Mar 20, 2013 · 4 minutes

Click here to remix and share your own climate change music video explainer in real-time

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.

Click here to remix and share your own climate change music video explainer in real-time

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