It’s been reported that this summer in Europe has been the hottest on record since records began. We were there at the start of it and it was stinking hot!
The Arctic and Amazon are both burning, and so is Kalimantan and Sumatra. Fires from the South East Asian region create a gargantuan cloud called the Haze, which has landed planes, closed schools, caused acute respiratory illnesses and granted several cities in the region the title of the Most Polluted on the Planet. We were there just weeks before and missed the haze, though the fires had probably been burning at that time.
We travelled towards Beijing by Bullet train and saw evidence of the massive replanting programme, where countless trees over hundreds of kilometers were feet first in the earth. China is one of two major global landmasses that is becoming more visibly green from space. We walked in streets silent of combustion engines, electric vehicles are everywhere and ordinary. We saw blue skies above Beijing.
We calculated our many journeys, the greatest distances often by plane, and felt accountable for our personally insignificant addition to the global carbon calamity. Its a conversation with many opinions. Many say its pointless, many say it’s the apocalypse. Heres how we decide what to do.
Hyperobjects is a phrase coined by Timothy Morton. Its a concept that helps to consider the role of these world-affecting phenomena “…that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity, such as global warming, styrofoam, and radioactive plutonium”. We’d would suggest that Humans-Traveling-In-Planes-All-At-Once-And-Over-All-Time is a Hyperobject. Small Me is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but add small me to the entity Humans-Moving-in-Planes monster and the contribution of ‘I’ becomes part of a greater force that then becomes significant to the grand scheme of all things.
Recognizing the negative impacts of flight its confounding that we still can’t deny to wanting a future where humanity remains able to travel widely. Travel as a human endeavor has ultimately enriched and benefited the human condition. Travel and exposure to the ‘other’ is mentally nutritious, a great teacher of tolerance, the recognition of shared-similarity such as the universal love of food, music, touch, color, art, adventure, access to things Wild, and the deep sensory satisfaction of being an active participant IN & OF the world. Travel helps to dismantle that toxic notion of ‘other’.
This argument in NO way attempts at all to negate the massive negatives that have unfolded as global travel expanded – the white supremacist advance of colonization, the massacre of countless human and non-human lives, the decimation of Primary Rain Forests, water ways and other diverse habitats for the exploitation, avarice or greed.
As we have done before [and here], we documented and discussed these plans with an organization called Ekos. “Ekos is a non-profit enterprise that develops carbon projects to grow and protect indigenous forests in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. ekos connects carbon offset buyers with these projects by measuring business and individual carbon footprints, supplying certified indigenous forest carbon offsets, and providing zero carbon certification. ekos carbon projects deliver climate resilience, waterways protection, erosion control, biodiversity protection and community economic development.”
We are pleased that our Orange Time tour has been certified as Carbon Friendly with ekos. We compiled the info about our flights (including radiative forcing) and we estimated the emissions relating to taxi and train travel. In total we offset 20.66 tCO2e with certified carbon credits. These ekos offsets grow and protect indigenous forests in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and help to deliver climate resilience, waterways protection, erosion control, biodiversity conservation and community economic development.
This seems like a positive contribution, despite the personally tiny scale.
In no way are we suggesting that planting trees is enough. But equally, its not going to harm anything, and if done in significant number will make some impact to the overall carbon budget. It is but one strategy in the tactics of mitigation. The questions remains for now though on that hot topic of the continuity of contemporary civilizations and life – human AND non-human.
People who make stuff, sing, write or have access to any other platforms available have an ability to step into the flood of conversations that aim to inspire inertia. The recent deluge of abuse and digital shouting at Greta Thunburg is a perfect example. To use honed skill-sets and creativity to distract, redirect, refocus and reorientate conversations and narratives is a particular opportunity worth exploring. And if you have any sort of platform, perhaps an imperative. Say nothing and the right-wing, or left-wing, wackjob rhetoric thrives.
Some say Carbon offsetting is a scam. Maybe some aspects of it are, when its managed from a corporate agenda. But a bigger scam is the promoting the belief that doing nothing counts as something, often suggested from some lofty cynical pseudo-authority. Someone much smarter than us once said “By any means necessary”. A creative platform is simply one aspect in the Any Means available to us in the differing tool kit we have to use.
