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“Feels Like Summer”: Four Years Later

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GSU chapter.

Climate change is real. Habitats are dying. People are dying. Childish Gambino could have started his 2018 hit song “Feels Like Summer” like that, but he didn’t. His criticism of the current climate crisis began by him crooning soft summer melodies on a beat. Gambino doesn’t mention companies exploiting the Earth by name, but his lyrics allude to corporations pumping greenhouse gases into the air. It’s clear this song isn’t just another summer jam. 

What isn’t clear is what’s changed in the four years after his song. Is the planet going to go up in flames? Do people in power even care? 

First off, climate change and global warming aren’t the same. NASA states that global warming only focuses on the planet’s temperature. It’s only a piece of the climate change puzzle. 

“You can feel it in the streets…”

Climate change speaks to something bigger. It encompasses global warming, more extreme weather and ecosystem imbalance. Climate scientists also discovered that the effects of climate change on the Southeast could lead to rising sea levels and “decreased water availability.” 

“On a day like this, the heat…” 

On average, the high temperatures for late September in Atlanta last year hovered around the 80s. In 2016, the highs plummeted from 88 to 75 in the same week. Fall ushered itself promptly in 2016. That wasn’t seen in 2021. 

People around the Southeast have noticed. Or, at least students at Georgia State University have. Shay Morgan said that Georgia’s weather went from weird to unpredictable. What she wears has changed, and she even carries herself differently. It’s already affected people’s daily lives in places where it hasn’t fully reared its ugly head. 

“It feels like summer…”

Where it has reared its ugly head is abroad. Australia was not only slammed by the 2020 bushfires but also hit with a record-breaking heatwave. Other temperature records are being broken this year with the heatwave that ravished Europe. 

Politico reported the United Kingdom had temperatures reached 104 F and excess deaths in the thousands during the summer. France, Spain and Portugal were facing similar death tolls. And while excess deaths aren’t exact numbers to some, climate scientists found that scorching summers were becoming more frequent in Europe. 

And the ones suffering the most from these fiery heat waves? People 65 and older.

“I feel like summer…” 

This isn’t a new discovery. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s data showed people 65+ are more likely to die in the heat. Cardiovascular disease is the underlying cause in mostly. Like other medical trends, Black people have a higher risk of dying in the heat in comparison to the population. This could be due to medical inequalities like poor access to healthcare or low-quality medical attention. 

“Oh, I hope you know the pain…”

The Biden administration is trying to change some of that.

A climate act was passed into legislation in August. If fully integrated, emissions from the United States would be cut by 40% in 2030. While the administration promised to reduce emissions in half, this is still the biggest step towards a cleaner future in American history. 

It’s called the Inflation Reduction Act, which will focus on the reallocation of money to help support cleaner forms of energy, and cut back on fossil fuel usage. In theory, this would lower energy costs for Americans and reinvest money into disenfranchised and rural communities. 

“I’m hopin’ that this world will change…”

Finally, it seems like the global polluter has crawled out of the clutches of big oil companies to turn down the temperature dial. But on the other front, not many celebrities have consistently used their platforms to advocate for climate change, including Gambino. Ever since “Feels Like Summer” soared to chart-topping heights, he’s stayed quiet. 

In fairness, Gambino could be doing unpublicized climate advocacy. But this trend of stars advocating for political issues and then going ghost the second it loses public attention isn’t new. Think back to every celebrity who put up on a black square to protest the slaughter of George Floyd and then said nothing more about police brutality. 

“But it just feels the same…”

Some celebrities are doing the groundwork. Greta Thunberg toured the world, spending her teenage years advocating for anyone to notice the world on fire. Angelina Jolie does animal conservation work, making sure that habitats don’t get destroyed. But, there are the ones who take 17-minute flights. The ones who have piles of Shein clothes despite them being able to afford sustainable designers. The celebrities who have the ear of millions, who do nothing political with it. 

They have that responsibility, or at least that’s what GSU student Noah Milton thinks.

“A lot of the problems that are anti-climate change are from celebrities,” said Milton.

To him, it’s not that most celebrities are holding up protest signs on Instagram with “#ClimateChangeIsFake” under their caption. It’s the fact a lot of them haven’t been consistently putting in the work. Their silence on the world being engulfed in flames is deafening. 

The only thing cutting through that silence is the crackle of burning trees and the screams of dying animals.

Toni Odejimi is a journalism major with a concentration in multimedia reporting. She analyzes pop culture and fandom culture with a sociopolitical edge. Also a fan of rap, she occasionally writes about the issues within the rap community. You can catch her either nose deep in a book, scribbling down an article, or lifting weights at the gym.