Burning man is the world.
I mean, think about it, a fun idea to bring people together, celebrate and promote worthwhile causes grows from a few people to 70,000 people then nature decides to turn a dry lakebed into a mud pit and suddenly people realize that burning might be a problem and not a solution. That maybe a pop-up city party in the middle of the desert which promotes sustainability while releasing 100,000 tons of carbon every year a couple of miles from the fastest warming city in the country (Reno, 11 degrees warmer than it was in 1970) is a little hypocritical.
But burning man is awesome. I used to show a great documentary called, “Taking my parents to Burning Man” in my classroom each year. It shows the fun, the costumes, the dancing, the life changing experience that the yearly festival represents. I’m always jealous of friends who are going to the burn and especially local artists who create massive art for the event.
I’ve never been to the burn, as a high school teacher and coach August and September are busy months so the timing never works out plus what once drew me to the festival now makes me go Hmmmmm. I think it’s time to rethink the burn, keep the principles, keep the party, keep the dancing and revelry but give it a real focus. Exactly like what the world needs.
The world burns too much. That shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, we suck at controlling our burns, have since we started burning fossil fuels in 1859 and as society evolved, we decided that fossil fuels would provide all the potential energy needed to move us forward. It has, but it also has led to the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other gasses which are now causing some very bad things.
So maybe burning man needs a refresh just like the world, keep all the fun stuff but instead of a giant burn at the end of the festival, how about a giant group planting so that instead of releasing carbon, the festival releases oxygen (GreenMan). Or how about fighting some of the big societal ills, host 70,000 people building homes (HomeMan) or learning how to better oneself (HealthMan).
Because we’re in a funny place with the environment, 40% of people believe what little mini-Trump said at the Republican debate, that climate change is a hoax. Well, it is not and if you need proof check the summer stats: Highest temps ever recorded, wildfires, hurricanes, highest ocean temps ever, cue the Bill Nye video from a few years ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iubpN72D6AI).
But here’s the thing, we know all this yet we keep denying and arguing and doing not enough to make things better. Burning man is a great example, nice intentions, great in theory but it now has grown too big and been invaded by people who don’t care enough about MOOP (Matter Out Of Place).
Burning man is also awesome, it shows that many people care and are interested in partying their way out of this crisis but how? The simple answer is to be the solution.
Forget protests and platitudes and just live in a way that will preserve what we have. Look at your consumption and your carbon footprint and think about if it is fair. Make some small attainable goals and stick to them (No plastic, drive less, grow things). Be honest with the next generation about what phones and air conditioners and planes and cars and burning stuff is doing/has done. Teach that we are the frogs in the slowly boiling water.
And most importantly, that many things like burning man are awesome in certain ways and problematic in others and, just like life, sometimes require change to evolve.