Rock Concert Question: Are Lighter Salutes Bad for the Environment?

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, "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 "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.