The giant carbon footprint of Burning Man

Grist reports: This year, 70,000 people will land in Black Rock City (that is, if the apocalyptic bug infestation doesn’t change some minds). That’s 70,000 people who are traveling from all over the world, and they ain’t taking sail boats. Plus there’s the actual burning man, a 100-plus-foot sculpture that is doused with gas and lit up while thousands of white people dance around it. So, just how much carbon does Burning Man burn?

Hard to know exactly, but last year LA Weekly unearthed a 2007 website called Cooling Man, where concerned Burners calculated the carbon footprint of the event. According to Cooling Man:

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.

LA Weekly reported that 0.7 tons is actually double the weekly national average per person. And if we assume that the yield per Burner hasn’t changed enormously since 2006 (although it probably has now that Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies get helicoptered in) and update the numbers to reflect the 2015 crowd estimates, this year’s event will spew a minimum of 49,000 tons of greenhouse gases. How much is that? About the same that the nation of Swaziland (population 1.2 million) produces in a week. [Continue reading…]

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