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Weekend Playlist: Songs About Climate Change

Right now, I’m reading Rob Ziegler’s recently released novel Seed. You’ll have my review in a little while here on SF Signal, but the story has gotten me thinking quite a bit lately about the implications of global climate change and how we’re likely going to respond to it. It’s certainly a hot-button issue in the United States, and while proof that global temperatures are rising, there’s still quite a bit of controversy over the source and response to it. (This isn’t to say that the controversy is warranted.)

One of the things that I’ve loved about music is it’s ability to tell stories, and for this column, I’ve been collecting songs over the years, grouped together into themes that fit together. Individually, few of these really have all that much to do with anything wholly speculative. But, together, they tell a story in and of themselves:

“Under the Warm Sun” by A Girl Called Eddy

A Girl Called Eddie is really Erin Moran, a singer/song writer who’s produced a single album that I discovered in college. She’s a fantastic singer, and this song has both a nostalgic and warm feel to it. I don’t think that it would be much of a stretch to place this one first, with our glory days of cheap energy coming to an end.

“Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone

This goes quite a bit with the first song: nostalgic, memorable, and some nice mental imagery of what life is like when it’s warm when it’s supposed to be.

“Warmer Climate” by Snow Patrol

This song has a chorus that really feels like it was inspired by someone who likes science fiction, or at least the imagery of space and the universe, and I’ve thought that this was a good inclusion for the list not only because of the title, but because of some of the lyrics, which sort of fit with this small story.

“I’m A Climate Scientist” by Hungry Beast

Rapping Climate Scientists? I love it, and this is a song that’s directly related to the idea that the planet is heating up. It’s a funny song that goes right to the point about the differences between scientists and politicians.

“Can’t Get A Gallon of Gas” by The Kinks

This is a fun song that makes a point with it’s inclusion. When it comes to the politics and reasons behind climate change, there’s a key thing in my mind: excess. All good things come to an end, and books like Seed and The Windup Girl both function in worlds that have passed peak oil and down the other slope, where energy prices cost.

“Have You Ever Seen The Train” by Credence Clearwater Revival

“Someone told me long ago, there’s a calm before the storm.” I don’t think I can say it better than that. Going by the climate change stories that we’re familiar with, it’s clear that we’ll have hard times ahead. Plus, the actions associated with climate change, such as driving and industrial sources, cause problems locally. Here in Vermont, numerous marble gravestones are unreadable due to acidity in the rainwater here, pushed east by the wind.

“Never Seems to Rain” by We’ll Write

It Never Seems To Rain by We'll Write

We’ll Write isn’t really around any more, but the guys are still playing geeky music: Tom Slatter is particularly involved with steampunk. This song is a fun one that follows along nicely from Creedence’s song, themewise.

“Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthew’s Band

This song continually ran through my mind when I worked for an environmental consulting firm. We did a lot of work at gas stations that had experienced serious leaks: examining and testing the water, and the impact on those stations along made me want to make sure that the water that I drink has been cleaned: thoroughly.

“No Blue Sky” by The Thorns

With the poisoned atmosphere and rainwater, there’s been these great images of a poisoned sky from science fiction. Just look at our planetary neighbor, Venus, and ask anyone who goes there what the atmospheric conditions are like with rampant greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. One thing that I can tell you: there’s no blue skies there.

“Ammonia Avenue” by The Alan Parsons Project

This, to me, feels as though it’s probably the most speculative of the entire list of songs that we have here. The lyrics are dark, and the Alan Persons Project is no stranger to speculative fiction (a great case in point is their entire album titled I Robot). The lyrics “When you can’t hear the rhyme and you can’t see the reason” feel especially poignant today.

“World Sick” by Broken Social Scene

The final song here from the Canadian supergroup Broken Social Scene leaves no pretense as to where this story – and us – are likely headed. Global temperatures are rising, faster than we’ve ever seen in history, and the results could prove to be our downfall, or at the least, make us very miserable for a long time.

The weather certainly feels like it’s changed around quite a bit over my lifetime so far: quantifiable shifts in the climate, such as the droughts in the South West and in other places across the world, while major floods and storms have wrecked havoc across the planet and here at home. There’s quite a bit of evidence towards climate change theory, and hopefully, we can learn to adapt before it’s too late.

About Andrew Liptak (180 Articles)
Andrew Liptak is a freelance writer and historian from Vermont. He is a 2014 graduate of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and has written for such places as Armchair General, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lightspeed Magazine, and others. His first book, War Stories: New Military Science Fiction is now out from Apex Publications, and his next, The Future Machine: The Writers, Editors and Readers who Build Science Fiction is forthcoming from Jurassic London in 2015. He can be found over at and at @AndrewLiptak on Twitter.

3 Comments on Weekend Playlist: Songs About Climate Change

  1. I don’t know, I get a sense of hopefulness from the finale of Ammonia Avenue.



  2. I agree Paul.  And It’s far more about faith and religion (as many, Alan Parson Project songs are) than anything else.  After all, think about the  HN3 AVE anagram.

  3. Just discovered this (I googled on “earliest song about climate change”, and this was the top hit), and there’s an obvious omission: “Walking on the Sun” by Smashmouth is *directly* about climate change–or, more precisely, about the political indifference to it.

    And Donald Fagan’s new album, SUNKEN CONDOS, is completely about climate change. We may have reached a tipping point in the discourse.

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