Another year, another NYE, thousands of fireworks around the world and with that the resurfaced discussion on a ban on fireworks. Year after year, hundred of people get hurt or even killed by fireworks. We have had it all. Fireworks have set off wildfires in dry regions (i.e. the West Coast of the United States). In Germany this year, some drunk hooligans decided to attack the police and the fire brigade with fireworks and destroy people’s cars. Multiple people lost limbs or ended up in the hospital. Each year the same discussion comes up. “Why do we need fireworks and should they be banned?” It’s not even the fact that they are dangerous and a high risk for people. We have had 3 years of COVID and have seen how overworked and underprepared the healthcare systems around the world are; since health care professionals have advocated for a firework-free New Years, we should consider our choices even more. Moreover, fireworks don’t just hurt people and cause unnecessary harm, they are so bad for the environment, animals, and people alike.
It might look beautiful, but the colors are metallic compounds that are unhealthy for both humans and animals. Not just are the colorful fireworks a health hazard, the reactions that occur cause the release of different gases, all of which are major greenhouse gases. Many fireworks contain oxidizers (perchlorates) that can contaminate water. That does not just affect our rivers and lakes, but also our drinking water. While newer fireworks are trying to replace these chemicals, the smoke and particulate matter that are released affect our air quality. Now think about all the toxic metals you might be inhaling when celebrating with fireworks and what that can do to your health.
Noise disturbance and destruction of wildlife
Imagine minding your business and suddenly you hear a bunch of extremely loud bangs around you that do not stop for 30 minutes. That would stress me out completely. That is what many animals are experiencing during fireworks. Wild animals as well as pets have been shown to experience extreme stress and trauma because of firework explosions and loud noises. We are actively harming animals just because we are so vehement about using fireworks for celebrations. Animals have been spotted at unusual locations or have even left their nests and babies behind because the loud noises have disturbed them so much that they cannot follow their usual patterns. Are fireworks really that special that they can justify unnecessary harm and even death to animals? Moreover, entire forests have burned down because of fireworks gone wrong. That further impacts our wildlife’s natural habitat while also destroying important resources.
Efforts to reduce the impact
Some cities have gone on to implement a ban on fireworks while scientists are trying to create more environmentally-friendly alternatives with less waste and toxins as well as reduced noise. The question is whether that is enough. This NYE saw record temperatures in some regions. If climate change causes warmer temperatures, is it really that smart to still use fireworks despite the increased risk of fires?
I never really understand how someone could think letting drunk people handle explosives and fire would be a smart idea. They might look pretty, but should one night of colorful explosions in the sky really be more important than protecting our environment, the animals and ourselves? Aren’t there other fun ways to celebrate the New Year? I get that it might be nostalgic and pretty, but is it really worth it? I doubt it.
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