There is nothing more amusing than incongruous people rapping (Andy Samberg has built a career on this notion), and there is perhaps no more incongruous rappers than Australian academics. That's why this video of Australian climate scientists rapping about climate change has been such a hit.
But where does it come from? Why do these climate scientists feel such a strong need to assert their academic credentials? They're sick of politicians and news personalities prefacing their climate denying remarks with "I'm not a climate scientist." These people are climate scientists, and they're here to tell you that climate change is happening. But no one was asking them.
The video is the brainchild of Australian comedian Dan Ilic. "In the Australian media as well as the global media, the climate change debate is often dominated by people who may have significant authority on the subject yet do not directly work directly in the field," he says.
Jason Evans, one of the featured rhyming professors, concurs: "Most of the people talking about climate change in the media actually know little about it (often happily admitting they are not climate scientists). Yet their opinions are given at least as much, if not more, weight than that of actual climate scientists. I can't think of another branch of science where this is true." After one particularly atrocious radio debate show about climate change for which no climate scientists were present, Ilic decided the best solution was to introduce the real climate scientists and let them have their say. And then he asked them to rap.
"I felt like I need to make a point in the media discourse that would stand out, get noticed," Ilic says. "I believe advertising wankers call it “cut through” the track had to be loud and funny. Talking heads [as in a documentary, not the band] weren’t going to cut it." And that's how we get the epic wordplay of the Lonely Island-inspired work you see above, which aired on Australia's ABC1 show Hungry Beast. The original is quite raunchy (we've embedded the clean version).
Is a joke hip-hop song the best way to address this issue? Probably not, but if reason isn't working, the next step is rhyming. "The best way to confront the issue would be governments and businesses showing leadership making brave choices," says Ilic. "And without hip-hop they may not do that." Plus, says Evans: "I heard that 83% of the Wu Tang Clan supported the consensus on anthropogenic warming."