Climate activists hit a major roadblock in a scene unfolding on a major Nevada road this weekend — not from the government, but from irate citizens and tribal rangers. The group Seven Circles aimed to protest capitalism and call out Burning Man’s “insufficient” climate stance. But when they blocked traffic to the festival, causing miles-long delays, they soon discovered that not everyone shares their anti-capitalist agenda.
The protesters, armed with banners proclaiming “Abolish Capitalism” and “General Strike for Climate,” insisted that Burning Man should go beyond its aim of becoming carbon-negative by 2030. “We do not have a climate problem, the climate is behaving exactly in line with the laws of physics,” Thomas Diocano, co-founder of Rave Revolution, stated. “We have an economic system problem, and that economic system is capitalism.”
Their demands went further, insisting Burning Man leadership “advocate for system change on both political and economic levels” and ban amenities like private jets and single-use plastics. What’s ironic here is the self-defeating nature of their protest. By blocking the road and causing a traffic jam, they undoubtedly increased carbon emissions, defeating the purpose they claim to support.
But it was ordinary Americans who first decided they’d had enough. Stuck in a miles-long jam, some festival-goers took matters into their own hands. A man sporting a red, white, and blue cowboy hat voiced what many were thinking: “You’re on public property. We’ve got to get through.” Despite attempts from protesters to justify their actions through claims of civil disobedience, these everyday heroes started dismantling the blockade themselves.
NEW: Nevada tribal rangers ram through a group of climate protesters with a truck, drag them off the road, and then arrest them all after the group created miles of traffic on a busy single lane road.
The climate protesters were attempting to shut down the Burning… pic.twitter.com/6ZSYKYwYaT
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) August 28, 2023
Then came the real reckoning. Tribal Rangers arrived on the scene and wasted no time. One of their SUVs rammed through the blockade, followed by officers taking down protesters at gunpoint. “You better move,” they warned. They announced that the activists were trespassing on tribal land. There were no second chances; the protesters were arrested on the spot.
🚨#BREAKING: Nevada Rangers has rammed their truck through climate protesters as they attempted to shut down the Burning Man Arts and Music Festival
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) August 28, 2023
If Seven Circles thought they would win hearts and minds with this stunt, they were sadly mistaken. Video footage of the incident, which can be seen on X, formerly known as Twitter, has many commenters questioning the activists’ logic. The term “counterproductive” comes to mind. Activism is one thing, but it might be time to rethink your strategy when it disrupts ordinary people’s lives and lands you in handcuffs for trespassing.
Moreover, this incident raises a broader question: At what point does the advocacy for climate change cross the line into an anti-capitalist agenda that turns away would-be allies? By conflating climate action with an “abolish capitalism” mantra, these activists risk alienating Americans who might otherwise support environmental causes.
As events at Burning Man have shown, when activism turns into obstructionism, it defeats the purpose. It risks a backlash from those who might otherwise be sympathetic to the cause. While these activists might be basking in their 15 minutes of fame, one must wonder if they’ve considered the long-term damage to the cause they claim to champion.