As the autumn progresses, city and state governments are still struggling with the problems of open conflagrations I posted about last January.
Under urging by the DEC, New York State is now considering a statewide ban on the open burning of trash and rubbish, which is currently forbidden only in municipalities with over 20k inhabitants. Brush burning in rural communities has long been common, but modern trash burning can cause emissions of heavy metals, benzene, formaldehyde, particulate matter and other toxins.
Across the border, in Calgary, Alberta—where one third of the homes have firepits—the city council is considering licensing them: where they can be located and when they can be used. According to one of the legislators: “We’re a city of a million people. We have changed. There are certain things we just can’t do anymore. Firepits may very well be one of those things.” (Calgary Herald, 10/8)
The most contentious bonfire bans have to be those under consideration in Britain, where municipalities are beginning to address the environmental and safety problems caused by all the autumn bonfires that reach their climax in November on Guy Fawkes night. Though the ripples are few and far between, any challenges to this tradition, hallowed for centuries, are significant.
Times have changed—and if change means regulating people’s desire to set piles of debris on fire at will, I’m OK with it.