Rosa Boscan – Environmental Music

Rosa Boscan

Preface: My name is Rosa Boscan and the title of this portfolio is Healing Earth Through Music. The Creative Commons license being used for this work is CC-BY-NC.

Healing Earth Through Music

Humanitarian aid is typically seen in fundraising or providing resources for communities that may need them. In the last century alone the world has seen more environmental issues come to light than prepared to handle. It doesn’t help that as the years progress these issues seem to worsen and the answers to the problems never seem to be found. While it does feel helpless sometimes through innovative humanitarian aid individuals have found a way to fundraise and bring a message of hope to people. Through the use of music, environmental issues can be brought to light but also provide a new way to bring resources to people that need them.

One theme that is expressed in these works is Earth is worth fighting for. By making this music, by taking the initiative to raise awareness these individuals are essentially tasking themselves with the role of protecting the Earth. In the images and songs being explored in this portfolio individuals are seen fighting for a cause. They’re using their voices, posters, and music to help the Earth. All the protests and the songs all have the end goal of making sure Earth is habitable for one more day. No one can get rid of the environmental issues that plague the Earth completely, but the issues that are being faced in the present can be dealt with. These individuals have taken the duty of trying to fix these issues others have deemed impossible. Another theme which is expressed in the art is Earth as home; especially in the music the notion that Earth is the one and only planet that we have is seen. Earth is our planet. Earth is home to every individual, species, plant, animal, even bacteria that inhabit it. These two themes combined show a beautiful story of individuals wanting to look out and protect their home.

We Are The World

The first song being analyzed is We Are The World by USA for Africa. In the 1980s Ethiopia faced a famine crisis so bad it’s known as one of the worst crises seen in the 20th century. It was a catastrophic event which brought nations, organizations, and people together like never seen before. Not only was this crisis severe, but it was on a scale never witnessed before. According to the United Nations between the years of 1983 and 1985 around 1 million lives were lost due to famine. This crisis had the attention of the entire world as people came together to try and come up with ways to help provide relief and aid to the populations being faced with such an environmental shock.


“Usa for Africa – We are the world” by Fabio Meoni is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


The famine crisis faced by Ethiopia was on such a large scale, it truly was one of the first times governments and organizations needed to deal with something this big. Due to this fact the crisis also needed innovative ways to fundraise and help the country in the long run. This is how the song came to be. In an unprecedented manner artists of every kind came together to sing on one song and led to raising over 60 million dollars. This was the first time in the music industry where such a project came to be. Not only was it a big deal as the artists were some of the biggest at that time, but also it ended up raising more money and selling more records than anyone could have predicted. The act of artists coming together through music was the first of its kind but it left a lasting effect on generations to come. People coming together through music as a way to give back to the planet we live in plays into the idea as humans are the protectors of Earth. It is up to us to come together in times of need to look out for one another and simply lend each other a hand. Everyone lives on the same planet and the least that anyone can do is be a good neighbor and a good inhabitant to a planet that already has given so much. USA for Africa was a turning point for humanitarian aid as it was the first project of its kind. Due to the popularity and impact it had on the Ethiopia crisis it’s a project that anyone can come back to when hope and light is needed. It also set a precedent for future artists to collaborate when the world is going through environmental issues as way to not only lift up people’s spirits, but give back to the places that need the help. Just like the song title says “we are the world” and only we can be the ones to find it in ourselves to look out for one another and save each other when it’s needed. It’s not about giving back in a wrong or right way, or thinking that humanitarian aid only has one shape and form. It’s about looking within ourselves and realizing that the Earth is our one and only home and we have to take good care of it regardless the circumstances.

Almost Like Praying

The next song to be analyzed will be Almost Like Praying by Lin – Manuel Miranda featuring Artists for Puerto Rico. In September of 2017 Puerto Rico was devastated by a category 5 hurricane. Similar to any natural disaster, the hurricane caused havoc in the country leaving many without water, food, electricity, and other necessities. While many governments tried to fundraise and bring relief to the island, the United States lacked in their response to help the nation that was essentially ruined by this hurricane. To this day the island is still trying to get back to where it once was, residents still dealing with insufficient housing and utilities. However, as the federal government lacked aid towards the island, artists from the island came together to create a song that would bring hope and raise funds to be donated towards relief aid.  

“Breaking the Silence on Puerto Rico’s Crisis” by joepiette2 is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.  