Our recent tour was called Orange Time. It’s also the name of one of our newer songs. The words riff on the idea that there is wisdom in paying attention to the obvious warning sign that surround us, in many different forms. And also the inherent foolishness of the act of avoidance of attentiveness. We are already practiced at observing a multitude of Orange signs, from road cones, traffic lights to the stop/go signs of construction workers. We just have to continue to keep an eye on that Orange ball.
All inside in the orange bright, can you feel the pressure.
Fair enough to feel the fear, we can call this air depression.
It’s a measure of your trust, present with this strangeness.
Struggle strange in troubled times and live with pending danger.
It’s all around and everywhere, a warning writ in orange light.
On all fronts and on all borders, burning into sight.
Hit the road and here we go, one way into orange time.
High-viz bright in white hi-beam, shine on warning signs.
That nearby near here danger looms. Or somewhere near here just from sight.
You think we should race the red? We gonna jump the line?
Uncertain is the only way. Certain has been compromised.
Somethings breathing on our neck, it’s the future of our lives.
Have you got the post-truth blues. Try post-natural selection.
Everything has signs of use, thanks uneven big H human.
Observe, record those bigger views, beauty scored for Mr Darwin.
Now digging wells, exhaustive fumes next to a rising plastic mountain.
Clingfilm wrapped the Holocene in carbon, and forever isotope.
The past has passed us like a dream. It seems the futures been rewrote.
Once green for go, was safe in green, now Orange warns of on the ropes.
Orange as Anthropocene, beyond the noisy Hollywood tropes.
Orange cones on slips and cliffs, there’s danger waiting if you stray.
Orange with a stop/go stick, the folk who stand and show the way.
Orange vests to float and drift, to ride upon a deepest wave.
Orange lines on bugs to make you sick, a lick of poison you might taste.
Orange hands wrapped round the helm with a captain’s worse than rabid drunk.
Orange flush but hint of flame, an orange sky has panics hush.
Orange rain to strip the skin. Orange ropes control the rush.
Orange lights on running red but we don’t seem to worry much
Have you got the post-truth Blues.
Under clouds that spell ‘Confused’.
Everything has signs of use.
Use-by-dates in question to.
Worldly-hurts a bitter prove.
Hold on tight though getting bruised.
In borrowed light of Orange Time
Hi-vis shines to guide you through.
When working without a promoter, who might handle all details relating to a show like accommodation, equipment, money or any other detail, we are required to have these conversations each time with individuals directly involved in the organizing. This is a constant shifting navigation, an act of negotiating similar but differing terrains.
This act of renavigating plans has been something of a significant consideration during this trip. The navigation of personal expectations of tour planning are confronted by the reality of the personal lives we interact with in this project. If this was simply a promoted tour it’s highly possible would would miss many of these meaningful, learning and sometimes humbling moments.
Tragedy and challenge are part of the human experience. On this trip illness and loss of life have been regular companions. Two good people that we have worked with previously, have both died this year. These are saddening losses for their individual communities. For us this has created planning challenges but our needs are not paramount at these times.
Hopes and expectations also have their own terrain. Not all negotiation delivers on desires. We spend our last days in the UK quietly as all the hunting for shows for the final weekend came to nought. But often a door closed opens another and we managed to see the most brilliant Bob Drake perform in Brighton. And as written in the previous entry the experience of the random networking of unknown people pitching in to help out was worth the experience.
We leave the ‘western’ world and head east to Thailand to reconnect with an old friend from Tenzenmen records who now lives in Chiang Rei. We explored the option of a show here in the far north but a lack of established venues or cohesive community of oddball music makers was not available. There are rumblings of ideas and plans which sound potentially exciting, so we wish them well for these future projects. During days off we learn about local superstitions, are informed to be wary of biting ants and snakes in the grass, and acclimatise ourselves to moving around in the local heat.
