Your crops are dying and the land so dry,
Looks like the weather has changed.
Put all that carbon in the sky,
And took away the rain.
Some people say it’s just a funny year,
Nothing to do with the atmosphere,
You can try to deny.
It’s as American as apple pie,
But your house is burning down.
You may say that we can get away
Burning fossil fuel.
But fooling all the people all of the time
Is really not so cool.
You say, drill for money, baby, drill for oil,Kill the oceans and pollute the soil,
But don’t look now, it’s your house
that’s burning down.
While those people in DC, fight about the economy
It don’t matter, when your house is burning down.
When your children look into your eyes
What do you think they see?
Never make it into Paradise on
Dollar signs and private property.
Your own babies, you betray,
The day they ask you, what will you say,
What did you do, when our house
was burning down?
Words and music ©Doug Hendren 2012
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This song is for people who either “don’t get it” yet about climate change, or who are not yet motivated to start becoming part of the solution. It was inspired by the poem “Hieroglyphic Stairway”, by Drew Dellinger, which begins:
It’s 3.23 in the morning, and I’m awake, because my great, great, grandchildren won’t let me sleep. My great, great, grandchildren ask me – in – dreams, what did you do, when the earth was unravelling?
Climate denial in the United States is an organized and well-funded industry [see “Merchants of Doubt” (Oreskes and Conway, 2010), led by the same people who obstructed the truth about cigarette smoking decades ago]. The industry poisons the public with propaganda, undermining our understanding of genuine scientific research.
Who benefits? Climate denial benefits the fossil fuel industry, and was aided greatly by a de facto “ban” on official recognition of climate change during the George W. Bush years. The tide may be turning. The major US news networks (with the exception of Fox) simultaneously acknowledged the reality of climate change on July 10th, 2012, about ten years behind the rest of the world.
What are the consequences? Due to this lost decade, we now lag far behind our peer industrial economies around the world in several respects: We have thus far failed to craft any type of coherent energy policy that will actually wean us from dependence on fossil fuels. We lag far behind our peers in investment in renewable energy sources (Germany, for example, already gets 25% of its electrical power from renewables). This lack of preparation will cost us dearly very soon, when their energy costs start going down, while ours are still climbing. This undermines our economic competitiveness. We are years behind our peer nations in establishing fuel efficiency standards for our automobile industry.
The economic costs of climate change are only just beginning to rear their ugly heads. A report from outgoing Energy Secretary Stephen Chu (Jan 2013) places the direct cost of climate change to the US economy for 2012 at $170 billion.
Can we afford a greener economy? This is a classic case of a “false choice”. To appreciate the obvious economic benefits of a greener economy, see this interview with Van Jones, author of “The Green Collar Economy”
Why bother? Isn’t it too late already? Too late to stop significant climate change, probably yes. Too late to get our act together? Of course not. Our WWII experience showed just how fast and effectively we can mobilize as a nation in response to a perceived threat. Once we get our heads out of the sand! Look at Guy Dauncey’s inspiring book: “The Climate Challenge.”
The United States has long been the world leader in climate denial. But ironically, many nations are still looking to us to get off our behinds and lead the way out. What are you waiting for?