December 4, 2023


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Not burning, drowning: Why outdoor festivals like Burning Man are reeling from extreme weather#burning #drowning #outdoor #festivals #Burning #Man #reeling #extreme #weather

Climate activists lined the road to this year’s Burning Man festival in Nevada to call out the “privileged mindset” of the Silicon Valley types who flock there — and the waste involved in creating a temporary city in the desert.

Only a couple of days later, disaster struck. Unprecedented rain — 20 mm in 24 hours — turned the desert into mud, trapping the 70,000 festival goers.

As you might expect, the internet went wild with schadenfreude. But there’s a deeper issue here. This is not the first — and won’t be the last — outdoor festival up-ended by unprecedented weather.

It was only a month ago that the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea was crippled by intense heat and typhoons, forcing its abandonment. Last year’s Splendour in the Grass festival in northern New South Wales turned into a mud pit after unprecedented rains.

Outdoor festivals are a summer rite of passage for many. Warm weather makes them possible. But summer’s when we often see the wildest weather, too. As climate change loads the dice, we’ll see more festival disruptions, more often.

Two people wearing colourful festival clothes walk through mud with their backs to the camera.

Burning Man turned to mud.(Reuters: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Summer may no longer be the right time for festivals

The biggest music festivals are usually held in the summer months. Glastonbury in the United Kingdom and Tomorrowland in Belgium are held in the northern hemisphere summer, in late June and late July respectively. America’s Coachella festival takes place in April, but it’s in a desert where daytime temperatures over 30C are the norm.

As the world heats up, summer may soon be too risky for festival organisers. Creating large festivals is expensive and logistically challenging. Wipeouts from extreme weather events pose major financial risks.

#burning #drowning #outdoor #festivals #Burning #Man #reeling #extreme #weather

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