Thus is the eyebrow-raising title of a session this Thursday at the University of Nevada (Reno), being hosted by Burning Man founder Will Roger. We know that Burning Man has as one of its Ten Principles “Leave No Trace”, which is actually a registered trademark of the Federal Bureau of Land Management – and a requirement the event needs to meet to get its permit from the Feds.
Other than “LNT”, what is the environmental ethic of Burning Man? Even BMOrg themselves admit that the event generates massive pollution and greenhouse gases. If you take the emissions per capita calculated by Cooling Man from 2006 data, and compare it to Wikipedia’s list of biggest CO2 emissions per capita (which has 2005 data), if Burning Man were a country it would be the 4th biggest polluter in the world.
The Playa’s delicate ecosystem and landscape is also being permanently altered by the presence of Burning Man.
Burning Man made a token attempt to be more eco-conscious in 2007, when the trendies were going green and Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms were raising gigantic “green funds” (that turned out to be spectacular failures). The 2007 theme was The Green Man and their eco-friendly stance was endorsed personally by former
president of vice Vice President Al Gore, who said:
“I think it’s just great that the people of Black Rock City have made the Green Man this year’s theme for Burning Man, and I hope that folks will use TV Free Burning Man as a platform to spread that great message even further”
It’s hard to see what (if any) progress has been made in BMOrg’s environmental ethic in the seven years since then, other than the $40 vehicle tax which the rulers have graciously imposed for environmental reasons (if you believe BMOrg) or to make more money (if you believe almost every Burner who’s commented on the Internet about it).
The Green Man-related calculations showed that if just 70% of Burners offset one ton of carbon emissions, Black Rock City could be the first carbon neutral city in the world. This seems like a worthy and highly achievable goal, which would just need a modicum of leadership to implement. A ton of carbon offsets costs $13.62 in California. This means that BMOrg could pay the offsets for EVERYONE out of the $1.4 million vehicle tax revenues, pay Pershing County’s increased costs too, and still have hundreds of thousands of dollars of profit left over. Just from the vehicle tax! Of course, they would still have millions of “non-profits” left over from the event too.
Will Roger’s presentation will also cover the “spread of its culture”, which presumably is a more environmentally friendly output of the party. I won’t be attending, but perhaps if anyone reading this does, they might want to raise some of these issues.
Hey, BMOrg, want to use Burner culture to make a difference in the world? Want to use Burning Man to help the environment? Take your new vehicle tax windfall and buy some god-damned carbon credits.