Rocking Emissions

Is the rock-concert lighter salute bad for the environment?

by David Toase


First, for the uninitiated, an explanation of the lighter salute: You´re at a concert. The music slows, the first guitar wails of a power ballad begin, and hundreds of disposable lighters illuminate the audience like so many sequins on a vest. Three or four (or 10, if it´s a particularly long solo) minutes later, the song ends, and you pocket the Bic and get back to headbanging.

But fear not, â€Free Bird†devotees. Lighting up en masse isn´t all that bad for the environment. The butane in disposable lighters is a compound made up of carbon and hydrogen; as it burns, these elements combine with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor. A typical lighter releases about 237 milligrams of carbon dioxide per minute. If 1,000 Night Ranger fans burned their lighters during the
entirety of â€Sister Christian,†they would collectively release about 1.2 kilograms of CO2. Compare that with the 12,200 kilograms a typical power plant produces in a minute. In fact, if you were to give a one-minute salute with each of the 1.46 billion lighters that Bic sells annually, the amount of CO2 you´d create would equal only 28 minutes of said power plant´s emissions. So salute those ballads fearlessly, and rock on.-Darrin Burgess