Environment Blog

Climate Mash 2011

Six years after Bobby Pickett wrote "Climate Mash," the world's environmental challenges are still frightening

November 1, 2011

The song that I most associate with Halloween is “Monster Mash,” the 1962, three-time Billboard hit by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. Pickett sings in his deep voice as his backup girls do the werewolf, “wa-ooh, wa-ooh.” In 2005, two years before his own death, Pickett rewrote the song to ridicule the “zombies and vampires of global climate change.” “Climate Mash” is clever both in lyrics, by Pickett, and animation, by HorseBack Salad Animation.

The Halloween theme provides apt metaphors, but they are general, extreme, and should not be taken entirely at face value (Vampires are not real, for example). Still, the message of the song rings true. Not just oil companies, but humans in the industrialized world are like vampires addicted to fossil fuels. But unlike vampires, who prey on the living, we mortals are living off ancient remains. In the video, the zombies are “oil company disciples” and politicians. For example, the oil company Exxon Mobil, portrayed as a monster in the video, funded groups and research skeptical of global-warming.

The video touches on many topics, and to gloss over them again, here, would be glib.

But how would one change the video for Halloween 2011? Obama’s in office, and we’ve had the BP oil spill, Hurricane Irene, and record hot summer days. I’m sure that drilling for natural gas—fracking—would be mentioned along with drilling for oil. The scene in the video where Bush floats by on an oil slick could be set in the Gulf after the oil spill. This year’s video, could very well show polar bears walking by the White House in this weekend’s storm; they would be right at home with the Halloween Blizzard of 2011, but such a statement would be for effect, not to prove a scientific point. Attributing any single storm to climate change is impossible.

American vampires have actually curbed their appetites since 2005. The recession of 2008-2009 correlated with a huge drop in energy consumption. From 2008-2009, U.S. energy consumption dropped nearly 5 quadrillion British thermal units, roughly equivalent to the 2008 energy consumption of Taiwan, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The U.S. consumed 100 quadrillion BTU in 2005, while in 2010, we consumed 98 quadrillion BTU. Those numbers may not make an impression, but this one should: in 1962, the year of Pickett’s original song, the U.S. consumed less than half that–48 quadrillion BTU.

About the Author

Ashley Taylor

Ashley Taylor holds a B.A. in biology from Oberlin College. Her first real lab job taught her that what she had liked about science all along was not working in a lab but thinking, asking questions, and writing. Since 2009, she has written for the Somerville News, a weekly newspaper in Somerville, Massachusetts. She looks forward to returning to science as a journalist. When not writing, she loves to take ballet classes.


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