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Tuesday, 04 December 2007

How Green was the Green Man? - Page 3

Written by Matthew Alan Taylor
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Can 45,000 people journey vast distances to a lifeless desert and participate in an environmentally sustainable festival devoted to burning stuff? This year, Burning Man attempted to do just that: go green.


Of course, while the solar arrays might generate clean power on the playa and relieve noise pollution, they’ll never make up for the expenditure of fossil fuels that are required to transport them to the desert.

Peef recognizes that the festival has made strides but still has a long way to go. “Center Camp [which is run by the BORG] uses old, incandescent lights…and a lot of the lights use 500 watts a pop. It’s not very efficient. They are slowly investing in better lighting technologies. It’s expensive and it takes time,” said Peef.

Aliza Wasserman, founder of Green Guerillas Against Greenwash, was disappointed to observe few electric vehicles on the playa. She places blame back in the real world at the doorstep of a San Ramon oil company.

“Chevron bought the patent for a new type of battery for electric cars and shut down the battery company and did not allow the patents to be used by anyone because it was a huge threat to oil profits,” said Wasserman. Indeed, while few electric vehicles could be found on the playa, quite a few trumpeted the promise of biofuels.

Fueling Ecocide or Fueling Hope?

While burner activists agree that fossil fuel extraction and consumption is destructive and unsustainable, a broad agreement has yet to exist in the burner community on what should replace fossil fuels. Some see biofuels as a next step.

About 85 percent of the BORG’s generators were powered by biodiesel this year. According to Price, “We took [out] 11,000 gallons [of petroleum] that were coming from human rights hotspots like Saudi Arabia and Nigeria and instead we’re running it off french fry juice from Reno – thanks, Reno!”

While most environmentalists have no objection to reclaimed veggie oil, large-scale biofuel cultivation is controversial due to evidence of deforestation, species loss, and human rights violations caused by large biofuel plantations.

Prof. Ignacio Chapela, one of UC Berkeley’s most outspoken critics of biofuels, objected to the BORG’s promotion of the term.

“Even the use of the term biofuels has enormous propaganda value for the movement toward biofuels… They’re playing with fire – propaganda fire – which is the worst kind of fire you can have around art,” said Chapela.


(Page 3 of 10)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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