Sustainability & Climate Change Update: Oh Frack! A Storm of Environmental Debate

Summer has arrived and festival season is upon us! I'm now wearing another hat at HeadCount – traveling from festival to festival and running the HeadCount booth. DMB Caravan in Atlantic City was awesome (my favorites were Ray LaMontagne and Amos Lee). If you’ll be at Super BallCamp BiscoGathering of the Vibes or Newport Folk Festival, please stop by and say “Hi”! I may even hand you a $50 Patagonia gift card (read on).

  • Climate change has been a hot topic in the news and political arena recently. The rise in deadly, destructive tornadoes in the Midwest and the South, most notably in Joplin, Missouri, has gained global attention. Whether climate change is to blame for the increasing frequency of these brutal storms is an ongoing and serious debate. Some, such as activist and author Bill McKibben, argue (in a smart satirical manner) that it seems impossible for these occurrences to not relate to one another. Others say the spiking death tolls are likely due to the increase in population density. What do you think?
  • May 20, 2011 was Endangered Species Day and May 2, International Day of Biodiversity. However, Congress recently weakened the Endangered Species Act with the removal of Rocky Mountain wolves from protection, making the celebrations seem a bit like lip service. This action is the first time Congress has directly intervened in endangered species process and could signal a trend of interference. Animals aren’t the only endangered bodies that have environmentalists worried; American Rivers has released its annual list of top 10 most endangered rivers (photos). Number one on the list? The Susquehanna in PA, NY and MD. American Rivers say fracking is putting the quality of its water in danger.
  • Speaking of that darn fracking, it is becoming a hot topic these days among musicians, the media and… oil company shareholders. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial gas-drilling technique featured in the film Gasland (have you seen the clip where a guy sets the water coming from his kitchen sink on fire?) that creates liquid and solid waste. Companies employing the technique say the waste is clean and safe, even though the contents of and quantity of the waste is still unknown. Because of the Energy Policy Act in 2005, the chemicals used for fracking are not subject to government oversight. Although Exxon Mobile is among the companies claiming that the practice is not dangerous, at least a third of their shareholders are skeptical. The shareholders backed a proposal requiring increased transparency on the risks of fracking, as did 2/5 of Chevron’s shareholders earlier this year. As a result, the state of Michigan recently changed their fracking laws in the name of increased transparency. Meanwhile, Levon Helm and Arlo Guthrie performed at a special anti-fracking benefit concert in Cooperstown, NY in May.
  • Another environmental issue that’s grabbed the attention of Hollywood, musicians and activists is mountain top removal. A feature film called “The Last Mountain” is in theaters now and getting great reviews. (85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes!) Mountain Top removal was also the subject of a “Flash Mob” and march at Bonnaroo recently (which was amazing), organized by some of the environmental groups in Planet Roo. Check out the photos on HeadCount’s Facebook page.
  • In other music and environmental news, HeadCount is teaming up with Patagonia to promote the brand’s “Buy a Song, Benefit the Environment” campaign. The Patagonia Music Collective features a wide variety of music supporting a plethora of environmental groups. An exclusive song was donated for purchase on iTunes by each musician that will benefit a selected environmental group. Some of the HeadCount artists included are Jack JohnsonPearl Jammoe.Brett Dennen, Umphrey’s McGee, Galactic and more. Check out more artists and causes here or download a track or full album. What’s more, if you download an album and come by the HeadCount booth at any major festival (the ones I named above, plus Electric ForestHigh SierraAll GoodPitchfork,LollapaloozaOutside Landsmoe.down and Virgin Mobile) and show us that you’ve purchased a PMC album on your phone or iPod, you could be the lucky winner of a $50 Patagonia gift card! One per festival, so arrive early!

I hope you've enjoyed the latest in sustainability and climate change news. Any time you find some cool environmental news on the Web, please send it my way and I’ll include it in the next update (or store in the old noggin as an interesting read). Please do come say hello at the festivals this summer and I'll see you on the road!!