Traveling south to Chiang Mai we take part in a show with two local acts. We find out about the challenges of navigating the running of shows in this area, compounded by a lack of venues, frequent sound problems in gentrifying areas, and police raids. Our night though is without any of these dramas and it seems a good time is had all round. Next to Bangkok. We play in a small venue called Jam, a space that seems receptive to noisy shows and stylings in addition to hosting the more experimental of events. The show we play has been curated for diversity with performances from free improvised harsh noise, the psychedelic solo guitar of Mitsuru Tabata (of Acid Mother’s Temple and Zeni Geva), the loose, sludgy and raucous sounds of Yoga from Hell, us and then the local punk legends Lowfat. A sonically fantastic night.
We move south again to Kuala Lumpur. Again the importance of everyday realities influences and supersedes the priorities of touring and plans adjust and evolve.
The show we do play is cracking! It is held in a studio space on the KL/Selangor boundary. The lineup is ourselves with four grindcore bands, two of them coming from Semarang, Indonesia. Especially wonderful to reconnect with so many people who had seen us play before on previous tours. It was a bit of a first to have so much recollection of memories and brilliant to still see so many ordinarily continuing to be musically active in their own way across the years.
Another navigation of consideration while we travel is the climate. Everywhere we go there are frequent conversations about the changing weather patterns. Central Europe is in the grip of a massive heatwave with the hottest temperatures ever recorded. Chiang Rei should be in its rainy season but it is dry with only one day’s rain in months. Flying to Chiang Rei the dry brown of the rice paddies blanket the ground. The irony of our participation in these events with all these flights is not lost. We hear an interesting fact (unable to verify) that at any given moment 1,000,000 people are in the air moving around the globe. Each time we travel we offset the carbon with Ekos but that doesn’t negate the placing of carbon in the atomosphere in the first place. There are new gargantuan airports being built in China, as well as Chiang Mai, extension’s in Bangkok and elsewhere. The industry doesn’t seem to be slowing. Conversely travel is good for humans, it’s an opportunity to learn, expand understanding, learn tolerance and solidarity for other human behaviors, activities and practices.
We are all navigating this mine field together, but not equally. Many will feel the sharp end of this crisis before others. The urgency is here.
We depart KL with our dear friend Joe Kidd heading to the Malaysian country of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, for a few days planned rest and exploring before playing again.
It’s immensely exciting to announce the Orange Time Tour for 2019:
1. Balance like an Octopus
2a. Chrissie meets George Lund
2b. Concerts of Connections
3. Navigating Drakes, Snakes, Breaks and Heartaches
4. Where the Wild Things are!
5. Coffee grinds, grindcore, tempeh time, scooter tour
6. Cranes make Nests
7. Towards the Last Stop in the Line
8. Thanks, thanks, thanks!!
9. Orange ain’t the new Green
- 11 Tue London, Dalston : Venue : The Rocksteady
- 12 Wed Ceske Budejovice : Venue – Velbloud Music Bar
- 13 Thurs Prague: Venue – Cafe V Lese w/Zuby Nehty
- 15 Sat Brno: Venue – Stará pekárna
- 16 Sun Prague : Venue – Meetfactory :Romek’s Not Dead
- 20 Fri London : Venue – The Underdog London w/Black Helium
- 25 Tue Liverpool : Venue – Kazimer Stockroom w/Unstoppable Sweeties Show
- 27 Thurs Nottingham : Venue The Golden Fleece – w/Unstoppable Sweeties Show
- 28 Fri Manchester : Venue – Old Abbey w/Unstoppable Sweeties Show
- 29 Sat Leeds : Venue – Wharf Chambers w/Unstoppable Sweeties Show
- 6 Sat Boskovice Festival Czech
- 18 Thurs Chiang Mai : Venue – Thapae East Gate w/ Swan Bay Band and Breadth
- 19 Fri Bangkok : Venue – Jam, w/LowFat , TABATA MITSURU and Yoga From Hell
- 21 Selangor, Yaman Melawati w/AK47,
- 26 Fri Keningau : Venue – Nosebleed Garage
- 27 Sat Kota Kinabalu : Venue – MarsKK w/Hurricane Honey, Punkhouse and Wrecktail
- 30 Tue Yogyakarta : Artists talk by Chrissie Butler at KUNCI Study Forum & Collective
- 31 Wed Yogyakarta, Java : Venue – DC Coffee and Bar : w/Gas, Redam, MarsMolys, Kursus Fisika, Good Gestalt and Wynona Dryver
