Essentially a playlist : How can we sleep when are beds are burning?

With world “leaders” pouring tar all over the possibility of a climate treaty in Copenhagen, Denmark as I write this, my hopes for a real commitment to dealing with climate change are fading in diametric opposition to my fears for either melting or freezing to death in a killer-climate (my grasp of which of these is more likely is tenuous — I’d have to ask an environmental science prof whether I should be stocking up on SPF-1000 or Hot Shots).

Maybe the Mayans got it right, and we’re doomed sooner rather than later. With that in mind, here’re some songs to ponder.

Modern English — “I Melt With You” [from After the Snow]

Originally a punk group called the Lepers, they clearly had to change their name in order for “I Melt With You” to become a hit. The connotations otherwise would have been pretty icky. The band released four albums following After the Snow but they never hit the heights they did with this number in 1982.

Erasure — “Too Darn Hot” [from Red, Hot + Blue]

Cole Porter was an immensely talented songwriter who, from the 1920s through the ‘50s, wrote a string of successful shows and hit songs, including “Too Darn Hot” which came from Kiss Me Kate’s songbook. Erasure covered it in 1990 on the first AIDS benefit compilation from the Red Hot organization, an entire album devoted to Porter’s tunes.

Pink Floyd — “Obscured By Clouds” [from La Vallée OST]

It’s been a while since director Barbet Schroeder made La Vallée — but he recently came back on my radar having directed the penultimate episode of Mad Men’s latest season. La Vallée bore the alternate title Obscured By Clouds, and Pink Floyd wrote this instrumental piece for Schroeder’s soundtrack. If the sun does become too obscured by clouds, we’re all in a lot of trouble.

Metallica — “Trapped Under Ice” [from Ride the Lightning]

If the day after tomorrow brings another ice age, we’ll all be trapped under ice. And having seen Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, I do not want to be trapped under anything with Messrs. Hetfield and Ulrich.

ELO — “Melting In the Sun” [from Zoom]

You know the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Nazis open the ark and that light melts their skin off and their eyeballs fall out? Swap the ark for the sun and the Nazis for the Earth’s population and we’re getting close to what will happen if our ozone is depleted enough.

Joni Mitchell — “Big Yellow Taxi” [from Ladies of the Canyon]

On and on, it seems to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. So sayeth Joni, and those are words to take heed of when it comes to our current situation. When I’m stuck on a breakaway iceberg chunk, sharing it with a hungry polar bear like that little boy on the news, I guarantee this’ll be the tune I’m humming. Quietly, so as not to draw the bear’s attention.

Evildead — “Global Warming” [from The Underworld]

Leave it to an LA thrash-metal band to write one of the more on-point calls to arms around climate change. From the city that has daily smog indices, Evildead touch on groundwater contamination, CO2 emissions, ozone depletion and more. They paint a bleak picture and don’t see it getting better when “few care about the environment in the USA.”

Duran Duran and a clutch of pop stars — “Beds’r Burnin” [from Global Humanitarian Forum]

I recently read that Duran Duran and several other pop stars were gathering this fall to record an update of Midnight Oil’s environmental classic to raise awareness for Kofi Anan’s Global Humanitarian Forum’s climate change efforts. I have yet to find it on the Interweb, but it just begged to be included in this list.

They Might Be Giants — “Electric Car” [from Here Comes Science]

After you give a listen to this great song from quirky pop masters They Might Be Giants, go rent Who Killed the Electric Car? and get even more angry about the auto-industry bailout. Seriously, why the hell are we helping these Earth-destroyers keep on keeping on?

Miley Cyrus — “Wake Up America” [from Breakout]

Clearly climate change is a genuine problem that needs solving when even Hannah Montana is singing a call to action. “Everything you do matters in some way,” Cyrus notes, and bluntly addresses the older generation that has brought us to the brink when she sings “I know that you don’t wanna hear it/Especially coming from someone so young/But in the backseat, yeah/They wanna hear it.” Get off your phones, soccer-moms, and listen to the little eco-voice behind your head.