Sacred flaming temples, gas-guzzling RVs that converge for a week on the dry Black Rock Desert lakebed - The Exxon-Mobil National Convention, you are thinking?
Not at all. It's the Burning Man Art Festival in Nevada and it causes global warming. For 21 years this ecological disaster has been using gas-powered generators, up to 37,000 of them, so that smelly hippies can gorge themselves on wasteful fossil-fuel consumption. San Francisco scientists are unsure how much this contributes to global warming but they intend to find out.
They created Cooling Man, an online calculator that determines how many tons of greenhouse gases each of the "burners" will produce with their art projects and community camps.
Once you know how much global warming you are causing, you can either trade for or buy 'credits' to offset your consumption. That's right, so the richest, most wasteful companies can continue to wreak havoc on the environment, completely unchecked, by exploiting the "have-nots" at Burning Man.
"We think Cooling Man is pretty cool," said Marian Goodell, Burning Man's director of communications and business and overall corporate shill. Marian would think that, because clearly the wastrels who attend Burning Man have no intention of policing their own rampant consumption.
Money raised by volunteers paying for their part of the 37,000 burners? $1,000. $.03 per burner. That's it. And that money is going toward, of all things, a wind turbine for an Indian Casino in South Dakota.
Yes, they are contributing $1,000 to saving the environment by making an Indian Tribe even richer. I suppose gambling addiction and crime are okay if it makes a few attendees at Burning Man feel better about themselves.
"Maybe one day Burning Man would add a small surcharge to the ticket price, less than $1, to offset all emissions from the event," said David Shearer, an air-quality scientist with California Environmental Associates in San Francisco who helped create Cooling Man in his spare time. A ticket to Burning Man ranges from $185 to $275, becoming more expensive closer to the start of the event.
Let's hope they buy themselves out of trouble before they wreck the planet.