04:36 AM

Cooling Man: A cheap shot at a carbon-spewing Burning Man?

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article on coolingman.org, created to calculate the carbon/pollution emissions of those going to the annual Burning Man arts and culture festival 2hours out of Reno, Nevada.

Add up your car mileage to get there and back, plus electric generators and anything else, and you get a total in carbon/pollution emissions.

Then, like corporate America, artists will be directed to mitigate their pollution by purchasing greenhouse gas "credits," or "offsets," by investing in alternative energy that doesn't use fossil fuels: solar or wind power, methane capture from landfills and livestock. Tree planting also qualifies.

Burners are asked to pay $5 to $10 per ton of personal pollution to the nonprofit Trust for Conservation Innovation in San Francisco, which parcels the donations among various renewable-energy projects nationwide.

The money collected from 65 Burning Man participants so far -- $1,000 -- will help pay for a wind turbine that powers a casino on a Sioux reservation in South Dakota. It's the first American Indian-owned wind power plant in the nation.

Whoopee! Pay for electricity for a casino...!

IMHO, coolingman.org could be used as a cheap shot at the Burning Man community. It's not as if Burning Man goers have a choice of vehicles to get there, there are no electric cars or other more fuel efficient ways of getting there. Same goes for most other activities that would be done anyway, anywhere else, and that don't have easily available green alternatives.

And buying "offsets" makes it seem as if everything is OK. It can offset actual measures being taken to reduce emmissions at the festival. If a yellow smog sits above Black Rock City is everything cool even if it were *all* offset? Clearly not because Burning Man should be a showcase and an example of doing things the right way.

It is safe to say that the people that go to Burning Man are much more aware of the environment than most other groups that I can think of as a group. The policy of leave no trace, for example,  is something which is practiced every year.

Burning Man's Black Rock City becomes one of Nevada's largest cities for one week a year, with more than 30,000 people living on harsh desert plateau on which nothing grows. It comes out of nothing and goes away to nothing.

And in that week it becomes a festival of creativity and abundance. There are several daily newspapers, more than fifty radio stations. If you go, you will see structures, art, and performances that you cannot see anywhere else in the world at the same time.

There is no commerce--except for coffee and ice that can be bought in center camp. There is nothing that is "sponsored by Microsoft" or any commercial message at all. Just being away from the constant commercial tugs at your mind is incredibly refreshing.

Most that go there, are working in groups throughout the year on ambitious projects, theme camps, and welding/building incredible structures.

These activities teach teamwork, they teach how to collaborate, how to deal with difficult people.  And to work without any payment or even named credit--but contributing sweat, time, and money towards a common group goal.

Although it attracts people from around the world, Burning Man is very much a San Francisco Bay Area/Southern California festival.

And as such, the people that go there are living in an area that has great sway on technology, culture and the arts worldwide. Thus the influence of the Burning Man awareness of how we damage the environment becomes translated on a global scale.

Cooling Man could be used as a cheap shot to point to the carbon-release of activities that make Burning Man happen--without recognizing the positive effects on the environment that this community creates through their daily practice of awareness.


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Burning Man Bingo (Thanks Kat!)