Continuing my series of posts about making music inspired by videos/images I recorded previously based weather/climate events. This episode occurred when an unusual amount of snow felt during a short period of time this last winter. The therm unusual is used because this episode was unusual for the actual standards. The same amount of snow used to fall in the past and that was a normal event.
People often ask me how I am doing my music about climate change. What are the foundations of you work? What are exactly you talking and writing about? I will try to clarify a little today.
In my music I have to main aspects, the physical aspect and the human/social aspect. The physical aspect is what it is happening or what it will happen physically with the environment. This is what I am using to write the music. Musical notes, chords, changes, rhythmic are my artistic interpretation of the physical aspects.
The second aspect is the human/social factor, or what is happening or will happen with us, humans. How we are reacting to those changes. What it is changing now for us, what it is not changing, etc. This is what the lyrics are about. Books like Tropic of Chaos, give some insights what is happening right now with us, humans and the social aspects of climate change. This book talks about how climate change is acting on humans’ social aspects in Africa, Americas and parts of Europe and Asia. It also gives some historical background and some possible future scenarios (some of them more chaotic than others).
In general for the public, the concept of climate change is that the world is warmer than a few years ago thus winters will no longer exist and it will be summer all over the year. This is one of my biggest challengers, how to explain with my music this common misunderstanding of climate change.
First the change of seasons are a combination of different factors, but the main factor is the position of the Earth in relation to the sun. The world is getting warmer and there are different theories about who is the responsible for that (CO2, sunspots, etc.). However this does not mean that it will be only summer all over the globe all the time. Winters won’t disappear any time soon.
I’ve been reading some people comments about the misunderstanding of cold temperatures and climate change. For example when a cold temperature is recorded somewhere and someone says that climate change is not happening because of that specific low temperature. Unfortunately, things are more complicated than that. The seasons won’t easily disappear. What it is expected to occur is that in some places winters/summers for example will have more severe temperatures. Droughts and blizzards are more expected. However, in other few places it will be less severe and in others it won’t change.
Glaciers are a great example of those changes. Most of the world’s glaciers are melting and losing mass. However a few of them are gaining mass and some of them are with relatively unchanged mass. In addition snow is still falling on the places that the melting glaciers are located but the warmer temperatures are melting more quickly the snow.
Those are some examples of what I have to consider when writing my music. How I should incorporate those factors. Honestly, that is the fun part!
The theory that Earth is a globe with a finite space is not new. We are more connected with garbage than we think. We are leaving a heritage to future generations with culture, technology and also garbage. In some cases we are basically putting our garbage under the rug (landfills). If the rug is the ocean imagine how hard will be in the future when next generations will have to deal with it, cleaning our garbage.
We consider ourselves the superior animal, however in most of the cases we are incapable of take care of our own garbage. Are we pigs? No, pigs don’t dump they garbage elsewhere. They live with their own garbage. Sometimes I don’t get it. How can we consider ourselves superior if we are not able to handle our own garbage? Why people still think that garbage will disappear if left on the streets. Every product we use has to come from a place and has to go somewhere. It does not matter the size or the material. In most of the cases the products, after they are used, go to a landfill or a recycle factory. However there are cases where they are left in the streets or dumped in the wrong place. Is it really hard to put garbage in the correct place? Last year I wrote a post about a recycle day for electronics in my neighbourhood and one of my neighbours dumping his old TV in the back alley. Now, I’ve been taking some pictures to prove my theory: we are not that intelligent and we are leaving our dirty culture to future generations. Every piece (small or big) of garbage that we leave is our direct responsibility.
I am optimistic because there are a few amount of people trying to do the right thing and most important: they are teaching children how to take care of the environment. Children are learning already that what we are doing with the environment is not right.
