mobility Hinder Climate Change?
With the world facing future crisis, the automotive industry is shifting towards a cleaner power source and more efficient technologies. Society has been a key factor in the contribution to climate, transportation in particular, has put a damper on air quality and environmental changes. Decarbonization nonetheless, is priority in a world that is expected to face critical situations in the future as a result of the broad spread of several factors that have had an influence on climate. However, it is the biggest sector that the nation is facing currently. More so, it is one of the biggest challenges to tackle with the world on a steady incline to destruction. Although electric vehicles (EV’s) have been said to have a significant impact on climate change, there have been barriers as well as demands that have not been met in order to see actual change that will put an end to climate change today.
Keywords: emissions, greenhouse gases, atmosphere, air pollution, electric vehicle (EV), electric mobility (e-mobility), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), carbon dioxide (CO2), battery powered, energy source, global warming, production, carbon-free, benefits, air quality, atmosphere, transformation, adoption, electricity, powerplant, effects
Will E-Mobility Hinder Climate Change?
As the global temperature continues to increase the search for a resolution has become an issue that more and more people are discussing across the nation. With illness and death from air pollution having been reported over the last several of years, as a result electric motors have emerged with the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Wikipedia, 2019). There is without a doubt need for a global push toward carbon free energy, or better yet, improving emissions of transportation released into the atmosphere. In attempt to counter global warming and its effects, low carbon vehicles like electric vehicles (EV’s) have been used to slow the transport of emission growth. Rather, with temperatures rising electric motors have become a source automakers have resorted to in hopes of hindering climate change. Although EV’s will not make a big enough difference to save the world from the upheaval of events that will unravel in the years to come, “EV’s are helping the nation steer towards the use of natural gas rather than coal as a lower carbon-fuel and improving air pollution.” (Chandler, 2017) Despite electric mobility (e-mobility) contributing to climate change, EV’s have a number of barriers to transportation, are still not an alternative to oil, are only temporarily beneficial because they are only as useful as their power source, and improve air pollution rather than combat climate change which is realistically inevitable to halt at this point.
Establishing Urgency of Climate Change
Michael Evans from Earth Times, (2011) estimated every year various forms of transport consume between 20% to 25% of the World’s energy and this significantly contributes to increasingly high levels of greenhouse gases that continue to be released into the atmosphere. Carbon pollution has been on a rise since 2012 and even before said year, changes throughout history have had massive impacts on the planet. It is no surprise that the world is on the brink of a catastrophic future as human activity continuously adds to global warming. With the rise in carbon dioxide concentrations creating rapidly increasing temperatures, economist Nicholas Stern from London School of Economics, warned “that a world with a net zero carbon dioxide emissions within a few decades will be absolutely necessary for society to maintain its current form, according to Peter Dizikes (2019) from MIT News. In addition, Geoffrey Smith (2017) from Fortune News, concludes that other sources of energy demand will keep upward pressure on CO2 demands. That said, the restoration of energy production, consumption, and transformation of energy use will still nonetheless, have global benefits.
Energy Source Demands
The impact of global emissions will be minimal as electricity demands continue to rise around the world ensuring that C02 levels keep rising. More importantly, it counters the objective of overcoming time as time is of the essence. Aside from the trending surge of CO2 levels, Smith (2017) expects the number of cars on the road will have doubled by 2040 reaching a high of 2 billion. Thus, this means if EV’s revolve bigger increments of electricity will be required. Accordingly, the notion that climate change is on a rapid rise, the purpose of EV’s is to become more resourceful with energy by eliminating coal fired powerplants crossing over to low emissions. And yet, there is no substitute for oil which only adds to the number of factors that will determine how effective EV’s will be in breaking climate change.
Temperature rapidly rising plunges away at any progress EV’s have had or will have on secretions and climate change. As a consistent trending rise in temperature has been recognized, the continued increase has been predicted in the years that follow. In 2017, Chandler exposes how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s commitment towards reducing greenhouse emissions concludes every year that they are not moving fast enough and redouble their efforts.
