Climate activists temporarily blocked the main road to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada on Sunday, Aug. 27.
Both lanes of the roadway, a two-lane rural highway, were blocked by protesters who used a 28-foot trailer that caused bumper-to-bumper traffic for over an hour. Protesters went back and forth with festival attendees and Nevada rangers.
According to The Guardian, protesters demanded that Burning Man ban private jets and single-use plastics along with unlimited generator and propane use.
Each year the Burning Man festival is held in Black Rock City, a temporary community created by festival attendees. The grounds hold around 70,000 people each year from all over the world. The festival has hippy roots which originated as an underground gathering in 1986 in San Francisco, California.
Aside from the use and experimentation of psychedelics and awesome Instagram photo scenery, the appeal of the festival is that attendees build and transform the 4,000-acre, dried-up lake bed into the festival themselves. They bring their food, water, and entertainment in the midst of the scheduled performers.
Over the years it has slowly shifted into a more luxurious experience with Silicon Valley’s technocrats, celebrities and influencers attending in expensive RV’s and private jets.
Festival goers pride themselves on self-reliance. The usual worry for most people who attend is the fine dust that is swept up from the desert ground. This year, people were faced with two to three months worth of rain in a matter of hours on Friday, Sept. 1. according to ABC News.
The area usually gets around 0.2 inches of rain or less in September, and only about 5 to 6 inches per year. The heavy rains caused road closures in and out of the festival site. Event organizer’s said they would announce on Monday whether it was safe to reopen roads.
“Most people who come in here have come multiple years and are prepared for the unexpected,” Gillian Morris, a Burning Man attendee, told The Guardian. Morris has been to the festival six times and said this was the first time they experienced rain at the event.
This time of year is usually the driest in the area, and it does not take much rainfall to make the desert a muddy trap. Once the torrential rain passed, the desert experienced cool temperatures and cloudy skies which prolonged the drying process.
Activists took their personal vehicles to the protest and the driver of the trailer pulled up further to block both lanes of the highway.
Festival attendees on their way to the grounds were under the impression that there had been an accident of some kind. As they emerged from their own vehicles to check to see if anyone was injured, they were met with protesters. Many became aggravated with the inconvenience and made their way back to their vehicles, while others shared some choice words.
“Burning Man attracts the elite of the elites to party and pretend they’re in a classless, moneyless society,” said Tommy Diacono, co-founder of Rave Revolution. “But more private jets than ever are flying to the Burn. We’re burning propane for fun. The air-conditioned domes are getting bigger every year,” he told The Guardian.
This weird weather phenomenon did not bother many people at the festival. Angela Peacock, a festival attendee, was in high spirits talking with Brian Entin of News Nation. She said that not many people were worried since they had a community of people there. People were helping each other with food and water and police and medics were on the grounds as well. They also had a temporary airport if a helicopter was needed in an emergency circumstance.
For some, this could have been a major climate change wake-up call, but for others, it was just another year in the Burns even after being stranded in the desert for days.
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