Last year I wrote in my instagram post: “Part A,B,…J?H? 11bars? 6bars? Wait, normal songs only have A, B and maybe a C. Am I being too progressive?” The whole Alphabet ? Sometimes it is easy to imagine that the composition of the album is the hardest part. Indeed, that is probably the most important part, but reality hit me hard and doing almost everything by myself take time. In my last post I set a deadline for a possible release of the first song of my progressive rock opera. December of last year, that was my initial plan A and it was kind of reasonable. However I’ve found more difficulties than I expected. First after composing a song, and if the song is technically ready to record (technically because until the music is released it can be always improved and rearranged), it does not mean that the hard work is done. Recording is the next step. As so far I am recording all the instruments and programming the drums, it is a lot of work. Does that mean that I will give up? Of course not, but it is taking more time than I expected.
I remember when I was watching the documentary Rush: Beyond the lighted stage and they mentioned that Rush tried to record “La villa strangiato” in one take but they couldn’t. Taking apart the comparison with the semi-gods of progressive rock and the time they recorded that song, I had to take similar approach. Instead of release the first song with almost 20 min long, I will divide the song in two parts. However live I will play the song without cuts. I’ll post more details about the recording process soon and I am sure it will worth it the wait.
Since I started my progressive rock project I’ve been receiving great support. Thank you all. It’s been an amazing journey. In this small post i will try to describe how’s been.
It’s been a pleasure to record the album for two reasons. First finally i have the opportunity to play my favourite musical genre, of course progressive rock. I am using crazy effects, creating different atmospheres with easy and hard parts, expressing myself as an artist, and creating an amazing story. Second, because of the readings I am doing, I’ve been learning so much about the world, climate, climate change and consequences. Oh boy, so many books and papers. So much to learn about how the world is interconnected.
The project is beautiful but it is not easy. There are lot of difficulties. As a musician, the first challenge after the songs are ready is the recording process, and it is not an easy task. Why? Mainly because of money. Recordings demand time and money. To do any recording, even the simplest one (with good quality), some minimal equipments are necessary. Also it is a lot of work. These are the two main reasons why professional musicians (and studio engineers) don’t like to play (work) for free. However, this is another topic lets get back to my process.
I’ve done some sessions before, so I have good equipment to record my bass. Therefore, almost all the recordings can be done in a home studio. In addition, it is cheaper than any professional studio, right? True, but the home studio won’t simply appear in my desk out of nowhere. That was my first hit. Even if I am able to record everything by myself (which mostly i can do anyway but some musicians friends will contribute), I still don’t have the whole equipment necessary to record the whole album. This is slowing the process a bit because I don’t have all the money necessary to buy everything at once. Therefore, I am not only recording the songs by parts but also buying the necessary equipment by parts (used and new).
This is only the first bump. It is certain that I will have more bumps during my journey which is part of the job. So far the songs are (in my rumble opinion) becoming awesome! My plan is to release the first song by December. Lets see if i can keep this deadline.
The conversation about recycling and the environment are not new. Normally we do our job with plastic bottles and the correct recycle bin. But how about our clothes? What we should do with it? Is there a way to recycle clothes? Fortunately the answers is yes, there is a way to recycle “some” clothes. There are some companies doing this as Patagonia and H&M. In particular H&M Has a recycling program and released a campaign to receive clothes donations:
Here are some facts. Most of clothes end in the landfill. Why? Some of the reasons are similar to my post about how to recycle an old blender. I didn’t know anything about until I realized that I had so many clothes. Then I started a little research in the Internet. Here is what I’ve found:
According to a new report from the Council for Textile Recycling (CTR), the average American throws away 70 pounds. of clothing every year, which equals roughly 191 T-shirts…per person. Collectively, that’s approximately 3.8 billion pounds of waste.
Cotton is the world’s most commonly used natural fiber and is in nearly 40 percent of our clothing. It has a clean, wholesome image long cultivated by the garment industry. But the truth is that it is a thirsty little plant that drinks up more of its fair share of water. It is also one of the most chemically dependent crops in the world. While only 2.4% of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton, it consumes 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals and 25 percent of insecticides. Some genetically modified varieties, which are resistant to some insects and tolerant of some herbicides, now make up more than 20% of the world’s cotton crop.
