Burning Man is a polarizing event, as most people either love or hate the festival. Burners will do anything to argue that Burning Man is the best event in the country (calling it a music festival wouldn’t be appreciated I’ve learned), but an article has recently emerged that effectively slams Burning Man into the ground, bringing up very valid points surrounding its procedures.
The main argument made is how Burning Man’s ‘environmentalism’ is merely a facade. The first and most obvious issue is the fact that tons of wooden sculptures are doused in fuel and burned, releasing a number of chemicals into the air. Add to this the fact that a total number of 70,000 people are expected to file into Black Rock City this year, and this can lead to some real issues. A website called Cooling Man conducted some research on 2006’s Burning Man, estimating the gathering’s carbon footprint. In their own words:
Burning Man 2006 generated an estimated 27,000 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This figure includes emissions from participant and staff travel to and from Black Rock City, as well as on-Playa power generation, art cars, fire art and, of course, burning the man. Dividing ~27,000 tons by ~40,000 people yields an estimated ~0.7 tons per Burning Man participant.
In 2006, this was DOUBLE the weekly national average per person. When you take into account the burning sculptures and the different forms of transportation needed to get 70,000 to the deserts of Nevada, the numbers start to make sense. And given that the carbon numbers are from 9 years ago, we can only assume they’ve gone up. An update to the numbers shows that if Burners party like they did in 2006, an estimated 49,000 tons of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere, which is more than Switzerland consumers in a week – with a population of 1.2 million – more than 17 times Burning Man’s temporary population. We can only hope that Burning Man does something soon to combat this issue, and soon.