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Saturday, February 16, 2008 

Why am I anti-burning man?

That my friend is a GREAT question, that not even I am able to fully answer.

I've never been to it, so really does my opinion even count? I don't know, but have YOU been to a NASCAR race? Probably not, but if you're reading this, you most likely dislike NASCAR in a very big way.

I've heard soooo many stories from "burners" that extol the festival's greatness, hell I'm in love with one of them (a burner, not a story).

Maybe I feel like the festival is increasingly hypocritical. The party is run by a LLC (Limited Liability Company), that turns a profit (~$600,000 for 2006), to me that flies in the face of the bartering only culture within the festival. Oh, but they donate to non-profits, such as Black Rock Arts Foundation you say. Wouldn't you hate to know that between 2001 and 2005 BRAF raised nearly $300,000 but paid out a mere $82,000 to the artist they claim to support (also of note, BRAF got an "exceptionally poor" rating from non-profit watchdog group Charity Navigator), I don't know about you, but if I'm giving to a charity I'd want a better turn around than that!

I'm not even going to start in on the photography contracts that must be signed, if you actually read them, and weed out the double-speak used by the writers, you'll see it for what it is, corporate control.

Then we have the environmental impact on the playa, or even the environment in general. which is downplayed by Black Rock City LLC.

"Black Rock City LLC is committed to utilizing environmentally favorable solutions as they become financially sound alternatives to the use of fossil fuels and non-renewable materials. We encourage our staff and participants to use these alternatives in their camps in Black Rock City, and further to promote and encourage environmental awareness and make use of emerging technologies. We are determined to promote and continue to support the Leave No Trace principles, the use of renewable energy, the use of non-fossil fuels, recycling valuable reusable materials, and composting organic waste materials when ever possible.
We are open to suggestions toward making the Burning Man experience environmentally sound and we will utilize new methods and technology as they become suitable to our needs. Help us make Black Rock City environmentally viable.
Board of Directors
Black Rock City LLC"

O'rly? do you honestly think your green efforts make any kind of dent in the environmental impact of ~40,000 people driving or flying to Nevada, buying ridiculous amounts of bottled water, beer, packaged foods (99% of which use plastic packaging, erm uh I mean oil packaging). Or the impact of those 40,000 people running around the desert. What about the improperly handled diesel fuel, the fireworks, the thousands of fires, the garbage that gets buried and never removed from the site, the wood and other resources used for building the "art" throughout the festival, and so on and so on, I'd go so far as to say Burning Man is now the worst polluting festival ever, EVER! (run on sentence FTW!)
I don't know, I could go on with many more arguments against the festival. I really do like the ideology behind it, but really it has gotten out of hand. I could be COMPLETELY wrong.
I do plan on going someday, when life permits. And I go with the hope that my mind will be changed.

and no I didn't proofread for grammar, meh...

Happy Burning,

I have to say I completely agree with this. These same thoughts about the destruction of the environment is one of the main reason's I am against such thing as "Reggae on the River" now called "Reggae Rising", simply because of the destruction it has on the environment and the hypocrisy's of those who run it while trying to say they are being green and about the environment.

Bravo, what necessary phrase..., a remarkable idea

Totally agreed. I have never been to BM either, but from stories it looks like a giant orgy in desert, in the name of art and expression.

this is what happens when a gathering becomes an event.
a "city" is much more difficult to manage than a village.
i would guess none of the original organizers ever saw themselves as city managers.
burning man organizers now have to manage their city year round, just like black rock and they are beginning to feel the pressure and responsibility.
inevitably, the cantankerous or onerous individual or organization will appear and the spirit of a gathering and it's impact will be muddled down in politics.
it is life. what is dynamic will become static and hopefully a compostable launching pad for the next dynamic.
yes, it is dionysian, but it is not on mainstreet.
yes, it has an environmental impact that will have to be managed.
i think though that by and large, at this point in time, those that organize this event and those that attend are aware of this and when at home are committed to making the world a better place and bring that consciousness to the event.
to me it is a conscious way of celebrating art, being human and blowing off some societal steam.
bless their hippy hearts !

I agree. There is a HUGE environmental impact on the playa. And if one knows anything about environmental evolution, one is aware that a desert is the most delicate of all environments on the planet. This is due to the lack of water in this arid climate. A desert is not a wasteland as some seem to think. It a delicate environmental entity that needs to be protected.

Like the author, the concept of Burning Man is great. I love the idea of an artistic oasis. But to have it in a desert is about as un-environmental as it can get. Not to mention that the playa is also a place of sacredness to the indigenous peoples of the area.

Finally, someone to put it all together in a way that makes sense. BM is a huge waste of precious resources. I would much rather be at a gathering at a farm or eco-community, planting trees and giving back to mama nature, not trashing her. I have been to BM, and to me it felt really dis-connected.

Jacob don't feel compelled to go! You are cool enough as it is!

Math is not an opinion... a BM ticket in 2012 cost 350 $ and you have to be "lucky" to get one... 60000 sold tickets in 2012 X 350$ = 21000000 $
not bad for a non profit festival made out of volunteers.
They declared in 2011 a "profit" of only 60.000 $ given in donation to who? their foundation.
I rather be fucked by a midget dressed like Elvis in Downtown Vegas than contribute this festival with my money.

I went to Burning Man and was utterly shocked at how the festival was run, the people that attended and how much hypocrisy was on display, primarily seeded by the organizers.

I have been to festivals all over the world and I have never seen such abuse of the environment in one focused area. The lack of infrastructure married with the lack of social and environmental respect make it hard to have a good thing to say about BM.

I was there for 10 days, it cost me $3000 and it's 10 days of my life I will never get back. It's a cult that does a bad job of hiding it's intentions and a worse job of pretending to be "green".

A good video on the empty rhetoric and hypocrisy of Burning Man. Enjoy.


I don't know what Burning Man was like in 2008. I thought similarily, but as for 2014, it turns out you and I are now "completely" wrong.


The primary environmental impact is dust, which in 8 days is about equivalent to a single natural dust storm. The CO2 emissions are 0.07 tons/person/day, whereas US average is 0.05 tons/person/day, roughly similar to non-playa lifestyle. The most significant impacts are on economy, which are positive for local communities. Tribes can receive 30% of their *annual* business from the 8 days of burning man.

What exactly does HUGE environmental impact mean? Define HUGE?

If you look at all the U.S. Bureau of Land Management environmental assessments for the state of Nevada, you'll find that MANY other projects have much, much GREATER impacts than Burning Man. Most of those are mining projects.

As to the perception of the event being poorly managed, dirty, and hypocritical, that's largely your perception. What you don't see is the year-round planning, environmental assessments, and pre-and-post event clean up.

FYI, I am not part of Burning Man management, nor gov't. I am a regular guy, going for first time, who found this out by reading stuff.

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