So far Existing cotton recycling methods make poor-quality fibers, and there is no efficient way to recycle garments of mixed materials, so the vast majority of clothes end up in landfill. In addition, the production of cotton destroys farmland and pollutes waterways.
Synthetic polyesters and nylon are made from petrochemicals, a byproduct of oil refining which increases our need and reliance on oil and increases harmful pollution which affects us all.
Dyes are creating a chemical Fukushima in Indonesia. The Citarum River is considered one of the most polluted rivers in the world due in great part to the hundreds of textile factories lining its shores. It also uses a lot of fresh water and the dye wastewater is discharged, often untreated, into nearby rivers, where it reaches the sea, eventually spreading around the globe.
One day I had to move. It is only when the moving happens one realizes that accumulation is not really necessary. We are used to buy new stuff even when we don’t really needed. Also sale is kind of a magic word. I must confess I was like that too. Until the day I needed to move. I checked my closet and I though: why do I have so many clothes? Then I started to pack my stuff. Gosh, it was a lot of stuff. A couple of luggage only with my clothes. I had so many clothes that some of them I didn’t even remember I had. After that day my life and habits were changed. Instead of buy things that I don’t needed nor I used much, I started to spend money only on necessary stuff.
I have a procedure that works for me in order use my clothes until the very end. The procedure could be extended to other products. I started with clothes and at the end I had a feeling of joy. Joy because at the same time I was able to achieve goals such as:
my money was being well used
I wasn’t wasting
If a had to donate I was helping someone else
I was doing sort of recycling, reusing.
I know, for each person will work differently, but here is what I do and I hope it would help more people to achieve similar feelings of joy and also to recycle and reuse some clothes.
The first step is: stop the waste and only buy clothes you REALLY need and you will use a lot. Someone could say, but every time I buy clothes they’re necessary. Really? For me, every time I saw something I wanted to buy (mainly shirts) I asked myself: do I really need this? How many shirts/pants/shorts do I have at home? Are those clothes in my home really that useless? Do I have to buy new ones or I can still wear a little bit more? If I the answer was yes then I would buy otherwise no. It worked like magic. I started to buy only things I really needed. I was happy because I was not being wasteful and mainly because I was saving money.
The second step: to solve the problem at home. Too many clothes to wear. I divide clothes into categories. For example the shirts are divided into two categories: shirts (or pants, shorts, etc) to use normally at home and shirts to go out. The shirts to use at home are those shirts that are not really new. These are the ones losing color, with some stains, etc. The shirts to go out are the ones that I use to go out at night, to work (if the work needs a better dressing code), to play my shows (also work), etc. How will this division help? For some people the division is already a process to see which clothes will be donated. Some of the shirts could not fit anymore because it shinkred or the body magically changed (someone gained/lost weight). There are lot of old but usable t-shirts, blue jeans, ball caps and more that you may not want … but someone else does. Also, when deciding to donate clothes, ask yourself, if you were at a store would you buy it again?
After the division the goal is to wear clothes more, starting with the old ones. I know it is kind of contradictory, but why? The logic was simple, to use new clothes I had to use a lot the old ones until they’re not wearable anymore. When the clothes are not wearable anymore I replace that piece for one of the new ones (which at that time was not really new but as I wasn’t using it is kind of new). There are some good reasons for that. First I spent money buy them. Second I don’t like to waste and it doesn’t matter my financial situation. Third if I buy something and I don’t really use I have the combined feeling of waste and bad investment.
