With the issue of climate change growing in urgency and becoming completely undeniable, there is a need for better and more involved conversations about how to tackle the problem.
Enter Jeremy S. Hoffman, a Ph.D. candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Oregon State, who’s helping to bring those conversations to the mainstream with his own brand of outreach.
This past September, Hoffman recorded and released “The Sound of Skeptics,” a parody song in the style of the Simon and Garfunkel classic “The Sound of Silence” that highlights the issue with skeptics dismissing the very real issue of climate change. Hoffman also filmed a music video to go along with the song. Soon after its release, the video was picked up by Upworthy.com. Hoffman then became a bit of a viral hit.
“That article was ‘liked’ and shared over 20,000 times and then the video was being viewed all over the world,” Hoffman said. “Once I saw that the video had made it into a science classroom in South Korea, I knew it had made an impact. My initial reaction was mostly one of disbelief, but then of gratitude, because I saw how it was being used for education and as a talking point for people going to Paris for the UNFCCC climate summit.”
While others see social media hollowing out important conversations, Hoffman finds social media to be a useful medium for involving the public in complex pursuits like the sciences.
“Social media is one of my favorite ways to engage the public in the sciences—it gives you the opportunity to present the concepts in ways you don’t normally get to at the academic level,” Hoffman explained. “I guess it can have more ‘personality’ in this way. For example, I post ‘paleoclimate haikus’ on my Twitter [@jer_science]. I expect to continue doing this for as long as I can.”
Hoffman plans to record further science-tilted tunes in the near future, but has a few educational goals to accomplish first.
“I’m expecting to release a video about Greenland ice core science [the song will be to the tune of Johnny/June Carter Cash’s “Jackson”] before the spring,” Hoffman said. “If I’m lucky, I can film another one before that, but I need to finish my Ph.D. here at OSU sometime soon, too.”
If you’re interested in any of the science work going on at Oregon State, Hoffman encourages you to simply reach out to the scientists on campus to learn more.
“I guarantee they’ll tell you all about it.”
By blending classic tunes with complex scientific issues, Hoffman will hopefully help educate the masses for years to come. Though if he wants to reach the current generation of young’uns, he may have to go a little more contemporary with something like a One Direction cover that details the growing problem of ocean acidification.