Fireworks Diminish the Real Star We Should be Celebrating: Nature.
Most of us have experienced the bursting lights and bangs of fireworks on days of celebration, or in the days leading up to and after these days in our neighbourhoods. While the moment may seem awe-inspiring for some, for many people and animals it is also a needless, disruptive environmental and traumatic health hazard.
For animals, fireworks can be particularly distressing. It has been documented that nesting birds may leave their nests, deer and other wildlife may become distressed and disoriented running into roads, and even in our homes the explosions cause domesticated animals to become fearful; some hiding, some howling.
For people, fireworks can also be distressing and triggering. Those who have experienced wars and suffer from PTSD may be triggered due to the explosions. Having loud explosions nearby may cause distress and fear for those who do not have previous exposure to the sounds of war as well. We are after all, animals with similar emotional and psychological responses to other species.
Then there is the seldom discussed environmental impact of fireworks. In a time where the climate crisis should be front of mind in all policy decisions we make politically and socially, fireworks are unjustifiable. Everything that goes up, must come down and all heavy metal salts and chemicals used to create those spectacular chemical reactions end up polluting the air, water, and soil. Greenhouse gases, aerosols, and toxic particulates literally explode into the atmosphere every time we set off fireworks. All contributing to the climate crisis, traumatizing animals, and injuring our health for a few moments of spectacle.
What can be done
In Canada, fireworks are regulated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through certification of various types: consumer, display, and special effects. While display fireworks and special effects pyrotechnics require certificates and permits, consumer fireworks are accessible to the general public.
However, municipalities further regulate the use and sale of fireworks to the public, with many cities across Canada banning their sale and use. This patchwork policy framework is very problematic as it often allows people to go to a neighbouring municipality and purchase fireworks which they bring back to their community and use where the products are banned.
If you live a municipality where fireworks sale and use is still allowed, then consider contacting your local city council to see if they would support a ban. Provincially, you can also contact your MLA or MPP to see if they are willing to support a motion in the legislature.
However, what we need is a blanket federal ban on the sale and use of fireworks which acknowledges them as an outdated form of entertainment and harmful to the health of animals, people, and the environment. Currently, there is a House of Commons e-petition available you can sign in support of federal changes to the use of fireworks.
Canada is a country with vast expanses of nature providing an endless spectacle of colour, texture, and biodiversity we should take the time to appreciate and celebrate without the disruptive violence of fireworks desperately trying, and failing, to imitate and outdo its natural expressiveness.
Deputy Leader, Animal Protection Party of Canada