After the clothes are not wearable, is there another way to reuse (recycle)? Yeap, there are some ways to reuse some of the clothes. The main idea here is: please don’t throw old clothes in the garbage. Here are some examples (ok, I know, some of them are good, some of them are really good and some of them are not that good):
Last weekend something really interesting happened. One of my neighbors decided to dump his old TV in the back alley. Very interesting decision, considering that two weeks ago there was a recycle day for electronics one block from our place (which by the way had an awesome response from the neighborhood as you can see in the picture).
I was asking myself, why did someone just dumped the TV there? Did the person knew about the drop off? Well, I considered some of these possible reasons:
1-The TV was working until that specific day and then it stopped working, so the person had to buy another one and dumped the old one somewhere.
2- The person didn’t know about the drop off.
3- The TV was working and the person wanted that someone to use it. So the person dumped the TV in the back alley expecting that someone will reuse it.
4- The person didn’t care about recycling and environment.
The first reason seems reasonable, except the fact that there are specific places to throw old TVs. I know, those places sometimes are not obvious as I wrote here, but the majority of electronics appliances have a symbol showing they won’t belong to normal garbage.
The second reason is very unlikely considering that there were posters informing the drop off inside and outside the building and also posters around our neighborhood. Also there are drop off days in our neighborhood (minimum twice per year), so I think it is possible to store the TV and wait for the next drop off.
The third reason is indeed a great act. I do the same sometimes but not with monsters super heavy old TVs. I do with books, DVDs or clothes. Super heavy TVs are not easy to transport. Besides how someone would know that the TV is working perfectly? Adding a sign? I had a similar experience before. I owned an old heavy TV (few years ago). I put my TV in my storage and I put add an ad in a website offering the TV for free. So a couple of days later a guy came and picked up the TV. Of course I don’t even want to comment the fourth reason.
Later during the day, I was at my apartment and I heard some bangs outside. A homeless guy was trying to open the TV (probably there was something valuable to sell inside the TV ). The guy did his job and of course left the TV there in multiple pieces. After the “service” it was clear that the TV would go to a common garbage landfill. It is not the correct option because those TVs have poisonous metals and frequently those metals will contaminate aquifers.
This is how the TV was after the “service”
I started to think whose fault is this? The former TV owner? The homeless guy? The government (of course, blaming the government is kind of default always)? I am not sure, but that is the reason i am writing this post. There are alternative solutions. I gave here some possible reasons to dump an old TV in a common trash and some possible solutions to drop off the TV in the right place. I know is not easy but I hope to spread more the message make the world a cleaner place.
A couple of weeks ago I tried to use my blender and it did not work. My first thought it was, I need to get a new one. It could be a small problem easy to fix. However, as the majority of the world population, I don’t know how to fix a blender (or any electronic product) so i have to find someone to do that for me. Normally the cost to fix a blender is similar to buy a new one. Ok, I know, I am being cheap and that is not environmental friendly but I am not in that eco-level yet. It is a working in progress.
However, to feel “less guilty” about the situation i thought, is the blender recyclable? Should i throw it in the regular garbage? I am trying to reduce the amount of garbage that i generate and the amount of garbage that I throw in the regular garbage (which goes to the landfills). First, it is obvious that the blender should not go to the regular garbage. Why? Because all those products have a label saying so. Why? These products are made of different materials, and some of them are harmful to the environment. It can pollute water, food and cause diseases in animals and humans.
Second, where should i dispose the blender? In my recyclable bin? No. But where? I searched a bit in the Internet. I found some places where it is possible to dispose some electronic equipments, but unfortunately it was not for kitchen appliances but for computers, remote controls, tv, etc. I searched a little bit more and then I finally discovered that in the city where I live there is a program where in certain locations it is possible to dispose the blender. In the end I did the right thing and my old blender went to the right place. I used one of the neighbourhood programs to collect electronics.
I live in a building with around 20 suites, and it is not hard to find electronics inside our normal garbage can. Why? Do the people know about the recyclable program? Are they lazy ? All these products have a label showing they should not go to regular garbage. Well, I didn’t know about the program until I started to look for the right place to throw my old blender. Surprisingly, here in my city an environmental fee is charged every time an electronic product is sold to support the program.