- August: 1 Thurs Klatan, Java : Venue – University Building : w/Redam, Sound of Glory and Pappiest
- 3 Sat Guangzhou: Venue – Brasston w/People’s Square
- 4 Sun Shenzhen : Venue – Brown Sugar Jar w/HELP
- 8 Thurs Wuhan : Venue – Wuhan Prison w/PLC
- 10 Sat Beijing: Venue – DDC w/MFMachine plus two other acts
- 11 Sun Beijing : Venue – Temple Bar w/4 Channel Club and Showhand
- 13 Tue Beijing: Venue – School Bar w/Car Drop and Boss Cuts
- 14 Thurs Seoul : Venue – Mudaeruk Bulgasari Special
- 16 Fri Seoul : Venue – Strange Fruit w/GoryMurgy, Maluihan and Wifi Cellphone Kidz
- 17 Sat Seoul : Venue – Remember Love Camp Festival
- 20 Tue Tokyo : Venue – Ogikubo club Doctor w/Height, Channeling!!! and NA/DA
- 21 Wed Tokyo : Venue – Aja-Bar w/Punk Zoo and 5W1H
- 22 Thur Tokyo : Venue – Nishi-Eifuku JAM w/HAIGAN, Goofy18, Electric Mongoose UFO Factory, The Devil and Libido
Othering Heights Video:
In an age of growing awareness of being part of a responsible global citizenry, we will offset our transport/Carbon Footprint using the local service Ekos. We encourage all traveling creative people, and all others, to do the same.
a drive around the block is statistically insignificant in terms of the overall impact on the climate. That said, when a million turn an ignition key, it moves into the collective realm of statistical, and planetary, significancy. The heat is on.
Interpretation of Timothy Morton
So we just bought carbon credits to offset our trip to Tokyo and Seoul. And it’s an easy thing to do.
From memory, Naomi Klein said in her book This Changes Everything, that a transition away from high-carbon to low-carbon activities is essential for ongoing viability of life on earth. She cites creative endeavours, such as the arts, as being a low-carbon activity to encourage. That’s a nice thing to hear if you make things such as music, it has a feel-good buzz to it, a pat-on-the-back for not launching tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere willy-nilly by being a ‘dirty polluter’.
But then we hop on a plane to go and play random weird tunes elsewhere because we can. Carbon, say hello to the atmosphere. And though it’s highly likely the plane will still have dumped that much carbon without us on board, the fact remains that we are on board, we have added encouragement to the intercontinental flight network [it is an amazing thing!], and we know that the impact of such events collectively cumulate into an unfolding hyperobject called Climate Change. [Again, read or watch Morton’s ideas on Hyperobjects].
How to mitigate such impacts? What’s a personal responsibility in this regard? How to offset the negative impacts of a positive endeavour? Talk to EKOS.
Ekos makes carbon footprint measurement and offsetting accessible for businesses and individuals. Our carbon credits come from our own carbon projects that grow and protect indigenous forest. These projects do more than capture carbon: they reduce erosion, help to clean waterways, improve biodiversity and provide sustainable income for local communities in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. [from website]
Carbon offsetting is easy. This is the second time we’ve used EKOS to help carbon offset our tours and they are super helpful. You can read about the first time in the post, Out of step to not offset. They assist to calculate the impact of flights, trains, taxis and other transportation required. To offset our trip to Tokyo and Seoul we paid approximately NZ$240, that covered all transport as well as any other calculation we were unable to supply.
Carbon offsetting means planting trees. Planting one tree sequesters about one ton once fully grown. One ton is statistically insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However after planting one million trees, and then multiply that further, then it does start to have some statistical, and actual, significance. Let’s plant some shade.
We would encourage all touring act, big and small, to investigate offsetting your projects where possible. There may be local equivalents in the areas where you live. Check it out.
We wrote this last time, seems worth saying again: “We hope other creative practitioners and festival organisers can hook up with a services like Ekos and make reducing their carbon footprint a regular and expected part of creative responsibility and activity. “