The Copenhagen Mash: Could a Dreadful Music Video Help Climate Change Talks?

As you must know by now, the world will gather in Copenhagen, Denmark in December to try to hash out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Given recent reports that climate change is accelerating at an even faster rate than anticipated, it is essential that world leaders come together to find real solutions to a genuine crisis.

Which, of course, means that somebody thought it would make an awesome music video (h/t).

This dreadful mess is the product of “Time for Climate Justice” and its “Tck Tck Tck” campaign, which seeks to “help bring about a global revolution, make governments take climate change seriously and actually tackle it.” 

TCJ seeks to bring the voice of those most affected by climate change — the voiceless millions who “die every year because of climate change, for those whose communities and economies are ruined by cyclones, floods, droughts and crop failures. It is justice for the young and future generations who will face greater catastrophes if something isn’t done today. Ultimately, everyone deserves Climate Justice, because everyone will be affected, some day sooner rather than later.

It’s an important and worthy goal.  But TCJ’s approach doesn’t really have any chance of influencing world leaders (or giving voice to those for whom they claim to speak). “Beds are Burning” is little more than a slick Madison Avenue-style publicity campaign that will make a few musicians (and impossibly hot actresses) feel better about themselves. 

But wait! You can feel good about yourself too! Simply upload a clip of you saying “tck” to their website!

I swear I’m not making this up.

TCJ’s campaign is but the latest example of what I like to call activist narcissism, the impossibly naive belief that getting a bunch of beautiful people together to preen and act outraged is an adequate substitute for real change.  If these musicians (and impossibly hot actresses) really want to effect change, perhaps they can stop flying around the world on private jets and living in 10,000 sq. ft mansions.

I blame Will.I.Am, the patron saint of the inspiring-multiple-trendy-musicians-and-impossibly-hot-actresses-who-think-they can-sing-mash-up.  And as inspiring as “Yes We Can” may have been, can we agree to an immediate United Nations-brokered moratorium on such nonsense?

It’s telling that Peter Garrett, the lead singer of Midnight Oil — and current Australian Minister for Environment — declined to participate.  The irony, of course, is that Garrett is now doing more to address climate change than Mila Jovovich and her beautiful friends could ever hope to do.

Oh, one other little thing.

This song isn’t about global warming.  It’s about returning land to native Australians.  In 2000, Midnight Oil performed it at the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics while wearing all-black tracksuits that said “sorry” on them — a reference to then-Prime Minister John Howard‘s refusal to apologize to Aborigines for the theft of their land and destruction of their culture.

Given that inconvenient truth, you’d think that those who decided to adopt it as an anthem for climate change just might have wanted to, oh I don’t know, kinda sorta of maybe included someone from that community in the remake?

Here’s a suggestion.  Let’s treat the danger of climate change with the respect and the seriousness it deserves.  Demand that our leaders (including President Obama) do what is necessary to make the Copenhagen summit a success.

But whatever you do, please don’t show them this godawful puddle of well-meaning poo — unless you’re looking to give Hu Jintao a good laugh. / CC BY 2.0
Charles J. Brown is Senior Fellow and Washington Director at the Institute for International Law and Human Rights and the host of Undiplomatic, a blog on the intersection of foreign policy, politics, and pop culture.  You also can follow him on Twitter.


LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

Elizabeth L.
Elizabeth L.8 years ago

What a great way to sidetrack Mr. Brown! Instead of discussing any benefits of the grassroots campaigns, you are now a music video critic. I guess you need to change your organization's name to the Institute for International Law and Human Rights and Music Video Criticism. The intent is good and a friend sent me the video and it was just like an alarm clock! Yes, I had read about the Summit but it had to wake me out of my doldrums and remind me that I need to act and so do you all. Twitter, or e-mail our President and any members of Congress so true public opinion is known and not just what is offered up to use by our "News" channels. Encourage others to take a minute and let their voice be heard. Yes you can: @BarackObama or

Maybe you all will send so many that it will get attention just by the sheer volume?
Send out info-e-mails to engage and educate everyone you know and barely know.

Yes, there are people who still believe that there is no climate change but remember there were people and institutions who believed that the world was flat and tried to quash anyone whole presented facts otherwise.

Judith H.

Music is the universal language and can bring about awareness in countries where people cannot read, like America. Lots of chatter yet denying Global Warming, and Climate Change. But this is happening too fast. Most recommendation would benefit the planet, the air and quality of life so what is the difference if it is not caused by humans. So much controversy. It is true that even the Himalayan Mountains glaciers are melting and the people in the cities below are facing devastation with no water source. Yet they say areas in South America are getting colder and the snow pack is getting larger. Guess everyone will need to relocate and all will be well for another 100 years til we ruin it again?

Jackie Bowen
Jackie Bowen8 years ago

And yadda,yadda, yadda.....(yawn:o) didn't we see these statements made in the "We Are the World" video?...yeah(scratching the back of my neck)...I don't think that put that in the Who wan'ts to be a millionaire..shoot, not me! hee hee

Nancy W.
Nancy W8 years ago

Hello Brave new world... it gets more bizarre by the minute like the video shows. Something wrong? lets make it entertainment! Make the world feel better while the majority gets flushed down the tubes. Does it work? I sure hope so. But how do you measure it. Better somebody does something and the rest of us will just sit, watch and pay.

Koo J.
greenplanet e8 years ago

I have mixed feelings about this video. On one the hand, it seems a vanity project; on the other anything that gets the message out to young people is all right. Have to say I don't know who all the singing "celebs" are though.

Sad that Peter Garrett has sold-out.
Hope that mine isn't on Aboriginal land -- well, it probably is, since once all the land was Aboriginal land.

"Does that include approving a multi-billion dollar Chinese iron ore mine in WA and downplaying an oil spill in the Montaro Basin, that has been flowing for more than three weeks and spilled at least 1,200 tonnes of oil into the sea, killing birds and harming marine life? Mr Garrett has claimed that there has been no damage to marine life as a result of this spill."

Julieta S.
Julieta S8 years ago

global warming is a myth... i mean... the people drowning in floods and the latest extremes in weather are just in our mind... damned polar bears just stop thinking your dying and you will just stop doing so... and you famous people stop doing stupid pro-something videos and better go back to wasting the money in huge houses and implants, how dare you care!!

Ruthi B.
Ruthi B8 years ago

After all I said earlier though, I should mention that there is one thing that I quite agree with you Charlie - this video is awful! Or rather the music, I liked the video itself, but the music is uninspiring and badly done. I was disappointed, this song (despite the unrelated origins) could be a strong cry against climate change. Instead it sounds more like a gentle whimper.