Troubled Planet: A musical portrait of climate change

Constantly being bombarded by news and images about climate change can trigger a wide range of strong emotions, many of which can be hard to express coherently. Composer Penny Squire has sought to represent these emotional reactions in a string quartet called 'Troubled Planet' in an attempt to encourage people to talk about the dangers of climate change and what must be done to protect our planet.

Troubled Planet
Troubled Planet
Green World

Our comprehension of climate change and our coming to terms with the scale of challenge we face often develops through a series of emotional reactions, from sadness to anger, from fear to hope. Having experienced those emotional responses herself, composer Penny Squire has sought to express these through music, in the form of a 15-minute string quartet entitled, ‘Troubled Planet’.

With music performed by the Cotswold Ensemble played over Greenpeace archive footage, Squire’s work aims to raise awareness of the impacts of global warming by eliciting an emotional response from people through the use of her music.

The piece takes the listener through five movements – The Realisation, The Sadness, The Anger, Skating on Thin Ice and The Hope – and the whole project was realised with the help of family members, including her daughter who produced the artwork and nephew who took care of the sound recording.


Commenting on the project and her inspiration for pursuing it, Squire said: “I first heard about global warming in the late 1970s  when it was not considered to be a problem for maybe 100 years. Like other people I knew, I tried to run my life and home so that I was part of the solution and not part of the problem. Time has gone by, arguments from climate deniers have raged, oil companies and big business have flourished, consumerism and travel have become an essential part of many people’s lives, and all this has helped cause a dangerous rise in global warming. 

“I felt so frustrated with the lack of any real dealing with the issue that I expressed my feelings in a string quartet, which I called ‘Troubled Planet’. I put film over it from the Greenpeace archives and used a picture of the torn-apart planet to represent how I felt. I hope it will inspire people to think and talk about the serious situation we have created, and to feel encouraged to adjust their lives. Music and art can be very powerful in bringing an emotional response to a problem. When the images we see everyday on the news are put together with music it gives us the opportunity to consider what actions we can take.”

‘Troubled Planet’ is available in full on Youtube and more information on Penny Squire’s music is available on her personal website.