“Action holds hope”: Children’s songwriter Raffi hopes to teach kids about climate change

BOSTON — So many kids over countless generations have grown up singing Raffi songs like “Baby Beluga”, “Down By The Way”, or “The More We Get Together.” Now, this music legend is embarking on a new task to inspire children to fight against climate change.

Unavailable over the banana phone, WBZ-TV’s Jacob Wycoff caught up with Raffi Cavoukian over Zoom at his home in British Columbia, Canada. This is a region impacted by intense heat waves and expansive wildfires.

“Summers shouldn’t be a season you dread. Summers should be a period that we look forward to. It’s not just a future thing, climate change, it’s with us,” said Raffi.

Raffi points back to a moment back in 1989 when Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki did an in-depth radio broadcast about global warming.

“When I heard that unless we took action, things might get to a point where the warming might be irreversible. That word irreversible sent shudders through me. I responded with my whole self,” Raffi said.

In the years since, he’s stepped up his efforts to reach, what he calls his Beluga Grads.

“Tens of millions have grown up singing my songs. That’s a pretty big pool to reach out to. I do my best on social media and other ways to reach out to them,” Raffi said.

Raffi is part of a growing ensemble of artists using their music to inspire change. For instance, the Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi performed his piece “Elegy for the Arctic” on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean. World-renowned cellist and Cambridge resident Yo-Yo Ma has spoken in front of the United Nations for climate change awareness.

“If we are going to succeed in our goal of creating change for the climate, we actually have to achieve more than action, but we actually have to change hearts and minds,” said Ma during his UN speech.

Changing hearts and minds may start with a philosophy that Raffi calls child honoring.

“Why do you think that love for kids is so powerful that it can literally change the world?” Wycoff asked Raffi.

Quickly and thoughtfully, he said, “Because it changes us. When we have a child, we’re changed. We’d give our lives for the well-being of this child. Love is a prime motivator and I think it could be a wonderful balance to the fear we might feel about the changes in climate that we are experiencing.”

In the crescendo of climate data pointing to a warming climate, Raffi remains optimistic about the energy from our future generations.

Raffi said, “When I’m asked about hope, here’s what I say. My hope is action. Action holds hope, inaction does not.”


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