Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve – Swedish Style – The environmentally friendly gloves come off

Let's face it – the Swedes take climate change a lot more seriously than your average American and they are willing to make a lot of sacrifices for it. They know how much carbon is used to create their fast food hamburger at MAX. A few of my friends received Carbon Credits as their company Christmas present one year – the same carbon credit program that was raked over the coals in the American media. They pay eight dollars for one gallon of gas, yes EIGHT DOLLARS per gallon. (ETA - A little hazy in my NYE lack of sleep - I originally put down 4 dollars per gallon, that would indeed be a bargain here)

But New Year's Eve – it is an eve of debauchary – of drinking, of partying, and of throwing environmental caution to the wind. I've already blogged about Sweden's slightly different attitude towards the danger of fire – but what about fireworks?

New Year's Eve explodes with fireworks – in Sweden – it is a DIY display of extraordinary excess. It has led my Swede to shrug at many a July 4th celebration, as sub par. Last night from about 10 pm to 1 am our little neighborhood sounded like it was under attack. A wide assortment of rockets, small fireworks and other explosives peppered the sky.

I have to admit, being that close to that much gun powder, makes me a little nervous. I usually watch a few go off and then head indoors. I am much more impressed by the Japanese Lanterns that people are starting to use a little more often. I prefer my fireworks done by professionals, with firemen on hand.

(On a side note, I also surprised to learn that fireworks are a great sleeping aide for a LO who hates sleep.)

But the thing that surprises me the most about the NYE explosive madness of Sweden is just how bad it is for the environment. Maybe it's because Alfred Nobel invented dynamite? Or maybe because just like how calories don't count on Christmas Eve, carbon doesn't count on New Years? One 'green' article here suggests that the amount of fireworks set off on July 4th in the US is equal to the emission of 12,000 cars annually. While the Swedes probably set off fewer fireworks nationally than the US each year, even if it's only 2,000 cars annually, that's a lot of cars for one night of celebration.

So why all the hush hush about the fireworks?

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