Time. If temperature is estimated to increase at a steady pace it puts an emphasis on exactly how much time it will take to make a difference and how effective EV’s will be in that given time. It foreshadows a future in which drastic changes must be made by all mankind in order to significantly make changes that will counter life altering issues that will be consequently faced. In a post made by Lindsey Wilson (2013) noted is a reality that electric vehicles are not a remedy for increasing climate changes occurring. In order to contribute to carbon being emitted it will take the entire nation to make a lifestyle change to conserve the natural environment.
EV Transition. States such as the U.S. are in higher demand of daily transportation adding to the rising CO2 levels emitted into the atmosphere. Fortune News report made by Smith (2017) draws statistics that only 2 million of a total of 1 billion electric cars or hybrid engines make up the fraction of vehicles being used that year. This means that even though there is availability, EV’s are not making a turning point for the nation. Being a leading influence on the quality of air, gas fueled transportation diminishes the gains of better air quality that EV’s empower.
Problems with Power Source
Although consumers have not adapted to the shift in the automotive industry as quickly as anticipated, the world is slowly moving away from carbon fuel and oil towards substitute power sources like that of electricity that EV’s require. When the goal is to combat climate change, take in to consideration that it all varies upon where the source of energy comes from. Therefore, EV’s electricity source will only come from part of a clean source as electric motors are only as beneficial to climate change as their source of power. Brian Kahn, from Climate Central News (2017) says “EV’s are beneficial to climate because they reduce the use of oil but require a lot more power from electric grid.” How each country energies mix develops will determine how climate friendly EV’s will be on the road. Hence, EV’s can only improve air quality where less carbon dioxide emissions are produced in regions that rely on less coal.
Electricity Deemed to Rise. To create substantial changes in mitigating the effects of global warming, everyone needs to get on board with the future of auto industry as there is no way around the critical issue of air pollutants. Despite the benefits EV’s have had this far, with a global transition to electric powered vehicles there will be a higher demand on electricity. “Low emissions, much less zero emissions, are only true in certain places where most of electricity comes from a mix of low carbon sources.” (Biello, 2016) On the other hand, keep in mind that the climate doesn’t benefit when power plants are used to generate electricity to charge EV batteries. “If methane leaks from wells where it is produced, the pipelines that transport it or the power plants that burnt it, climate doesn’t necessarily benefit.” (Biello, 2016)
Urbanization. As a result of EV’s, it has become apparent that a rise in an electrical demand is expected through 2040. Smith (2017) was able to pull liable information determining that 280 million EV’s account for a fraction of total rise in electricity demands as cited by the International Energy Agency. Rising living standards are emerging around the world and require a higher amount of electricity putting a strain on the progression of reducing harmful toxins in the air. The society today is always looking for improvement and advancement of all sorts particularly in technologies, and appliances that entail an electric powered source. The effects or a more congested range along with suburbs will be tremendous because even small appliances and internet routers will require twice as much electricity as EV’s by 2040. (Smith, 2017)
Elimination of Oil
For several years Tesla has aimed to fight and adapt to climate change as human race has had a major influence on the rise in temperature. EV’s being a prime target for cutting pollution with carbon emissions declining, clean energy continues to expand due to rapidly falling cost and wide spread adoption. (The Guardian, 2019) Adding to the reduction of greenhouse gases, Kahn (2017) states, “electric cars are the way of the future as the cost of batteries fall and the number of automakers producing a wider range of electric cars increase.” Indefinitely, EV’s are a step in the right direction to reducing greenhouse gases but can only be beneficial and true if the number of electric vehicles sales increase requiring fewer barrels of oil. As discussed by Smith (2017) regardless of breaches made, there is no alternative to oil for commercial aviation. Alone, trucks and bus transportation has been an obstacle in creating more efficient battery sources as well as defeating emissions.
Barriers to EV Transportation
Though climate change has been proved to be an imperative crisis we will all face soon, and are already undergoing today, given the circumstances electric vehicles do not seem to be a priority. EV’s were said to revolve and become widespread but that is currently a misconception. How popular are electric vehicles when most of the world is still driving gas powered vehicles? Dana Nuccitelli (2018) discloses that 97% of U.S. car sales were still purely gasoline powered vehicles.
If powerplants decarbonizing over time, climate mitigation goals could be met as EV’s could replace 90% of vehicles on the road. (Chandler, 2016) Even with that said, strongly opposing views could suggest that the cost of such a vehicle, the inconvenience of being battery powered, and the lack of charging structures has taken a toll on how effective EV’s have been or can be.
