Music Festivals and Pollution

By Audio Pervert - 7/22/2019

And now, time for some inconvenient truth. Off late (at the onset of the global climate-crisis) various cultural practices are being re-examined in terms of awareness, contribution, commitment and possible change.  Staggering amounts of evidence shows that burning fossil fuels and a heat-based civilisation is the single biggest contributor to environmental destruction and consequently the climate crisis. The 6th mass extinction is on. We can practically do little without the heat-engine, which is clearly killing the planet. Is music a part of this heat-engine? Yes. The music and entertainment industry and the thousands of festivals and events within are also a part of the killing process. As we enjoy live music, revelling in dozens or thousands or millions, high on cheap drugs, the 'global bonhomie' based on consumption is a problem and of a preposterous size. Almost every music festival is full of toxic plastic, industrial food, consuming endless kilowatts of non-renewable energy and an epic waste of water and heat ... In case we forget, the chem-trails in the sky created by the audience and artists flying on jet-planes to be "there" - consequently adding upto the social media mud - #iwasthere on instagram and twitter. Yes! we the people, are contributing to a continuum of destruction, in the name of global modern culture. Lets take a brief look at the shocking environmental impact that big, medium and small music festivals cause across the world. Roughly measure the mountains of trash and carbon-di-oxide we leave behind, as we've gone home (with lovely memories). The average carbon foot-print of the globe trotting artist. Lets understand how capitalist ethics, the culture-industry and institutional hoodwink is putting up the GreenWash...

Resident Green-Wash!
Given rising public pressure and global climate breakdown, mainstream media is consequently forced to investigate and even speak of responsibility of the on-going catastrophe. As school children go on strike demanding climate justice, elite institutions are waking up-to new paradigms. The privileged class is greenwashing the issue and presenting a false picture, a dodgy narrative, far from the reality or even real concerns of climate-crisis and environmental destruction. An article recently published on Resident Advisor, UK's leading dance-music journal, is an example of the greenwashing norm. The opening salvo of the article itself contains evidence of feel-good hoodwink -"We can only hope that such adaptation will happen fast enough to be effective" After all "hope" is just not enough in the face of eminent extinction, nor is "hope" of any value without resistance. The article is also hiding the numbers (responsibility) as it claims "A round-trip from London to Sydney, for example, creates 5.5 tonnes of CO2—about as much as an average UK citizen will create in an entire year..." However Data from a recent article by The Guardian shows that an average UK Citizen emits well over 10.2 tons of CO2 per year. An american emits over 19.5 tons, an Indian and Chinese hovering around 3.1 tons per year, albeit the combined populous of India and China is almost 5 times more in numbers. Given that local voices within affluent circles are raising the alarm, it mostly remains rooted inside a consumer based industry lead by brand sponsored ambassadors and 'public profiles'.  The article keeps stressing about the "12 years to prevent" however totally ignoring the emerging scientific evidence - which clearly shows there is actually no time left. Leading scientists / experts of climate-change (Guy Mcpherson, Dahr Jamail, Jem Bendell, Bill Mckibben and James Hansen etc) have pointed out (with mountains of evidence) that 'Near Term Extinction' is not just a future possibility, but a present day occurrence as we speak. The change (for worse) is inevitable. The article in question, 'greenwashed' with drab vectors, now a recurring style seen across all big and small environmental websites and their propaganda. However, one cannot criticise Resident Advisor alone for being rooted inside the the Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse. There are thousands of such examples, however mostly mired in a 'feel-good, business as usual' mindset. A UN verified carbon calculator, plastic-wrapped vegan-food, diet coke, toxic battery-pack, one-click donation to some NGO, Uber to the airport and we are off to the next festival... They call it 'circular economy'.

Pay your way out of Guilt? The Scam of Vogue Climate Activism.
Recently, Berlin based Booking agency POLY claims to have implemented a scheme to address the climate-crisis for it's own roster of artists. DJ Darwin, curates the club-night 'Reef' which is raising money for coral reef preservation, has launched the Clean Scene, an environmental project which includes a carbon calculator for DJs and related agencies. However, the website contains hardly anything practical or planned, in terms of action, instead calling for membership to gain access to exclusive content. Alliance to Save Energy, recently published an article which claims that many outdoor american music festivals have reduced carbon emissions. How? Lucrative ferry-deals with Uber, organic food stalls and bicycle companies stepping into the business of cleaning up. Given that Uber cabs are running on petrol + Organic food mostly depends on fossil fuel based transport and eventually no one knows (nor cares) where a given bicycle is made, who made it and what materials are used. However, corporate style membership and donation based discourse will continue to fool the public. Hope laced with moral dross and technology. Calculate, Pay and Move unto the next party! Current studies show a big majority of DJs (Male and Female) have no understanding nor concern about climate-crisis or the on-going global suffering. The jocks and divas taking ever more flights, guzzling and embracing poison like Coca Cola and Pepsi and perpetuating a life of consumer trash. Even more artists taking even more international flights every year. The Stars Are A Killing Joke? Just like consumers, these high-profile individuals are in essence, cogs of a system which is gutted in consumption and pollution. Ben UFO recently claimed with pride that "I work out my emissions with an online carbon calculator and donate money to waste handling and forest conservation schemes" How the typical consumer-class would address charity, third-world poverty, refugees, war and all such problems. After all, business must go on, the narcissistic celebrity must earn more and more. Yet, every now and then allocating the 'left-over crumbs fallen off the table' for the unfortunate citizens and 'sorry' state of the earth.

Some More Ugly Facts? in terms of Carbon Emissions (CE)
★ Average CE of High-Profile DJs = 53.5 tons per year (@25 return flights every year)
★ Average CE per audience (in EU / North America) = 20.3 tons per year
★ Average CE of Music Festival running +10000 watt sound system = 220 tons per day
★ Average CE of Music Festival running +20,000 watts sound system = 450 tons per day.
★ Average Waste Generation of medium capacity festival = 2300 kgs per day
★ Average Waste Generation of large capacity festival = 5100 kgs per day
★ Average CE of a four member band taking 20 flights a year = 208 tons per year.
★ Average water consumption at 5000+ capacity festival = 2200 litres per day.
★ Average water consumption at 20,000+ capacity festival = 8550 litres per day.

We very well know that energy and power has significant implications for the practical and economic  success of any festival, however big or small, new or old, niche or hamburger! Yet very few festivals and their curators care about environmental impact, when looking at all their propaganda, hype and given rush to sell tickets. With rising fuel costs and a devastated environment, the entertainment industry is now forced to pay attention, to answer and seek for more knowledge, understanding and expertise about possible alternatives. About sustainable power. A period of exploration and consultation by the Green Festival Alliance (GFA) has created The Power Behind Festivals Guide. A practical, first-time guide to understanding and reducing carbon emissions and emerging methods to conserve energy and up efficiency. Will the music festival industry actually move towards a progressive direction? Remains to be seen and heard...

→Next Month, we look at the environmental impact of the industry which manufactures synthesizers, electronic instruments and studio equipment.

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