Festivals Fund War

Summer Festivals Fund War

As spring gives way to the warmer months of May through August the annual round of Festivals will begin. There will be all sorts of Festivals to celebrate the good things in life and to provide a change of pace outdoors. 

Thousands of small business vendors rely on these festivals and travel thousands of miles every year to attend them.  Tens of thousands, even millions, of people attend them for entertainment and to spend money, thus stimulating the economy while giving people a break from the routine. Seemingly, this is all good, right? 

Sadly, this is not all good, and here is why.  

First, transporting all these people and goods creates a spike in petroleum consumption from May through August increasing demand on refineries from the usual 90% of capacity to nearly 100%.  

It is no secret that most of the oil consumed in the US is imported, and that war rages worldwide to secure future supplies. Put simply, a portion of every dollar spent on petroleum will wind up in a petroleum warlords bank account. So all this summer festival travel increases our daily contribution to funding wars for oil.

Second, pollution increases. The warmer weather creates inversions in valleys. Coastal traffic is not as aware of the nastiness because ocean breezes push the tailpipe emissions inland, where they are trapped by the inversion layer, rendering the air unfit to breathe for millions of people. Pipelines rupture, tanks leak and spills happen allowing millions of gallons of toxic chemicals to commingle with groundwater supplies, which have been linked to a Frankenstein’s workshop of disfigurement and disease. Bottled water is no longer a luxury item.

Third, local community suffers. Though a tomato grown 300 miles away may SEEM to taste/look/smell/feel better, in fact it probably is not. Transporting a carload of kids a few hundred miles to swim or ride on carnival rides doesn’t make much sense when these very same attractions are going on nearby.  Local relationships suffer simply due to neglect. Societal disconnect from each other increases, we become ever more strangers to each other, anonymous consumers racing from one entertainment extravaganza to the next, rarely pausing long enough to develop relationships, much less community that is not dependent on a steady flow of cheap petroleum.

It is important to avoid Black and White thinking – I am advocating moderation. Trade and diversity is crucial to healthy community.  What I am suggesting is to moderate consumption of fossil fuel, to use less. It is already a consideration when making plans, how about raising the priority to not only include the immediate cost of the fuel, but also to take into consideration the true costs involved, namely taking responsibility for our individual funding of petroleum warlords and damage to the environment.  How about if each of us focused on reducing personal consumption by 50%?  We can do this by deciding to participate in half as many festivals, or to reduce our travel to half as much this summer. This will require some thought and commitment. Will you write down how many miles/festivals/gallons of petroleum you consumed in the past during these 4 summer months? Will you keep track of how much you consume this year? Are you ready to take responsibility for your support of petroleum warlords and damage to the environment?