In a way, it is very interesting that the tradition of celebrating the new year have something in common almost everywhere we go. Of course, I am talking about the beautiful, bright, and loud exploding things we can come across in the night sky around that time – the fireworks. It is interesting to know, that they are believed to be invented in China in the 7th century. However, they didn’t come in so many colors and shapes as today. They were also used for different purposes (like scaring away the evil spirits), but hey, we needed to start somewhere, right? In today’s time, tons of these thingies are sold in different shapes, and colors and we just can’t seem to get enough of them.
The making of the fireworks
Different kinds of fireworks exist (firecrackers, sparklers, and aerial fireworks), but mostly they are designed in the same way. It is true for all of them, that what they are designed to do, looks like pure magic. In a way it actually is – it’s a scientific magic. The wizards behind this, are some clever people, that know how to place specific components (here we are talking about different kinds of metals and some kind of a gunpowder) in a container. While they are preparing this, they also pull some tricks, to enable the whole thing to travel to a safe distance before exploding and presenting the pre-programmed trick.
Effects on the environment
One thing you probably did think about before, is the noise pollution that comes with all this new-years eve ”drama”. But most probably, you never thought about the light and air pollution that comes with it. With the term light pollution, we are not really referring to light changing its color due to pollution. This term defines, that there is light when it should be dark (and yes, street and vehicle lights, as well as the advertisement lights also contribute to this kind of pollution). Light pollution can influence the changes of behavior of some birds, bats, insects etc. and can lead to stress on many levels.
For animals (and maybe also for some of you) this is the most mysterious part of the year. From their perspective, we just decide at some point that its time to light up the sky and make a loud noise, which creates overall chaos, stress, and disorientation. There are a lot more collisions (with cars, turbines etc.) and many baby animals are left behind because of these chaotic runs. Lets also not forget that some animals have very impressive hearing capabilities (of course not all of them hear the same sound frequencies as we do).
The last thing I would like to say some words about is the air pollution. This comes from the components, that were used in the production of the fireworks in order to perform magic. The most commonly used metals are aluminium (Al), barium (Ba), calcium (Ca), chloride (Cl), copper (Cu), lithium (Li), magnesium (Mg), nitrogen (N), strontium (Sr), sodium (Na), and titanium (Ti). These metals are usually not used as raw elements but are combined with one another or with other components. After the explosion, when they fall down to the surface of the Earth, they begin to play their roles in the environment. In general, we can say that some of these elements are known to contribute to water, soil and air contamination. Along the many ways they do it, the contribution to the acidic rain formation is probably the most problematic one.
There is an interesting adaptation we can come across when researching the air pollution. The Peppered moths were originally white, but because of the enormous amounts of burned coal during the industrial revolution, the tree trunks started to turn darker. The organisms that were darker were, therefore, harder to spot and gained the upper hand over the lighter colored ones. After the reduction of the burned coal, the tree trunks again started to become lighter in color and the white colored organisms took the upper hand again.
This is still not everything I have to say about the fireworks. When this mysterious time of the year passes there are a lot of leftovers (unused fireworks, empty containers etc.) that find their new home in nature. Have you ever thought about what happens to them? Many, at some point, cross paths with curious animals. This usually ends badly for them, since they often get entangled and are left injured (or at least slowed down) and therefore less likely to survive. We can easily prevent this from happening when we become aware of them. If you really need to light some fireworks, go ahead, just be sure that you clean everything after yourself.
However, we wish you a wonderful new years eve celebration and all the best in the upcoming year!