Join us for Massey is Missing COP26 throughout 2021

Massey is very proud of our climate action series, Massey is Missing COP26. 

If you’ve missed any of the events from November 2020 to now, scroll to the bottom of the page. They can be viewed on our YouTube channel.   

NEXT: ClimateMusic Icarus Concert: What Does Global Heating Feel Like?

April 27th from 7-8:15pm ET

Join us as we take an extraordinary musical journey through time to explore three human drivers of climate change. We will be featuring an excerpt of Icarus in Flight by composer Richard Festinger in collaboration with The ClimateMusic Project. The evening will include an opportunity to engage in conversation about the music and the science underlying it with the composer and ClimateMusic Project Executive Director Stephan Crawford. Q&A to follow. Moderated by Senior Fellow Dr. Dianne Saxe

This event is presented in partnership with ClimateMusic Project.

Watch the event here (live or after the event.)

Program notes for Icarus in Flight by composer Richard Festinger:

In modeling the earth’s changing climate, my new quartet, Icarus in Flight, uses historical data on population growth, carbon emissions and land-use transformation, during the period 1880 projected out to 2080, to control certain aspects of the music.

  • Population growth controls the average density of musical events over time, increasing, in the worst case, by a factor of 9. In this context, density means the number of musical events in a given time period (if more than one instrument initiates an event at the same time it is still considered one event).
  • Carbon emissions control the frequency range of the music, from lowest to highest pitch, increasing gradually from a perfect fifth in the middle register to a span of 6.25 octaves, before collapsing to almost nothing. 
  • With respect to land-use, an increase from 13% to 43% of the earth¹s land surface devoted to human use (i.e. habitation, agriculture and grazing) is represented by the increasing proportion of music that is played with specialized timbres (tone colors), including mainly pizzicato, tremolo bowing, and bowing close to the bridge (producing a fragile timbre characterized by a greater proportion of high frequency partials).

The era of international cooperation on climate change begins circa 1979.  If one listens closely one can hear fleeting moments of repose on the interval of a major 3rd marking the dates of international meetings.

Icarus in Flight is comprised of three large sections played without pause: the first representing the years 1880 to 1945, when the data are growing slowly; the second from 1945 to 2015 when growth accelerates exponentially; and the third from 2015 to 2080.  In the last section, our future, the controlling data alternate between the best and worst case future scenarios (i.e., representative concentration pathways 2.6 and 8.5) based on the models developed by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations. Each year occupies eight seconds of musical time, the entire piece lasting about 27 minutes. 

The title of my new quartet offers a metaphor for the trajectory of climate change.  Imprisoned by King Minos on the isle of Crete, the brilliant Athenian craftsman Daedalus fashioned wings of feathers fixed with wax for himself and his son Icarus, so to escape from the isle by flight.  Daedalus warned his son against flight too low or too high, to avoid both the ladening dampness of the sea and the wax-melting heat of the sun. Elated by the thrill of flight, Icarus ignored his father¹s admonitions, venturing high into an environment too warm to sustain him.


Future events include:

Indigenous Climate Action

Climate Law and Trade Law: Do They Collide?

Climate Refugees – What Should We Do?

Massey’s Own Carbon Footprint – Premises, Operations, Investments and Next Steps

Municipal Climate Action

Stay tuned for more information and please return to this webpage for updates.

We would love to hear from you! Any fellow of Massey College who is interested in getting involved in this evolving initiative, in helping to organize and put on these events, or who has ideas for additional sessions, please let us know by emailing

Rosemary McCarney and Dr. Dianne Saxe

Massey is Missing COP26


COP26, the annual global gathering of climate experts and governments, was scheduled to be held November 9-20, 2020 in Glasgow. As the fifth such meeting since the critically important 2015 Paris Agreement, COP26 was to be pivotal in assessing progress and in strengthening commitments to slow global heating while it is still possible to preserve a stable climate.

Due to the pandemic, the official COP26 has been postponed until November 2021, and much attention has been diverted from climate action to COVID–19. But the climate crisis is still gaining speed, and the window for preserving a stable climate is closing. What can be done to lay the groundwork for a successful COP26 next year?

Massey is Missing COP26 so we want to do something about it. As part of the College mandate to contribute wisely to the public good, we put on a free five-part virtual climate conference from November 9-19, 2020 to build strategic momentum towards a powerful Canadian role at COP26 in 2021. The conference had five elements, all of which would have been present at the official COP26. Scroll below to view.

November 2020
January 2021
February 2021
March 2021
April 2021
May 2021
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Missing COP26
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