Lack of Infrastructures. There is an immediate lack of charging power stations in many places. The need for infrastructures increases as well as the cost for the establishment of these stations. Chandler (2019) provides the rational assertion that greater investment in the new technologies will be necessary to take carbon-free energy to the next step. To invest in studies and generate more efficient technologies there needs to me more funds on both the consumers end and manufacturers.
Inconvenience of Batteries. EV’s that run on battery powered energy have limited distance on a single charge compared to the range of gasoline can on a tank of gas. (Chandler, 2016) Even though both the cost of batteries as well as the life expectancy and range of batteries has improved over the years, they have also been barriers to the widespread adoption of EV’s. Chandler (2016) references to MIT team research findings that propose that the vast majority of cars on the road consume no more energy in a day then the battery energy capacity in EV’s available. If driver needs are being met, then there should be no reason why EV’s are not already sky rocketing in sales or making significant alteration.
Affordability. Prices for EV’s are higher than conventional cars, have lower maintenance and operating cost, and yet, have not met the affordability needs of consumers. At that, people would need to adopt to the new line of EV’s as well as make a sacrifice in their budgets so that EV profits can be sustained. Although they are highly rated, EV’s Tesla models have premium prices having little to no potential in the relevance of climate change.
Ultimately, there has been statistical evidence that EV’s have had an impact on reducing air pollutants and having minimal impact on reducing the rise in temperature. Therefore, EV’s don’t combat climate change but instead help improve air quality in areas that have adapted to carbon-free resources. However, even with that said, EV’s have had some beneficial effects towards the health on human race, on the economy, and in more congested areas that can benefit the most from the transition to EV’s. As EV emissions do not expose CO2 or harmful chemicals into the atmosphere they have been successful in alleviating some conditions endured by society. In conclusion, initially it is not realistic to put a complete end to inevitable shift in the climate changes seen today or predicted in the future. Time is a huge factor that counters any ambitions of being successful with the move to stabilize further damage or render climate changes at this point in time.
Biello, D. (2016, May 11). Electric Cars Are Not Necessarily Clean – Scientific American. Retrieved April 18, 2019, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/electric-cars-are-not-necessarily-clean/
Chandler, D. L. (2019a, April 9). Engineers develop concept for hybrid heavy-duty trucks. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from MIT News website: http://news.mit.edu/2019/electric-hybrid-heavy-duty-trucks-0409
Chandler, D. L. (2019b, April 9). MIT Energy Conference explores changes to the grid in coming decades. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from MIT News website: http://news.mit.edu/2019/mit-energy-conference-grid-changes-0409
Chandler, D. L., & MIT News Office. (2016, August 15). Can today’s EVs make a dent in climate change? Retrieved April 18, 2019, from MIT News website: http://news.mit.edu/2016/electric-vehicles-make-dent-climate-change-0815
Dizikes, P. (2019, April 11). Climate expert emphasizes the fierce urgency of now. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from MIT News website: http://news.mit.edu/2019/economist-nicholas-stern-warns-renewable%20energy-0411
Dwortzan, M. (2018, January 12). Charting gas and oil’s future in a decarbonizing world. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from MIT News website: http://news.mit.edu/2018/analytical-tool-charting-future-oil-gas-decarbonizing-world-0112
Evans, M. (2011, April 11). Sustainable Transport | The Earth Times | Encyclopaedia. Retrieved April 18, 2019, from Earth Times website: http://www.earthtimes.org/encyclopedia/environmental-issues/sustainable-transport/
Kahn, B. (2017, July 6). The World Is on the Brink of an Electric Car Revolution. Retrieved April 18, 2019, from https://www.climatecentral.org/news/world-electric-car-revolution-21597
Nuccitelli, D. (2018, January 22). Switching to electric cars is key to fixing America’s “critically insufficient” climate policies | Dana Nuccitelli | Environment | The Guardian. Retrieved April 18, 2019, from The Guardian website: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jan/22/switching-to-electric-cars-is-key-to-fixing-americas-critically-insufficient-climate-policies
Ricketts, C. (2011, April 9). Climate Change | The Earth Times | Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 18, 2019, from Earth Times website: http://www.earthtimes.org/encyclopedia/environmental-issues/climate-change/
Smith, G. (2017, November 15). You Think Electric Cars Will Save the Planet? Think Again. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from Fortune website: http://fortune.com/2017/11/15/electric-cars-climate-change-iea/
The Guardian. (2016, December 8). Why electric cars are only as clean as their power supply | Environment | The Guardian. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from The Guardian website: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/08/electric-car-emissions-climate-change
Wikipedia. (2019). Electric car. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Electric_car&oldid=892959715
Wilson, L. (2013, December 31). Will Electric Cars help or hinder climate action? Retrieved April 18, 2019, from shrinkthatfootprint.com website: http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/better-cities-and-better-cars
Out of all the bands I know of, none are as confusing to me as a-ha. Everyone has heard “Take On Me,” and it seems like half as many artists have covered it. If you ask a random person on the streets of any city if they’ve heard of the band a-ha, the chances of them saying yes are unbelievably high, whether it’s because they saw the video for “Take On Me” on MTV in the mid-’80s, or because they heard the Weezer cover of that same song. If they’re American, though, they probably couldn’t tell you much else, myself included. In fact, until recently, I thought a-ha was little more than a one-hit wonder from over 30 years ago, but they’re anything but.
