Can a musical approach grab America’s attention about the impending effects of climate change? The folks at Public Radio International are willing to try. The news outlet has created an infectious visual/audio tool by mashing up data from this report on rising sea levels by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”
Here’s PRI’s explanation:
We’re using sound and video to illustrate the projected floods.
Think of the number of tidal floods as the tempo of a song, say Vanilla Ice’s rap single “Ice Ice Baby.” The number of floods that we experience today might look normal, and this is represented by “Ice Ice Baby” played at its normal tempo. Now try this: for every increase of 10 floods in a year, speed up the song by one second.
Users can click to hear the tune in “present day time,” and then project forward to 2030 and 2045. The more flooding, the faster the song plays. And yes, there’s video. You can hear for yourself here. It may seem a bit silly, and Vanilla Ice might not be the first artist who comes to mind when you think “public radio,” but it’s pretty effective.
A new PRI tool uses “Ice Ice Baby” to let users “hear” the sound of the future of urban U.S. flooding.
PRI reports, “[The study] projects how many tidal floods will hit 52 locations along the East and Gulf Coasts in the next 30 years. The numbers are pretty gruesome. For example, Washington, D.C. will face 388 tidal floods in a year in 2045, a nine-fold increase from the current 43 tidal floods a year. Key West, Florida, might lose its charm in 2045 when the number of tidal floods are projected to skyrocket 71 times from 3 in a year to 212.
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.