Climate Change & EDM: Til Death Do We Part [Editorial]

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“If it’s going to be this warm into December every year, we should start throwing festivals earlier & later in the year.”

While this may seem like a glib statement, the guy who said that at the Blkmarket Membership party bar this weekend had a point. The unseasonably warm weather on the East Coast this December started earlier and ended later than usual this year, just like last year. The peak weekends were rainy and gross. This led to a significant number of problems over the season, with festival after festival being forced to yield to the might of a weird summer season. EDMTunes exhaustively documented the environmental shitshow that occurred as storms ravaged the biggest names in festivals. I want to make the point that this isn’t going to stop. This wasn’t a one-off year, as climate change gets worse, this is going to become the new normal.

I think it’s important to connect festivals, rave culture & the Western “EDM Lifestyle” with the increasingly wacky weather the Northern Hemisphere is having. No, not that parties are causing the planet to warm, or that Ibiza/Burning Man isn’t carbon neutral. This is not a post that’s going to explain climate change, or attempt to convince you that it’s a real thing. If you don’t know what it is, or don’t believe it’s real, feel free to stop reading. This is about needing to recognize the weather is changing and festivals need to start planning for it. While we joked about Hudson Project being a mudslide a couple of years ago, you have to admit, they did do their homework and didn’t screw up to the level that we saw in Chattahoochee Hills. As parties get bigger, systems to respond to extreme weather events and even (as referred to by insurance policies) “Acts of God” will need to be scrutinized and revamped. This goes way farther than just only partying in places that have a roof. This is a global challenge, that gets to the heart of sustainable parties. A shift in how we throw parties will allow us not only to keep having parties, but if adopted globally, build a better world.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get Captain Planet on anyone, but there are little things we can all do to “green” the industry. The best thing you can do is to vote with you dollar. Lightning in A Bottle and Bonnaroo have taken big steps in reducing its carbon footprint and making sure the garbage generated is removed and recycled whenever possible. Burning Man is a 100% Matter Out Of Place removal event. The whole thing disappears as completely as it appears in the Black Rock Desert. If people can haul garbage 3 fucking hours to Reno, why the hell can’t people pack out their tents at Glastonbury, or not throw crap on the ground at Electric Daisy Carnival. Do I think recycling water bottles at Beyond Wonderland will prevent the ocean from rising? No, but I think if the industry stepped firmly and confidently in the direction of carbon neutral event practices and rewarded attendees for doing the same, we might start a few conversations.

The bigger questions need to be answered by the industries that come together and make these events happen. How can we make touring and trucking massive rigs globally more sustainable? How can we make parties with 100,000 people not use 6 quadrillion plastic bottles? This isn’t to say that I or EDMTunes has the answer, but the more people who think about these things and try to party in a more environmentally friendly way, the more the market will respond. I truly believe this is a place where producers, labels and the biggest names in EDM could make a stand. Morgan Page has already expressed his interest in changing the way the industry functions and it is time for others to step up. Deadmau5 and Armin have talked about how much goes into creating a full-fledged main-stage set experience, and how well they’re compensated for doing so. What if talent and attendees started demanding sustainability packages, solutions for making the event carbon neutral, and even ways to give fans the opportunity to volunteer to green the space in exchange for tickets and VIP privileges. If the Global Citizen project can sell out a party in Central Park entirely from volunteering and giving, I think we’d be able to fill a couple of clean up crews with broke superfans.

This might even work from a shareholder value perspective. Right now, profitability at both major production companies are down, in part because of high profile disasters caused by storms amplified by (you guessed it) the stuff we’re trying to stop here. A huge conference going on in Paris this week surrounding this issue just ended, but the worldwide population of party people is pretty good at ignoring this kind of stuff. We have a chance not only to create better parties, but also lead one of the biggest industries, integral to the hospitality, lifestyle and tourism spaces to better practices. Considering how excited we are when DJs yell about the most random shit, I think we’ll love it when they rail against companies that try to cut corners, botch festivals and fuck up the planet.