Since 1985’s “Take On Me,” they’ve released several studio albums, written and performed a James Bond theme, and held the record for biggest paid rock concert attendance at one point, according to the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records (Guinness World Records, 156). Their most recent studio album, Cast in Steel, was released in 2015. I’ve wanted to listen to this album from the moment I heard of its existence, and I figured this music review was a great reason to do so, as well as to look into it a little deeper than the average listener. And, after listening a little deeper than I usually would, I found Cast in Steel to be one of the more vocally and harmonically beautiful collections of music I’ve heard in quite a while.
I have to be totally honest: my first impression of Cast in Steel was not so stellar. I did notice some mild, pleasing similarities to Coldplay’s sort of “epic” sound, namely in my favorite track, “Under the Makeup,” though it’s probably mostly in the instrumentation (it’s pretty hard not to sound epic with french horns and orchestral strings). However, past that, I was not particularly pleased on my first few listens. The non-orchestral instrumental parts that were performed by humans didn’t sound particularly difficult or interesting. The synth bass/drum machine combo heard in tracks like “Mythomania” and “Shadow Endeavors” sounded cheesy and, for lack of a better term, lame, at first. This couldn’t be the “Take On Me” band, could it?
Then I listened deeper, and everything changed. I must have been setting myself up to dislike Cast in Steel because once I dropped all my biases and let the music speak for itself, I fell in love. Once I stopped looking at a-ha as the
“Take On Me” band and looking at the music as just its genre, I really started to realize how beautiful it was. Harmonically, it sets itself apart from pop music with a little bit of complexity, but it’s not so unbelievably complex that it’s unlistenable. Chord progressions don’t particularly go anywhere odd, but they do go places that they don’t always go, and it helped to create something beautiful. It isn’t quite the crazy jazz-fusion chord structure I usually enjoy, but it’s still wonderful to me.
Morten Harket’s vocals are just as beautiful as they were in the ‘80s, that’s for sure. The man really makes a-ha what it is. He may not exercise his range as much as he has in past albums, but he doesn’t need to do so to sound wonderful. Every word he sings sounds like it comes from the heart. While it never ruins a song, I occasionally hear some vibrato that’s a bit too extreme for my tastes, though. I don’t generally listen to the lyrics of songs all that closely, but I’d consider them a mixed bag for this particular album. Some are very good, while others are far from that. But even when they aren’t particularly poetic, Harket’s singing makes up for it, to a degree.
As for the instrumental parts, I realized the simplicity is a good thing. Not every song needs crazy fast bebop licks to be good. I don’t even know why that was one of my complaints at first, I’m usually really into simplicity in music. Like I said earlier, I must have been setting myself up to dislike Cast in Steel because the instruments do their job of backing up the vocalist quite well. And the similarities to Coldplay’s sound may be because the lead singer of Coldplay, Chris Martin, is apparently a fan of a-ha. Perhaps it was Coldplay that borrowed the sound from a-ha in the first place? I’ll have to listen to some of their earlier albums to find out, which I’m certainly excited for if they’re anything like this one.
