This is what it takes to stop global warming

by Mike Gaworecki

June 10, 2008

Before embarking on their current world tour, Radiohead commissioned a study of the environmental tolls of their past two trips across the pond (the band hails from the UK). In an effort to reduce their tour’s eco-footprint, they now transport their equipment by ship rather than air-freight, use LEDs in stage lighting, and had two complete stage sets built – one for Europe and one for America – to cut down on carbon emissions from transporting gear even further. They also work with venues to make special parking available for fans who carpool to the show.

This last measure might be the most important. According to a recent Rolling Stone article, the report Radiohead commissioned found that:

97 percent of the environmental damage done by the group’s 2003 tour – nearly 10,000 tons of C02, the equivalent of 4,000 trans-Atlantic flights – was fan-related. The conclusion was so demoralizing that the group considered scrapping the tour altogether.

Thank god they didn’t cancel the tour! (I’ll be catching them when they play the Outside Lands Festival here in San Francisco!) But that doesn’t mean that they just decided it was out of their hands and to hell with the environmental cost. For instance, the carpooler parking lots they’ve negotiated can reduce the number of cars driven to shows by as much as 10%, according to the Rolling Stone article. And even cooler, Radiohead launched a whole website about the carbon footprint of their tour, where the band discusses the complexities of trying to run a green tour. There’s even a carbon calculator that fans can use to determine the most environmentally friendly means of traveling to the show they plan on attending.

The Outside Lands Festival is happening in Golden Gate Park, so I’ll be riding my bike. Which makes me not the best test case for the carbon calculator, but I thought I’d share my results with you anyway:

Radiohead tour carbon calculator

This is the kind of creativity it’s going to take to stop global warming. We need to rethink everything we do as a society. Luckily, as Radiohead has demonstrated, there is no shortage of tools that we can use.

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