This year I'm just a
jaded ReBurning Man Spectator!

Best as I can figure ReBurning Man 2007 drew 45,000 plus participants and one agnostic burner (that would be me). The theme of this year's bacchanalia was the environment, or Green Man. I had high hopes, that I'd see and be inspired by the convergence of art and the environment, but alas this year's burn was sort of a disappointment in part because it seemed to have the least interesting art I've ever seen on the playa and that too many of people there did not seem to have any awareness (like most people in the default world) of the dire state of the global environment.

burning man lives to burn again
I had to laugh at the irony of someone getting arrested for arson, at an organized counter culture gathering which cost me $280 just to get in the gate, and where the highlight of the event is a ceremonial burning of an effigy.

The wonder and awe I experience at my first burn, this year was replaced with the worry that we as a species live in an unsustainable world, and the problem is being exacerbated by an ever growing divergence between the have's and the have not's! I read in BARRON's (July 9, 2007) p.37 "There is nothing simple about living on less than a buck a day, which 1.2 billion people do, or on two bucks a day, as three billion people do. Income of $6 a day puts a person in the middle class in developing countries, but only 400 million people now qualify." Despite acknowledging the big picture problems of the world, at Black Rock City I found guilty pleasure in a way that a majority of the worlds population can't begin to relate to; and that is by being an airport bum at the magic airport.

black rock airport - those magnificent burningmen in their flying machines
Even more irony, what better way is there to celebrate being green, than to fly! At 100% power during take off the Yak is a quick way to release 700 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere per hour, at cruise power ya only release 280 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere per hour (FYI 1 gal of gas burned will produce about 20 lbs of CO2).

Other than flying, the other thing I like about Black Rock City is its a venue where I can think about the big picture. I really hope I'm wrong about my analysis, but I see many alarming trends that all are interrelated and could mean we as a species have reached or are very near the apogee of human achievement, on a global scale.

The first alarming trend is most people in the default world (or at Black Rock City for that matter) don't understand that eventually there is going to be a CRUDE AWAKENING. Basically this means the world is running out of easy to extract oil while at the same time there is an increasing global demand. Put another way, the problem is given a finite amount of oil, civilization is extracting this resource at an unsustainable rate (FYI it takes about 98 tons of ancient biological material to eventually produce 1 gal of gas). For the past 100 years the USA was pretty much the biggest users of oil to build up the industrial base and hence their economy, now china and india with a population of 2 billion people are trying to emulate the economy of the USA which has a population of only 300 million people.

To picture why peak oil is a problem, think about an airplane with a broken gas gauge; everything will run fine and you can cruise comfortably along, up until the point you suddenly run out of gas and after that the plane becomes an inefficient glider. If it were up to me, I'd lower the national speed limit to 55 MPH to try and stretch limited oil supplies and set higher CAFE standards, but this will not happen because it seems 99.9 percent of all politicians don't have balls, brains or integrity.

crude awakening 2007
CRUDE AWAKENING powered by 2,000 gallons of propane and 900 gallons of jet fuel, the mushroom cloud thundered across Nevada's Black Rock Desert, incinerating a 99-foot-tall wooden oil derrick and deluging thousands of art- and party-loving spectators with a 2.4-gigawatt blast of heat and light.

The second alarming trend is the mass market consumption based economy of the USA isn't sustainable! Because the USA was born in isolation and had the luck to have lots of natural resources in addition to a legal system with out major corruption, the economy of the USA became dominant in todays world. Since the USA is a global economic super power, undocumented economic refugees try to get into the USA and other hot economies because they see opportunity and are driven away from their native lands because places they come from are fucked. This end result of this all this economic migration is social conflict. BTW if minute men think there are too many damn under educated mexicans now, wait a few years cause the trend of economic refugees will only accelerate globally.

The third alarming trend is climate change is a reality too many people underestimate! Few people know about a related phenomena of global dimming which is caused by pollution and basically is masking some of the more harmful effects of global warming. Back in 1989 when I was going to school at UCSD and had the fortunate opportunity to have Roger Revelle as a prof, at the time climate change was an interesting topic. But over the years I seen too much evidence to ignore the problem that we humans are destroying our only home (the planet earth).

Earth will survive climate change, but the economy will not. By this I mean climate change will change weather patterns, for example in California and the rest of the western states will get less rain, hence farming will be more difficult, and thus the crops produced will cost more! Higher costs for food production and infrastructure not designed for long term drought, will destroy the American economy if business continues as usual. The key to helping the US and global economy to survive, is to accept the fact that the climate is changing, then adapting infrastructure that makes more efficient use of natural resources.

The fourth alarming trend is US population is aging pretty quickly, those darn baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 will need lots of medical care and the current safety net isn't there to care for or pay for this population. The same shit will occur in China and to some extent in india too because of stuff like instituting one child policy back in the '80's. Basically their leaders are doing the same thing our policy leaders are doing - ignoring the problem because the shit isn't going to hit the fan on their watch and they don't have the balls or brains to look at the big picture.

The fifth alarming trend is too many people are too preoccupied with antics of celebrities (like Paris Hilton or Britney Spears)... And too many entrenched political views refuse to use scientific and economic knowledge, because using these rigorous methods of analysis leads to conclusions that directly contradict preordained world views.

The common thread to all these trends is a demand imbalance of limited global resources like: money, basic commodities like oil and water, people with scientific knowledge and people with common sense! To understanding why Homo sapiens should care about the environment, consider the Fermentation process model. Basically to make beer (which is a Fermentation process) ya start off with a closed system where ya have lots of fuel (sugars) that are consumed by biological organisms (yeast). As time goes by the population of biological organisms grows rapidly because they eat the fuel in the closed system. In turn the shit the yeast makes as a result of consuming sugar, is alcohol and CO2 (this eventually kills the yeast as concentration levels go up in the closed system). The human race like the yeast in the Fermentation process, live in a closed system.

In the past couple hundred years, since the start of the industrial revolution the human race has exploited the earth resources and so far some lucky people, like everyone pretty much at Burning Man are the global winner's (by that I mean relatively speaking every one attending burning man lives a very comfortable life when compared to the rest of the 6.6 billion people on the planet earth). In the not too distance future (say 40 years hence) I hope events like Burning Man still occur, because life experiences there are 99% or better than what most people who have lived or are living on this planet will ever achieve. If I am right in my basic bleak assessment of the current state of the global environment, then collectively we must acknowledge the harsh reality and face the many problems head if we want Homo sapiens to live on. Until we ALL accept the fact we have a problem and collectively agree on the hard scientific data, we humans are in effect killing ourselves.

I don't want to leave this years burn blog on that unsettling note, so for next year's burn I'm looking to buy a 4 seat bush plane that I saw in New Mexico. Figure I'll be able to use it in the default world as a tool to document the environment from a birds eye view and educate people about the environment. Besides that role it would be the perfect airplane to bring out to the playa so I can share the heavenly experience of slipping the surly bonds of earth, which is part of American dream I've been lucky enough to make a reality...