Climate Change Just Ruined a Taylor Swift Concert in Brazil
The venue sold water at $2 a cup.
It finally happened, and it was that bad.
Taylor Swift and her entourage thought it would be fine to move forward with a concert in Brazil during a catastrophic heat wave with heat indexes reaching 137F degrees. It's only spring there. They ended winter with temperatures above 100F. To call it irresponsible is an understatement.
Sure enough, one of her fans died.
We don't have exact numbers yet, but dozens more wound up suffering heat stroke and needing medical attention. The concert organizers and venue managers did absolutely nothing to try and make the event safer. They packed Swifties into that stadium with zero attention to ventilation. They didn't provide enough water. Based on everything I've read, they followed the usual protocol of banning fans from bringing their own food and drinks.
You could buy a cup of water for $2.
Here's a snippet from The Washington Post:
Concertgoers reported a chaotic scene at the venue. Fans fell ill, complained of inadequate distribution of water and said that the show was dangerously crowded. Several at the concert fainted in the heat, according to local media reports.
Let's just say the obvious, it's insanely dumb to hold a concert during a climate disaster. That's exactly what happened.
Apparently, there wasn't a single true adult in the room telling anyone to back off. I guess there was too much money at stake and too much excitement for anyone to think clearly. If there were ever a sign that we were on the wrong path, this is it. This is the reddest of flags that we can't go on like this. It's not just about the heat. It's about the catastrophically bad judgment, and not just on the part of Taylor Swift's team. Someone should have stopped this nightmare before it happened. Maybe someone did, and they were ignored.
I wouldn't doubt it.
You see, the same attitude that brought us collapse is also busy ensuring that it unfolds in the worst possible way, with millions of people doing harm to themselves in a desperate attempt to live life as if nothing is wrong and nobody needs to alter their behavior.
Taylor Swift talks about her shattered heart. I hope she moves beyond that and, in her grief, finds the strength to finally start talking about climate change and the collapse of the planet. This wasn't a random, senseless tragedy.
This was allowed to happen.
It was avoidable.
If you aren't sure what happens to the human body during a heat wave like Brazil's, read Jeff Goodell's The Heat Will Kill You First. It paints a vivid picture of how vulnerable we are to what's already happening.
It's bigger than any single musician.
Climate scientists have been telling us for decades now that runaway global warming was going to hit home. Eventually, it was going to take a sledgehammer to every corner of our lives. It wasn't going to let everyone keep ignoring it in favor of vacations and concerts.
It was going to take things from us.
The media coverage hasn't said a word about climate change. They're blaming the venue organizers. And while it's definitely their fault, let's face the truth. You're not going to prevent heat strokes at a packed concert where it's hot enough to kill by offering people more water at $2 a cup.
There's no way to make that safe.
This tragedy marks a turning point, one where it's increasingly impossible to ignore the collapse of our planet. It's going to disrupt vacations and conferences. It's going to ruin more concerts.
This should be a wake up call.
The Eras Tour has been a case study in denial, as fans crowded together without masks or ventilation all summer, exposing themselves to a disabling virus and getting so angry at anyone who dared to even suggest that they were being immature, careless, or reckless.
As for people criticizing Taylor Swift for canceling the next concert in Brazil, how heartless can you get? She should be canceling it. She should be torn up. She should be feeling this, and reflecting on it.
That's called being human.
Also, it's not safe.
More importantly, she and her team need to realize that we live in a different world. We don't live in a world where you get to ignore threats anymore. You don't get to assume you'll be okay, that the bad things will happen to someone else. These threats face all of us.
Look, I don't want to start a beef with Swifties. Nobody deserves to die in a climate disaster while trying to pay tribute to their idol. On the other hand, this represents a particular kind of problem in our society. On the one hand, people want to maintain a positive self-image of being caring, intelligent, deeply empathetic individuals. On the other hand, all that compassion and intelligence evaporates at the first sign of inconvenience. All the while, there's a long line of predatory event managers and vacation planners willing to take someone's money while promising them that everything's just fine.
Here's the worst part:
The 23-year-old woman who died at the concert was probably told over and over again that she would be okay. The specter of capitalism worked overtime to make her feel like it was completely normal to attend a concern when the air itself was trying to kill her. The venue wanted her money.
They didn't care what happened to her.
There's a range of terms from psychology to describe what happened. You could call it normalcy bias. You could call it reactance. You could call it catabolic capitalism. It all feeds into the same problem: As our planet's health collapses, people are going to feel even more pressure to pretend everything's fine. They're going to do dangerous, reckless things, just so they can convince themselves that life hasn't changed.
Mark it for the history books.
This week, we saw just how far people are willing to go to ignore the plain reality right in front of them, and what dangers they're willing to face just in order to avoid the fear of missing out.
Of course, don't expect the entertainment industry to make any genuine reforms without being absolutely forced into it. Left to their own devices, they're going to keep trying to rake in as much money as possible, packing fans into unsafe spaces during killer heat indexes and pandemics without adequate ventilation or water. They're never going to face the truth.
Nothing says climate denial like going through with a concert during a climate disaster. It should be the last time this happens.
Unfortunately, it won't.
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