People weren’t silent with their dissatisfaction with the United States government’s response to the crisis. Protests were organized, petitions created, people came together to try and lend a hand to a nation that needed it the most. This sentiment can also be reflected in the song lyrics of Almost Like Praying. The song itself was inspired by Maria from the musical West Side Story. This alone is important as the hurricane that destroyed the island was named Maria. By taking this song whose name has a negative connotation and converting it into something that can bring hope to people’s lives is exactly why music can be so crucial in times of need. Not only is the music and title significant but so are the lyrics. The song starts with “Say it loud and there’s music playing”. These lyrics almost parallel the image above as the people in a protest are being loud, they’re vocalizing their unhappiness, concerns, issues, and more. Even though hardships and disasters are being faced, something as beautiful as music can be created and felt. It shows the Earth and nature as healing for humans. Just simply being vocal about protecting this environment, showing outrage for the mistreatment of the 87 Puerto Rican towns can soothe a person. As the song continues the next set of lyrics go, “Say it soft and it’s almost like praying”. Praying is where one can find themselves in their most vulnerable position, but also where they can heal the most. So, the song saying to speak softly is in a way to pray for the situation is just like the people in the back of the image. These individuals aren’t the ones shouting and making themselves the most vocal, but they’re still looking out for their home and their families. In their support alone they’re opening themselves to be vulnerable but through opening about their hardships, they’re also alleviating their own pain. When looking back at this image and this time in history, the failure of federal government’s will be witnessed but so will the kindness and healing of nature.  


The last song that is going to be analyzed is Earth by Lil Dicky. The song itself revolves around climate change; however, it was inspired due to the wildfires that California was facing in 2019. Wildfires in California are not new, yet as the years progress, they seem to get worse. In 2019 alone there were over 7,860 different wildfires all over the state of California. The main reason as to why these fires seem to get worse and seem to last longer every wildfire season is due to climate change. Over the past couple of years, the Earth has become increasingly warmer due to the greenhouse effect. Essentially the heat received by the sun typically is reflected into space and out of the atmosphere. However, it’s been observed that not all the heat is reflected and instead there’s an accumulation of gases in the atmosphere which leads to the overall increase in Earth’s temperature. While efforts have been made to try and combat climate change like the Paris Agreement in 2016, not enough has been done. 

“Polar Bears protesting for humans affected by Climate Change” by Oxfam International is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. 

Climate change is one of the ongoing environmental issues our planet is facing. There have been various movements and laws to try and reverse the effects of climate change. Although a lot has been done, it has not been enough. In times where it feels like the right answer can’t be found, it is time to become innovative and look at things through a different perspective. That’s exactly what Lil Dicky does in his song Earth. It takes a comedic approach to raising awareness about climate change while still providing facts and the truth to listeners. Unlike other songs, the individuals involved personify themselves as the Earth. In the song it isn’t humans trying to fight for their Earth, instead it’s the animals that also inhabit this planet. Just like the image of protestors dressed as polar bears, when speaking about climate change it can’t only be focused on the humans. Animals and other species have the same rights as humans do to live in a healthy and thriving planet. This isn’t an environmental issue that only affects a certain group of people or only one country, it’s something that affects every living being on this planet. When raising awareness about climate change it can’t only be focused on the humans, which is why this song and image are so crucial. Instances like this help reshape the climate change conversation and make sure it’s one that truly benefits every living thing. While also reshaping the climate change conversation it also brings to light how some are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change then others. Humans can speak to one another, there are little to no barriers to get ideas across nations. The same can’t be said for the rest of the species that fill up every corner of this Earth. Not to mention there are countries who simply don’t have as many resources to keep up with the more developed countries. It’s very easy to forget about these individuals when it’s the same main countries controlling the conversation. Although an unconventional approach to talk about climate change, it’s the one that somehow manages to bring everyone into the conversation.  

Environmental music is important to society as it highlights the good in human nature. Through music people from all around can come together to be united under one message. Not only can it bring back faith for individuals, but it also produces monetary compensation. Thmoney raised goes directly back to the people that need it the most. When people think music, they don’t automatically think humanitarian aid. Music provides an unconventional manner to combine activism and awareness. It’s one of few things that has no barriers. No matter who the individual is, through music anyone can understand the message being portrayed. Something as simple as a melody in a song can help bring back so much hope and light into someone’s life. Combine the healing ability music contains with a message to help others and people will listen no matter the genre. Although it’s not the standard way to fight for someone’s home, environmental music is another step forward. The music reminds everyone of one of the most important messages: Earth is our home, and we have the responsibility to fix what’s broken with it.  


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“The Causes of Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 10 Nov. 2020,

Contreras, Felix, and Robin Hilton. “Lin-Manuel Miranda Explains How He Made His New Benefit Song For Puerto Rico.” NPR, NPR, 6 Oct. 2017,

“Hurricane Maria: Puerto Ricans Say All Levels of Government Failed Them after Devastating Storm.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Sept. 2018,

“Lin-Manuel Miranda (Ft. Alex Lacamoire, Ana Villafañe, Anthony Ramos, Camila Cabello, Dessa, Ednita Nazario, Fat Joe, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gina Rodriguez, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Joell Ortiz, John Leguizamo, Luis Fonsi, Marc Anthony, Pedro Capó, PJ Sin Suela, Rita Moreno, Rubén Blades & Tommy Torres) – Almost Like Praying.” Genius, 6 Oct. 2017,

Pierre-louis, Kendra, and John Schwartz. “Why Does California Have So Many Wildfires?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Aug. 2020,

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“We Are The World.” USA For Africa,


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Rosa Boscan - Environmental Music Copyright © by Rosa Boscan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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