Want to hear the most cogent scientific, social and political arguments about climate change? Check out Baba Brinkman’s song “Make It Hot.” Brinkman is a Canadian rapper who has garnered fame for his various collections of work, such as The Rap Guide to Religion. He’s become a bit of a phenomenon in the science and policy community, first with The Rap Guide to Evolution and his more recent collection of 24 songs called The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos. He performed what may be his biggest hit, “Make It Hot,” at the COP21 climate meeting in Paris. And I heard him perform that piece last week at the AGU Annual Meeting in New Orleans, a conference of 23,000 earth, climate and space scientists. The audience was spellbound.

The organizers invited Brinkman, who now lives in New York City, to perform the song at the beginning of a major keynote address for the week. Not knowing what to expect, the audience was a little skeptical when Brinkman appeared—a tall, clean cut, well-dressed, middle-aged man who began by talking about climate, not rapping. But the large crowd became thoroughly enthralled after he got about a minute into the song. That’s because the lyrics are smart. Really smart.

I’m not the first to write about Brinkman’s work, but this may be the first time you’ve heard about him. Rather than me say more, just read the lyrics for yourself, below. I’ve highlighted a couple lines in particular that struck me. You can also see Brinkman perform the song on YouTube, below.

Enjoy. And share; the song will make people reflect about the role they, and all of us, play in making the climate issue hot.


"Make It Hot"

Written by D. Brinkman and D. Moross

Scientists are telling us that we’re standing on a precipice
And we have to convert the global economy and make it emission-less
And those emissions are caused by every single one of our jobs
Every one of us contributing carbon emissions to the smog
For instance, if I write a rhyme tryin’ to describe climate change
And it's hot, so it catches on, someone’s gonna fly me someplace
To perform it, and the appeal of that is enormous
It’s not an option for me to turn down work for global warming

‘Cause I make it hot, people say my rhymes are dope
I twist words until they're unrecognizable
I make it hot, make it heezy fa sheezy
So hot even climate change skeptics will believe me
I make it hot, like the temperature it needs to be
Before the tea party will believe the IPCC
I make it hot, I liquefy the Greenland ice sheets
Seven meters of sea level rise, that’ll do nicely

And yeah, humans are adaptable, and we can toughen up
But that response ignores people who feel like it’s already tough enough
Make a list of countries that nobody visits as a tourist
They have low carbon emissions, the richest inflicted this on the poorest

We did it by heating our houses, and feeding our spouses
And flying and driving places and having no patience for power outages
The Pope calls it anthropocentric, he calls it obnoxious
But I got work to do, and work takes energy to accomplish

And I make it hot, I turn up the heat on the crowd
You make it hot too though, so don’t try to be weaseling out
I make it hot like the African sun
Like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum
I make it hot, feel that bass when it vibrates
Hot like the permafrost releasing methyl hydrates
I make it hot, like a planet with low albedo
Like me rockin’ a trench coat on a beach instead of a speedo

Hot with no apologies, but still I’m feelin’ a lot grief
For the impact my lifestyle has on the planet’s ecology
My carbon footprint is bigger than crypto-zoology’s
I’m talkin’ Loch Ness monstrous, so I’m not at peace
Because the aggregate effect of every decision I’m makin’ is tragic
But I can’t just quit, they say that we’re “carbon emission addicts”
But that’s just glib, you want me to live in poverty abject
And if I did, what happens to greenhouse gasses on average?
If I quit and you don’t, it’s still hell in a hand-basket

A traffic jam with no plan of action, fantastic
This is a classic arms race that we’re trapped in, it’s ominous
Self-interested parties stuck in a tragedy of the commons
The problem is caused by our collective emissions of carbon
But the person who emits is not the person emissions are harmin’
So it’s a failure of the market, everyone is incentivized
To pollute as much as they can get away with, and catch a free ride
So it’s no surprise to see emissions on the rise
When the cost of burning fossil fuel is externalized

It’s effectively subsidized, it’s paid for by the victims
Of the eventual climate impacts caused by our emissions
And Bill McKibben and the Guardian have been targeting investments
Like: Dirty energy is the new tobacco, so keep your distance
From anybody makin' a profit off of fossil fuels
Cool, I’m down with the boycott, I’m just boycotting myself too

'Cause I make it hot, I cause a heat wave
How about nine degrees hotter than the hottest ones these days?
I make it hot, like climate refugees
Picture a hot hundred million displaced Bangladeshis
I make it hot, split flames, rap metaphors
A five-alarm blaze killing the last redwood forest
I make it hot, I make it six degrees
Causing the extinction of forty percent of species

Hot! So what are we left with?
A speeding train with no brakes, some kind of a death wish?
A scientific consensus that we’re standing on a precipice
And a population with no idea of how to reduce their emissions
Some people do offset their footprint voluntarily
With the milk of human altruism, hope, faith and charity
But that’s not gonna cut it – it’s not counterproductive
But we got a global carbon budget and it’s globally busted

And there are hundreds of gigatons that you would have to offset
You might as well donate your piggy bank to the national debt
I ain’t got no spare change to donate to carbon offsetting
I don’t even want to calculate my footprint, I find it upsetting
It’s like the medieval Catholic church, back when it was indulgence-selling
If you get a big mac and a diet coke, your belly is still swelling

But here’s what I’m willing: I’m willing to pay a tax
A fee that’s calculated against my carbon impacts
And globally harmonized to switch incentives around
And make sure most of that carbon stays safely underground
But I’m not gonna pay it, not unless you all pay it too
That way I can be sure that you’ll do what you say you’ll do
How about everyone has to pay it, no free riders allowed
No international pact with the US or China left out
You can invest it in green R&D, or you can dividend it back to me
But either way I won’t be happy until the day they’re carbon taxing me

‘Cause then I can make it hot, without ever feelin’ a chill
I’m sick of the guilt trip killin’ my high when I’m feelin’ a thrill
So I make it hot, I get your emotions aroused
If we can’t make those hot, we’re not gonna keep the oceans down
So let’s make it hot, people, let’s turn up the heat
On polluters tryin’ to catch a ride on all the rest of us for free
I make it hot on the mic and in my social life
When I agitate for my friends to agitate for a carbon price

And that’s how you make it hot


From The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, released September 30, 2016

Written by D. Brinkman and D. Moross

Produced by Soulful Spider. All rights reserved.

Lyrics published with permission from Baba Brinkman.