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Environmentalist Rockers Navicula, Bali's 'Green Grunge Gentlemen'

Thankfully, Indonesian band Navicula's nickname "the green grunge gentlemen" refers only to their environmental nature and not to a type of radioactive dirt.

They are one of Indonesia's most successful rock bands, having just returned home to their island of Bali after touring the U.S. and Australia. Their name "Navicula" refers to a type of sea algae that glows in the dark and is shaped like a boat.

It's a name that seems to have been carefully chosen to illustrate the band's goal to travel around the globe raising environmental awareness through music. Speaking to PortalKBR/Asia Calling, Navicula's drummer Gembul explains the symbolism. "With this small ship, we can maybe go around the world. And its color is golden, which is valuable, so that's our philosophy."

Explaining that the band's inspiration has always been social and political issues, he adds that "everything is hectic in the world today. You don't know what's a priority anymore. We think that even if you want do a small thing honestly and passionately to make the world better, just do it. Don't waste your time being a parasite."

Navicula, who was nominated Environmental Ambassadors of Bali by the local government, act according to their own maxim. Lead singer Robi teaches organic farming in school and says he likes bringing up those issues as inspiration for the band but also to do his part in changing the world. "It's kind of like being a journalist but using music as a media," he says.

Among the band's songs is "Metropolutan," about being trapped in the polluted air of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, a city that get less than 30 days of clean air per year, Asia Calling reports.

They also sing about the last 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild in an angry "Harimau! Harimau!":

As for "Orangutan," which is available for free download, Navicula wrote the song "to encourage people to do more in orangutan conservation, to protect this endangered species," the band explains on YouTube. In English, the lyrics read, "The orangutan is crazy because man is crazy. Not at home in the city, he misses its habitat, in the jungle."

In 2012, Navicula, who also battled Indonesia's palm oil industry, successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them tour over 2,000 kilometers from Bali to Kalimantan, on the Borneo Island, to join Greenpeace activists campaigning against logging. "It's kind of sad. Rainforests are not only for Indonesia or Borneo. The whole world depends on them," the band tells Asia Calling. Deforestation "is like a worldwide suicide," they add.

The band's latest album came out in November 2012. It is called Kami No Mori, which means "The Forest of Gods," and serves as the documentary soundtrack for their Greenpeace tour.

"We're not angels. We're just trying to do something that makes people realize what needs to be done so we can still live in this world."

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Libya To Lampedusa, The Toll Of Climate Migration That Spans The Mediterranean

The death toll for Libya's catastrophic flood this week continues to rise, at the same time that the Italian island of Lampedusa raises alarms over unprecedented number of migrant arrivals. What look at first like two distinct stories are part of the same mounting crisis that the world is simply not prepared to face: climate migration.

Photograph of migrants covering themselves from the sun as they wait to be transferred away from the Lampedusa island. An officer stands above them and the ocean speeds in the background.

September 15, 2023, Lampedusa: Migrants wait in Cala Pisana to be transferred to other places from the island

Ciro Fusco/ZUMA
Valeria Berghinz


It’s a difficult number for the brain to comprehend: 20,000. That is the current estimate of how many people were killed — the majority, likely, instantly drowned and washed away — after a dam broke during a massive storm in eastern Libya on Sunday.

As the search continues for victims (the official death count currently stands at over 11,000) in and around the city of Derna, across the Mediterranean Sea, a different number tells another troubling story: in the span of just two days, 7,000 migrants have arrived on the island of Lampedusa.

Midway between Sicily and the North African coast, the tiny Italian island has long been a destination for those hailing from all points south and east to arrive on European soil. Still, the staggering number of arrivals this week of people ready to risk their lives on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean should again set off alarms that reach far beyond the island.

Yet these two numbers — one of the thousands of dead, the other of thousands of survivors — are in some way really one story.

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