Three Pack-a-Day Sky
Watching Canada turn to smoke , Amaj7 F#7
Sting your eyes and make you choke. Bm E7
Manhattan, you can hardly see Amajj7 F#7
The statue of liberty. Bm E7
It’s as yellow as a tiger’s eye, Em7 A A+5
All the air, for miles high. Dmaj7/6
I’ve never seen it so bone dry, B7
And it isn’t even in July. E7 E7+5
It’s a three pack-a-day sky. Amaj7 F#7
It’s a three pack-a-day sky. Bm7 E7 Amaj7
It’s all fossils, you can’t deny.
And the companies, they all lie.
It’s the dollar causing so much strife,
loving it more than life.
And you’re noticing it’s hard to breathe,
And you finally believe.
Will you forget it like yesterday’s news? B7
Or let it be a time to choose? E7 E7+
It’s a three pack-a-day sky Amaj7 F#7
It’s a three pack-a-day sky Bm7 E7 Amaj7 E7 A7
And tomorrow when the air is clear, Em9 A A+5
Just remember that you were here Dmaj7
Don’t you make the angels weep, and
Talk yourself back to sleep.
I ain’t angry, but it just seems wrong.
Flesh is weak, a dollar strong.
Get too greedy, it’s bound to crack.
Burn the forests, they burn us back.
Everybody gets to play the fool,
All choking on fossil fuel.
Everybody knows the reason why
It’s a three pack-a-day sky.
It’s a three pack-a-day sky Amaj7 F#7 Bm7 E7 Amaj7
©Doug Hendren 2023
What’s It About? In early June, 2023, more than 400 wildfires, many out of control, blazed across Canada, blanketing the northeastern United States in its worst air pollution in recent history On June 6th, the air quality in New York City was the worst of any major city in the world, with an air quality index of 247.
Extreme heat and heat waves are becoming more common due to global warming. The epic wildfires are the result of protracted hot, dry conditions in North America, evaporating moisture from soil and vegetation, drying out grasses, shrubs and trees. Increasing temperatures have also led to insect outbreaks killing drought-stressed trees, leaving them as so much kindling for forest fires. In recent years, fires have been getting bigger, and “fire season” has gotten longer all across North America.
Breathing polluted air takes a toll on human health and shortens our lives, mainly by causing or worsening cardiac and pulmonary disease. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is particularly harmful, and is responsible for an estimated 9 million deaths annually worldwide. The economic cost of air pollution is surprisingly high as well, as much as 5% of the US GDP, equal to $790 billion in 2014.
It’s all just part of the “social cost of carbon.” It turns out that burning fossil fuels to drive our world is extremely costly.
Air pollution from fossil fuels, including CO2 and methane, have altered the chemistry of earth’s atmosphere, and have decisively altered earth’s climate in recent years. While we may think the world is big, the biosphere, the part where life happens, is as thin as the skin of a peach. Numerous elements of the world around us have already changed dramatically. But people are often fooled due to the phenomenon of “shifting baselines,” adapting gradually to the “new normal,” and no longer experiencing enough alarm to motivate us to change course.
This song was inspired by an article by climate activist Margaret Klein Salamon. She writes that the 2023 Canadian wildfires, and New York City’s smoke emergency should be our “Pearl Harbor” moment, a climate wake-up moment for Americans. In Salamon’s words, “Once the truth of the climate emergency has been made conscious…we can join with climate activists to wake the public up and demand a WWII-scale mobilization to restore a safe climate. What other future is worth fighting for?”