Now, mind you, this album isn’t quite a masterpiece, and it’s certainly far from perfect. The song “Door Ajar” is practically the antithesis to every compliment I’ve given this album. It has some interesting vocal work, but is otherwise the worst track on the album, in my opinion. Most of the singing, both melodically and lyrically, was just not as interesting to me as the rest of the album. This is also the one song whose backing instrumentals did not grow on me at all. Some other songs still don’t sound great to me, in that regard, but for the most part, I at least learned to tolerate them and appreciate the good parts. It takes a lot of self-restraint not to skip to a different song when I hear the beginning of “Door Ajar,” though. I’m not going to let one song ruin an album for me. After all, most albums I listen to only really have a handful of songs I actually enjoy. However, I would be lying if I said I enjoyed every track on Cast in Steel.
Overall, despite some trouble enjoying it at first, Cast in Steel turned out to be one of my favorite albums. It’s harmonically interesting, Morten Harket did a wonderful job singing, and the relative simplicity of most of the album’s instrumental parts lets the vocals take center stage, as well as make the more “orchestral” tracks stand out. I would definitely say it’s also one of the more consistently good albums I’ve heard, with only one song I can say I truly do not want to listen to. More than anything, this album makes me want to hear even more a-ha. It makes me want to listen to old albums to see how they got to where they are now and makes me want to pay attention to what they do in the future.
a-ha. “Cast In Steel (2015) | a-ha.” a-ha, a-ha.com/music/albums/cast-in-steel.
a-ha. “Stay On These Roads (1988) | a-ha.” a-ha, a-ha.com/music/albums/stay-on-these-roads-1988.
a-ha. “a-ha.” YouTube, YouTube, www.youtube.com/channel/UCeEi1My3KTXHT0SG1JkR9gA.
“a-ha.” Music Norway EN, musicnorway.no/artist/a-ha-2/.
Footman, Tim, editor. Guinness World Records 2001. Bantam Books, 2001.
“Take On Me – a-ha.” Last.fm, www.last.fm/music/a-ha/_/Take On Me.
World Entertainment News Network. “Martin: ‘I’m A Big Fan Of a-ha‘.” Contactmusic.com, Contactmusic.com Ltd, 23 Jan. 2015, www.contactmusic.net/news-article/martin-im-a-big-fan-of-aha.
Compared to her previous albums, Taylor Swift takes a different approach on her fourth album, 1989, named after her birth year. Swift’s usual genre is country, however, this album is a whole new style. According to Biography, Taylor started singing at a young age and she moved to Tennessee to pursue her country music career. She was just fourteen years old while she sold many award-winning country albums. Her country songs reminded me of Carrie Underwood because of the values they each wrote about, such as love and men. Both artist’s albums were well known to many country lovers, including myself. Taylor’s new album, 1989 was unfamiliar to me for quite a while, because I do not listen to pop very often. With Taylor’s new style, this album reminds me of other popular music that is over-played on the pop-hits radio, rather than Taylor’s country music that I was used to. Because of its genre-breaking new style, strong lyrics, and new musical elements, Taylor Swift’s album, 1989, is a significant turning point in her career.
Overall, this album really shows a change in Taylor’s thoughts through her personal and love life. Listening to this album, I realize that this style of music is very catchy, and Taylor does a great job of adjusting to her new sound. Some of her most known songs from this album include, “Blank Space,” “Shake it off,” “Bad Blood,” and “Wildest Dreams.” With the release of a new style of great music for Swift, 1989 won three Grammy Awards including Album of the Year in 2016. Of the thirteen songs in the album, there are only three that are not well known to many. This may be because of the lyric choice, the style, and for the melody. However, this album became popular very fast and was a significant change for Taylor and all of her fans.
The lyrics and music videos created for this new album are significantly different from her past country albums, including Taylor Swift, Fearless, and Speak Now. Her older albums told a story where she was desperate for love and a man who would feel the same about her. In her 2008 album, Fearless, the song “You Belong With Me,” is known for Taylor wanting to be in a with another teen that was already in a relationship. “If you can see I’m the one who understands you/ Been here all along so why can’t you see/ You belong with me” In the song, Taylor attempts to convince this boy that he belongs with her rather than the other girl.
