Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour

Shoveling Coal on a Runaway Train


The sun is rising, hello caffeine                             E   B7
Smell the bacon, and gasoline                               C#m  Esus4/B   A  A#°
Keepin my head down, and I don’t complain    E7  G#7  A7 A#°
Just shoveling coal on a runaway train              E7   B7   E (boogie)

I work my fingers till they bleed                           E  B7
Just to buy what—   I don’t need                          C#m   F#7  B7
And all I’ve really got is a ball and chain           E  Esus4/B  A  A#°
Just shoveling coal on a runaway train

Hear the lookout calling, the time’s come and gone    E B7
Water’s rising, and the band plays on                   C#m  Esus4/B   A A#°
The rich got lifeboats, and they’re climbing in    E  G#7  A A#dim
But everybody else is trying to swim                     E  F#7  B7

The bridge to nowhere ain’t no doubt                    E   B7
People saying that the bridge is out                       C#m Esus4/B  A A#°
Better meet my neighbor,  slow things down       E  G#7 A
Or we’re gonna all be underground                        E  F#7  B7

Just one way — gonna win this game         E    Esus4/B  A A#°
Quit shoveling coal on a runaway train     E    B7   E
Quit shoveling coal on a runaway train     E    B7   A  E

                          ©Doug Hendren 2017

What’s it about? Business as usual.

With the juggernaut of climate disruption gaining speed every day, our only way out is a rapid and decisive shift away from fossil fuels in our economy. And yet the fossil industry maintains decisive control. As I write this, the COP28 meeting is being hosted in Dubai by an oil minister, and the fossil fuel industry has close to 2,500 lobbyists present, working hard to obstruct all nations from charting the path that is necessary for our survival.

The extremes of drought, heat, and low humidity in 2023 have resulted in epic fires worldwide, describe by many as “apocalyptic.” And as I have argued elswhere, “Apocalypse Isn’t so Cheap.” Our major oil companies have been fully aware of the situation for more than 45 years.

If we expect to leave a livable world to our children, we need to recognize that the bridge is indeed out. Stop this train.

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