Over the past decade, it’s been difficult to separate science from politics when it comes to climate change. Somewhere along the line, evidence for anthropogenic climate change became a “left” issue and the denial of that evidence became a “right” issue for many. And instead of focusing on the testable and observable, pundits looked to make their case by focusing on manufactured controversies like “climate-gate” or by getting non-climate experts like geneticists and astrophysicists to sign a “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” letter, as if all “scientists” are equally prepared to tackle any subject.
But as evidence begins to pile up on one side, this false equivalence begins to break down. The question is no longer, “Is it happening?” but “What are we going to do about it?” (Jonathan H. Adler has an enlightening post at the Atlantic about reframing this debate through the idea of “free-market environmentalism. Worth a read.)
Right now you might be wondering, “Uhhh this is PandoDaily. Why are we talking about climate change?” Well, besides the importance of climate change awareness and legislation to the clean-tech industry, climate change is already having an impact on the global economy. A recent study commissioned by 20 countries and written by more than 50 scientists, economists, and policy experts, has cost the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping out 1.6% of global GDP annually. Another recent study found that rising temperatures may lower summer productivity to 80% of what can be done in other months by 2050. If your startup works in food production, developing nations, or even employs human beings I guess, you have a stake in battles over climate change that are taking place in Washington, in the media, and in the court of public opinion.
At Explainer Music, we say this a lot with our explainer videos, but it bears repeating: This is not meant to be “everything-you-need-to-know-about-climate-change.” Instead we hope that after watching (and playing with) this song you’ll have the background to understand the basics in order to start a rational conversation about the topic, and to know what people are really talking about when they talk about climate change.
Or for mobile users or if you’re using a browser without extended HTML5 support, watch the non-interactive version:
Video created by Explainer Music
Music by Andrew Bean and David Holmes
Research/Lyrics by David Holmes and Sharon Shattuck
Art/Animation by Sharon Shatuuck
Code by Zach Thompson
When we say climate change what do we mean?
Its more than just when the weather’s weird
It’s the change over up to a million years
Some of its natural, some of its not
Let’s start with the stuff that’s not our fault
Shifts in the earth’s tilt, orbit and rotation
Volcanoes and wildfires cause temperature changes
Putting more CO2 in the air
What’s wrong, don’t the plants need it there?
But when sunlight shines on the world
Some heat’s reflected some is absorbed
But when the heat’s on its way back to space
CO2 and Methane get in its way
Absorbing heat, send it back to the earth
Causing temperatures to surge
Fossil fuel emissions, deforestation traditions
How do we know to blame you and me?
For the past 400,000 years
CO2’s fluctuated so what’s the big deal?
But after the age of industry
CO2’s now higher than its highest peak
But how do we know that it’s the case
That CO2 correlates with more hot days?
There’s pockets of ancient air trapped in blocks of ice
We can measure ancient levels of carbon dioxide
When CO2 was up the temperature was up
When CO2 was down the temperature was down
For hundreds of millennia this lasts
Oceans and forests are natural “carbon sinks”
sucking up the carbon to decrease the risks
But we’re cutting down the forests, so there goes another sink
As the ocean eats more carbon it gets more acidic
This threatens ocean life, and hey here’s more bad news
Rising sea levels cause saltwater to intrude
Into freshwater fisheries and acres of rice
That feed millions of people hey it’s because of melting ice
What can we do to hold the fort?
Just cutting emissions may fall short
We’ll look to remediation and carbon sequestration
It depends on your location how this all plays out
If you live in the Southwest US your big problem is drought
And if you live in Lagos, Bangladesh or some Pacific isle
You might even lose your home to the rising tide
And warm air can hold more moisture, which intensifies storms
That’s why you might see more snowfall even if it’s a bit more warm
You don’t have to be an environmentalist to see we’re in duress
It will cost more money down the line if we don’t clean up this mess