What are the consequences of not dispose this kind of garbage in a proper way? An example (which only scratches the surface) is this documentary about the plastic pollution in the ocean called “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Most of these products are made of plastic with a combination of poison metals. Most of the plastic that has ever been created since the 19th century is still somewhere on our planet. So if it never goes away, where does it go? And If they are threw into the sea? Thousands of miles away from civilization, Midway Atoll is in one of the most remote places on earth. And yet its become ground zero for The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, accumulating plastics from three distant continents.
Once I heard an old tale about a huge forest fire. All the animals of the forest were running away from the fire except for a little bird. The bird was diving into a lake close to the forest trying to hold as much water as possible and coming back in the direction of the fire. When he was flying above the fire he flapped its wings to release all the water he was holding, which it was normally a few drops. When an elephant saw the bird he asked: “Are you stupid? You know you will never end that fire”. The bird answered: “I am doing my part, if all the animals do the same we can fight the fire and save whatever we can of our forest”.
Sometimes I think, destroy a little less doesn’t protect anything. There are billions of people in this word. Millions of them are throwing garbage in the wrong place (including some of my neighbours) but I am trying to do my part and I know I am not the only one.
It is not new that plants help the environment, but I’ve been trying to read more news on the internet about helping the environment in general and I must confess that I am bored. If you google any site talking about environment you will find someone talking about climate change and CO2 and another one saying that CO2 is not causing climate change. It is like have your own soccer team or political party, it is not science any more. Look this article talking about green roofs. This article talks about the advantages and disadvantages (including costs and maintenance) of the roofs (which are not cheap by the way). However, there is one last part in the last line where it says something about “cooling the planet”. Damn it! You go to the commentaries and global warming this, CO2 that. Sometimes you can find even more radical ideas as we should not eat meat because the carbon footprint. Ok, yeah, we should also breath less to release less CO2 and we also should hold our farts because of the releasing of methane (another and even more powerful greenhouse gas). So, are we missing the point? Could we please focus on the benefits versus disadvantages of green roofs? Are we saving the planet using a green roof? I doubt it. However it is an interesting idea, and could be applicable considering the costs/maintenance. They need to be adapted to each place and situation and of course for some places they can’t be economically viable because they probably need more maintenance than traditional roofs. So a balance must exist.
Credit: Arild Vågen – Own work
Another interesting idea is the use of rain gardens to help the runoff problem. Runoff is the portion of rainfall, snowmelt, and/or irrigation water that runs over the soil surface toward the stream rather than infiltrating into the soil. Each soil type has an infiltration rate (the amount of water able to enter the soil in a specified time period) and infiltration capacity (the upper limit of infiltration rate). However in urban areas the infiltration rate could be close to zero because of the impervious areas (roofs, driveways, parking lots, pavements, compacted soils). Consequently the runoff in urban areas is large and it is a major component of flash floods. In addition runoff flows can pick up soil contaminants such as petroleum, pesticides, fertilizers, trace metals, etc.
The rain gardens capture the initial flow of storm water and reduce the accumulation of toxins flowing directly into natural waterways. Thus the stormwater soaks into the ground instead of flow directly to storm drains. In addition, they help to control erosions due the excessive runoff. Similarly to green roofs, rain gardens have to be adapted to place and situation. For example, native plants are recommended (for both) because they are more tolerant of one’s local climate, soil, and water conditions.
A place which has a rain garden and a green roof is more environmental friendly and it is also helping to save the world, right? Well, it is important to remember the costs and maintenance of these products. Be green does not mean cheap or easy. However the advantages of green roof and rain garden such as energy savings, runoff and pollution reduction, temperature control should also be considered. Maybe you won’t save the world but you can save a few bucks and have a better lifestyle. Besides, it is St. Patrick’s day, so green is the official color.