In contrast, Taylor Swift’s more recent album, 1989 seems to be a response to the haters of her seeming “desperate for love” style in previous albums. Her lyrics are strong and self-confident in the way that she feels. In the song “Shake It Off,” she really emphasizes the carelessness she has towards her “haters” and the people who judge her. “I go on too many dates, but I can’t make ’em stay/ At least that’s what people say…/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate/ Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake/ I shake it off, I shake it off.” Taylor Swift’s old albums seemed to be focused on self-pity, sadness, and love, but this album is more about confidence and love. The lyrics in 1989 vary through different stories but are all very empowering and they boost the self-confidence of young women going through the same love struggles.
Taylor Swift’s voice is one to constantly be stuck in my head like a broken record. From listening to her country music when I was a child, to discovering her newer pop albums, there is something special about Taylor’s voice that will always interest me, no matter the lyrics or style. Since she started singing when she was a young teen, her voice has changed a lot because of puberty and the genre change. Overall, her voice has an appealing timbre and she is very good at matching her voice to the moods of the music.
With the types of instrumentals that I was used to, 1989’s instrumentals really hooked me and brought me to enjoy something different. In her country music, she was very guitar and drum-heavy, using mostly acoustics. However, this album is based around a pop synthesizer, voice layering, keyboards, and automated drums. I enjoyed listening to this album because it was Taylor’s first album that included these so heavily. Swift and her producers did a great job at making this album sound instrumentally pleasing to the ear and did not cease to impress me. This instrumentally diverse background music was a great help to the overall sound of the song.
Taylor Swift’s album, 1989 was an impactful turning point in her musical career by successfully transitioning from the country to pop genre. This album changed in style, emphasizing on lyric focus, instrumentals, and vocal change. The lyrical change was significant and empowering because she sent a different message in this album than she did in the previous albums. Her voice changed with puberty, as well as with the change in style. She uses a more powerful voice to send her message and her instrumentals changed a lot for the good of the songs. I predict that Taylor Swift will continue to pursue her pop music career. I would rate the 1989 album a 9/10 because it was really good for it being her first pop album! I really recommend listening to the progress and journey of her career so far. In conclusion, this album was a great start to Taylor Swift’s new genre of music through changing the instrumentals, vocals, and lyrics.
Sands, Nicole. “Taylor Swift’s Album Covers Through the Years.” People, People, 25 Aug. 2017, people.com/music/taylor-swift-album-covers-roundup/#fearless-2008. Accessed 31 Mar. 2019.
Taylor Swift Biography, A&E Television Networks, 13 Feb. 2019, www.biography.com/people/taylor-swift-369608. Accessed 31 Mar. 2019.
A Look Inside Conan Gray’s Album “Sunset Season”
The astounding musician Conan Gray, had released his latest album titled Sunset Season in the year of 2018. The album totals with five soulfully blended songs that all smoothly link together. Even though this is Conan’s first album release, it has been a huge money-maker for him; nearly every show for his 22-stop tour was completely sold out. With over a million subscribers on YouTube, it’s no shocker to see this indie-pop bedroom artist making such a dramatic rise from the ground up. Conan Gray’s style of music can be similarly compared to that of Billie Eilish, Troye Sivan, and Girl in Red, all well-known artists that have made it big in the music industry over the past three to four years. Conan Gray’s 2018 album Sunset Season perfectly captures the feeling of youthful nostalgia with the use of catchy and relate-able lyrics, dreamlike rhythms, and blended layering of tones.
The angelic album starts off with the song titled “Idle Town,” a tribute to Conan’s home town, high school, friends, and the memories he had made when he was younger. Conan captures this feeling of high-school bliss with lyrics, “Making life a spinning arcade (in our idle town) And curfews at midnight, we watch the sunrise,” as well as “everybody’s trying to escape, killing time at the yellow cafe.” The use of these lyrics combined with the soulful rhythms entwined throughout the song, helps to capture the youthful feelings and memories Conan Gray intends for the listener to comprehend. While he uses lyrics to present this blissful nostalgia, he also uses the repetitive and faint sounds of chorusing, the light sound of bike gears shifting (in the music video he is often seen riding a bike), the crisp taps of percussion, and the soothing rhythms that come from piano. This specific song happens to stick out in the most important ways, because it is the song that has set off Conan’s musical career. For further explanation of why this song is so important, it is good to know that although the album was released in 2018, this song was released as a single in March of 2017, and was written in his makeshift studio located in his bedroom. The original release of Idle Town earned over 11 million views, sending Conan Gray into stardom.
