At first glance, ABBA might seem like a strange place for the climate movement to look for advice… I mean, they are Swedish, once came out in defense of Greta Thunberg, and on their latest album, they even wrote a song about the loss of bees, but still. Waterloo? Super Trouper? These songs don’t exactly scream climate activism.
After you’ve finished listening to “Bumblebee,” though, you can get to thinking about what their story offers the climate movement. Here’s a hint — you won’t find ABBA’s biggest contribution to the climate movement in their lyrics. ABBA’s not here to teach us how to make a great throwback pop banger, they’re here to teach us about longevity. Their story is one of experience, comebacks, and late-in-life action (the band is all in their 70s).
For those who don’t know, ABBA came back after a 40 YEAR hiatus to create their latest album, Voyage (out today). Let me note — this is . ABBA initially got together in 1972. This was way back when in movement heyday, right after the tremendous social movements of the 1960s and just two years after Congress passed the Clean Air Act. Just like our movement for progressive change, starting in the 1980s, ABBA was out of the spotlight for many years. Today, they showed us what a comeback can look like.
So can we. It is true that in the past 40 years, the climate justice movement has had its fair share of losses. It is true that we have not made anywhere near the progress we need. But, we can win big now. In fact, we must win big now.
Part of what will help us make a comeback for climate is experience from huge movements that hit their peak in the 60s and 70s. Did you listen to ABBA when they initially ruled the airwaves? You might have just the kind of life knowledge and experience the climate movement needs! As a youth group, we often talk about the power of youth in this movement. We have the most to lose, and it is true that we are a vital part of this global movement. However, we cannot do this alone. It is unreasonable to put things like “saving the world,” “inspiring hope,” and “speaking truth to power” solely on the backs of the world’s youth. We need EVERYONE.
So, if you’re an older person who hasn’t felt invited to this movement — today’s your day. We need you, and we’re excited to learn! Just as ABBA can throw down hits in 2021 just as well as in 1981, so can you. Consider joining Bill McKibben’s latest project, the new movement Third Act — for experienced Americans, because some things (and people) get better with age.
As ABBA sings on their latest album, “But in the shape and form, I appear now/ I have learned to cope, and love and hope is why I am here now/ And now you see another me, I’ve been reloaded, yeah/ I’m fired up, don’t shut me down.”
And if the fossil fuel companies, big banks, and complacent world leaders ever do try to shut your activism down — just remember that ABBA is always here to cheer you up for the next battle — with the absurdity of Mamma Mia. You’ll be singing, “Here I go again!” before you know it.