While the World prepares for Greta Thunberg’s arrival in North Cove Marina Manhattan, NYC on Tuesday afternoon, quite another reception is being planned by a once-vibrant, but now middle-aged community of artists and parents who seem – for all intents and purposes – ‘lost’ in the desert of Black Rock. There is no clear ‘escape’ for them, although among them I count scores of friends. After all, I spent a good part of my middle-age in that same desert. This is not a critique of Burning Man. It’s an observation.
Yesterday, 25AUG19, The Opening Day of Burning Man, a collision on the road has caused the death of one participant already. R.I.P.
‘Metamorphoses’ is the Art Theme in 2019 of Burning Man. A quote is from the First Law of Thermodynamics indicates they were clearly not my students. They should know the Second Law by heart, as well. That is the one law on Entropy.
“The Entropy of a system equals the log of the total possible states in the system, times a constant (Boltzmann’s constant).”
The entropy of our home planet, Earth, is a measure of the amount of energy on it which is unavailable to do work. All it can do is heat us up. No, it cannot cool us down. That takes work.
These two “Laws of Thermodynamics” go togethers. They cannot be “Enjoyed” separately. There are no free lunches, children.
What happens if we do not take Action on the Climate and continue to Burn Our Forests; Our Man?
At UCF, I was assigned a course, “Chemistry For Engineers,” to lecture. One thing I know everyone of my students had an appreciation for was the power of waste energy through entropy.
“How is that possible?” I mean it’s e-n-e-r-g-y, as The Art Theme of Burning Man enshrines.
Think of Jet Fuel B, the fuel that makes a jetliner take-off and stay at elevation. There is a temperature at which it is too volatile to be injected orderly, and pre-ignites almost spontaneously in the turbine. Sorta like that. There is no order to the energy, and cannot do work in an orderly fashion.
So profound is this concept, it is on the headstone of Boltzmann’s own grave in Vienna.
One outcome from this waste energy is Iceland, which is losing its famed geothermal heat sources to aluminum production and tourism. Eastern Iceland is cold, geothermally. I learned this last year on a personal visit. All things become one giant heat-bath. That is, all things are at the same temperature. Sure there is energy, but it is disorganized and every other form of energy you find, has the same temperature or same heat content. What awaits is a horrid end.
Let us remember the fallen at Burning Man this year, but let us make sure that for future generations, they have not died in vain.
That we will and can reverse course in the next 11 years with real art and creativity that will save our species with equity.