Following Idle Town comes the songs titled Generation Why, Crush Culture, Greek God, and Lookalike. Each song showcases a calming vibe that can be compared to the feeling of young and careless bliss. Generation Why is the second song on the track, flowing into the moody tone that resonates throughout the whole album. The lyrics in this song dwell into the pressure of growing up as a millennial and capture what it truly feels like as a teen in the twenty-first century. A lazy repetition of “why,why,why” carries out through the song and later fades into a simplistic beat that flows with Conan’s voice. This repetitive chorus combined with the lyrics “Cause we are helpless, selfish, one of a kind/ Millennial kids that all wanna die,” and “Something that I’ve heard a million times in my life/Generation why” seizes Conan’s realistic message of what it is like to be an anxious and struggle-filled teen in today’s world.
The next two songs Crush Culture and Greek God emphasize on the constant battles with love that teens find themselves falling into, some love battles that Conan himself had most likely fought through. Crush Culture starts off with a melodic, breathy, and booming whisper of “crush culture” that is said in a way that reminds me of young kids saying teasing phrases to each other. This rhythmic whisper carries out through the entire song and repeats as a background layer for other lyrics to soar over. Crush Culture fights against the ideology that you need to be in a relationship, and that when you find yourself having a crush you must confess those feelings. Conan contradicts this concept and rather appeals to his audience by idealizing the happiness that can be found when you are alone.
Following Crush Culture, Conan shifts into the song Greek God which expresses the feelings of love and frustration that can come from old relationships and seems to be based around someone from Conan’s past. The following lyrics express a great deal of pent up emotion that work to emphasize on Conan’s frustration. “I don’t care about your little threats, all the kids in your clique are pretend. I don’t mind when you play with my head. I flip around, play with yours instead.” Conan combines these anger filled lyrics with his melodic and carefree voice, to showcase how he truly feels. Throughout Greek God Conan continues to keep his audience entertained by spewing out lyrics full of resentment, and by continuing to make steady and swift changes in the rhythms, in which helps him keep his listeners on the very edge of their seats.
The album ends with the final track titled Lookalike. A song that manages to wrench at the strings of your heart and draws out old memories, bringing you back in time. The overall theme is based around an old-relationship that didn’t last, but continues to live on in the memories of each individual.“I hope in your head you see me instead ’cause you’ve been in mine every day since then.” The slow, melancholic lyrics leave the listener with a feeling of heartache and a sense of longing to move forward, but ultimately being stuck in the past of what had once been. Conan further expresses his pain through the use of bold piano, anguished rhythms, and emotional performance. With the combination of gut wrenching lyrics, and expressive instrumentals, this song will leave the listener in tears.
Sunset Season will bring you into a nostalgic and euphoric state of mind, which Conan Gray successfully does through the catchy lyrics and soulful rhythms that he artistically displays in each song on the album. Anyone who listens to Sunset Season will undoubtedly be wowed by the raw artistic talent Conan pushes into the music industry, an industry that I predict he will continue to thrive in. This is an album I highly recommend all readers to listen to, so you can relive the beautiful memories of youth through the momentous musician that is Conan Gray.
- Gray, C., Official Merchandise store. (n.d.). SUNSET SEASON-CD [Digital image]. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://images.app.goo.gl/1KprovhavB6mGTdCA
- Gray, C. (2018, October 03). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=entVpj_IT6M&feature=youtu.be
- Stuff, C. G., Tumblr fan account. (n.d.). [Image from Conan Gray’s music video of Generation Why]. Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://images.app.goo.gl/rxcYhd7piWLrq9cu6
- (2018, October 03). Retrieved April 7, 2019, from https://youtu.be/entVpj_IT6M
- Gray, C. (n.d.). Crush Culture [Digital image]. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from https://images.app.goo.gl/aehpAzs931XMbbWs9
- (2018, November 15). Retrieved April 9, 2019, from https://youtu.be/ZKff6nOQMA0