Earth Day, April 22, typically coincides with the beginning of festival season. Ravers and festival goers alike are planning outfits, buying tickets, and scheduling flights to fulfill their summer festival dreams. But during the pandemic, festival organizers were unable to host events for almost two years and there was nothing ravers or organizers could do to get them back.
The fragility of the conditions surrounding large-scale festivals was in everyone’s minds. Due to climate change, we will see an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events, putting festivals and the livelihood of their organizers in jeopardy.
Even simply uncomfortable weather like storms, wind, and rain can cause delays and sometimes cancellations of festivals. As festival season 2022 begins, keep in mind the tie-in between events and sustainability with these six reasons why climate issues are festival issues.
1. Unfavorable Weather
All ravers know what it’s like to attend a super-hot, windy, or rainy festival. Not only are they uncomfortable, they can also be dangerous. Heatstroke, sunburns, and dehydration commonly send attendees to the med-tent. Slippery conditions can also cause someone to break an ankle and put a damper on their festival season.
SoCal residents remember the dusty cars at Nocturnal Wonderland; now imagine a full storm getting sand in your eyes and lungs. Drier conditions will loosen topsoil and increase the chances of dust storms. Furthermore, individual sets can be shut down, even if a full festival isn’t. At EDC in 2019, Kaskade’s set was completely shut down due to dangerous wind conditions. Climate change will make festivals more unsafe and difficult for all attendees.
2. Extreme Weather
There is nothing worse than preparing for a festival and having it canceled a few days before. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and dust storms are all uncontrollable events and will outright cancel festivals. In 2021, Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee and Imagine Music Festival in Georgia were both canceled last minute due to hurricanes.
The current hurricane season is from June through November and the increased heating of the oceans means hurricanes will be stronger during this time. Imagine a full nine months of no festivals due to dangerous weather. Climate change will make festival cancellations due to extreme weather more common.
3. Lost Money
As many ravers found out during the pandemic, a festival cancellation doesn’t always mean they get their money back. Festivals may refund festival tickets, but post-COVID, other companies have become stricter with their refund policy. Hotels, flights, and rental cars have increased the stringency of their refund policies. No matter the conditions surrounding the event cancelation, many will probably lose money in one way or another.
4. Pollution and Toxicity
Plastic waste and trash pollution are some of the main environmental issues surrounding festivals. It has been estimated that festivals ” generate…1,612 tons of solid waste annually, or about 107 tons per festival day,” according to The Washington Post.
Festival goers have experienced walking through a campground or stage covered in trash or smelly, unidentified mud. It’s gross, but festivals and campgrounds located near factories or polluted waterways also risk the health and safety of their attendees. Polluted air can make it harder to breath while dancing and polluted water can leach into groundwater and contaminate the areas around the venue.
5. Disproportionate Effect of Climate Issues on Marginalized Communities
Polluted air and water, sea level rise and food supply issues will all increase as climate change becomes more and more dire, and these problems affect marginalized communities at a greater level. Disregarded and poor communities will be more affected by these issues due to less financial and social privilege.
These communities originated the music EDM stemmed from. House, techno, disco, and electronic were all created by the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities and their desire to break free from socioeconomic oppression. But unfortunately, these communities will be the first to feel the negative effects of climate change, directly affecting the EDM community.
PLUR means peace, love, unity, and respect and is the mantra of the raver community. This mantra should be lived every day; both at festivals and raves and in daily life. Respect means caring about all types of people, but also should include the Earth and the environment. In the hippie era, peace and love were synonymous with festival and music culture. Make a pact to preach PLUR through your 2022 festival season this Earth Day.
There are stories of hope despite all the doom-and-gloom. Event companies are constantly innovating and implementing new measures to support attendees in climate-friendly actions. There are many large festival companies already taking steps towards doing their part.
Norway’s Øya Festival has implemented a “fossil-free construction site, cut out single-use plastics, encouraged the audience to arrive by walking, biking or using public transportation, mandated that food packaging be compostable, and hand-sorted waste to ensure the largest haul of recyclable materials possible.”
Over 40 U.K. festivals have pledged to form a more sustainable future by halving their emissions and obtaining 50% recycling rates by 2025. But Europe is not the only location where actions have been taken. One of the United States’ biggest festivals, Coachella, “through its Carpoolchella program, … rewards carpoolers by entering them in a giveaway to win backstage passes, merchandise, and even VIP tickets for life.”
In addition, several festivals have even increased ticket prices to cover some of the environmental and social effects of their festivals. There are many actions festivals can take to improve their environmental and social footprint on all levels of their organization, and that gives many hope.
So what can you do this Earth Day? Get involved: join a cleanup or spread awareness to your fellow ravers. Also, read up on what you can do during festival season to improve the planet here. The future of festivals is intertwined with the health of the Earth, so take care of her this Earth Day.
Featured Image provided by Electric Forest