Tipping Points Summer Show

Tipping points started out as a conversation in the dark January of 2022 in the North West Highlands of Scotland.  As the rain lashed outside we contemplated what would happen if the gulf stream that keeps the Western fringe of the British Isles shifted as a consequence of accelerated climate change.  Research has shown that global warming may trigger irreversible changes to our planet - known as Tipping Points.

I listened to a series by BBC Climate Correspodent Justin Rowlatt which explored the nature of Tipping Points through the lens of science and society.  It stuck me that humans have a duty to enact a social tipping point, and that music could be part of that.  I started work with my partner Dr Lucy Beattie who is a social scientist who has investigated aspects of science communication through her research work and the idea of Tipping Points Land and Sea took shape.

Luke and Prof Andy Neal at Ulluminate
Luke and Professor Andy Neal perform at Ulluminate 2024

Tipping Points heads to Europe

We worked around the concept of Solastalgia.  This is a word coined by the Australian philisopher  Glen Albrecht which describes a confluence of solace and nostalgia that is felt by humans when reflecting on the loss and distress experienced by environmental change in their home environment. Undoubtedly folk music has mapped the history of land, sea and environment for centuries: from Robert Burns' words on Westlin' Winds immortalised by Dick Gaughan to to Joni Mitchell's plea to farmers to stop using DDT on their crops - there are numerous examples.

Working with source material from Scientific Journals such as Nature and research from Exeter University we aimed to discover how the combination of Folk music and Science Communication could create a show to bring scientific research about climate and environment to a broader audience.  Music as a social process is very conversational, it breaks down barriers and as such it is a means to develop a democratic exchange between scientists and non-scientists.

We were able to take our show with the support of The University of the West of Scotland to:

Reykavik 2022: Arctic Circle Assembly in 2022 
Rotterdam 2023: The Public Communication of Science Conference (PCST23) 
Oxford 2024: The Oxford Real Farming Conference
Scotland 2024: Ulluminate Festival

Professor Andy Neal joins the band

In 2024 we started to work with Prof. Andy Neal from Rothamsted Research who is an eminent soil scientist and an accomplished Double Bass player who performs with the Devon Philharmonia among others.  This has brought a new phase to the Tipping Points Show which will travel to the South West this summer to perform this show as a cameo at Dartmoor Folk Festival, Sidmouth, the Rothamsted Institute and at a soon-to-be announced location in Cornwall.

Moving forward, lets bring a social tipping point!

In the UK we can be sentimental about the loss of the Elm, the Ash or fact that we may never ice skate on the River Thames.  However, our privileged position in the Global North is dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of change that countries in the Global South face.  The concomitant challenges of climate change, poverty and lack of resource in places such as Bangladesh or Pakistan for example both of which have experineced catastrophic floods.

The fears around climate change for young people are very real, and for myself included I now think about the future for my own children if we do not act now to change the way we think and behave we are not fulfilling our duty as guardians of this earth for future generations.

I believe that music is fundamental to bring social change, to reach people in ways that traditional conversations around science and society cannot always acheive and this is the key aim of Tipping Points.