Just in time for July 4, opinion piece suggests giving up fireworks, speaks of ‘the conflation of selfishness with patriotism’

Scads of people around the nation are likley to enjoy dazzling fireworks displays later this week as they celebrate Independence Day, but in an opinion piece posted by the New York Times, contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl suggested that people should give up the American tradition.

“The conflation of selfishness with patriotism is the thing I have the hardest time accepting about our political era. Maybe we have the right to eat a hamburger or drive the biggest truck on the market or fire off bottle rockets deep into the night on the Fourth of July, but it doesn’t make us good Americans to do such things. How can it possibly be ‘American’ to look at the damage that fireworks can cause — to the atmosphere, to forests, to wildlife, to our own beloved pets, to ourselves — and shrug?” Renkl wrote.

‘We can eat more vegetables and less animal protein.’

She pointed out that the lound noises from fireworks frighten animals, like pet dogs, and can cause fires.

“We have no real way of knowing how many wild animals suffer because the patterns of their lives are disrupted with no warning every year on a night in early July,” Renkl wrote. “And all that’s on top of the dangers posed by fireworks debris, which can be toxic if ingested, or the risk of setting off a wildfire in parched summertime vegetation.”

“It would be so easy to find a new way to celebrate the founding of a nation. So easy, at the very least, to limit fireworks to public celebrations meant to bring communities together. When those communities use low-noise fireworks, as well, they limit the stress on people and animals, and they mitigate some of the dangers to local wildlife,” she asserted.

Renkl’s piece also seemed to advocate for people to eat less meat and to set their thermostats to higher temperatures in the summer and lower temperatures in the winter.

“Addressing climate change and biodiversity loss on a planet with eight billion human residents won’t be simple,” she wrote. “But there are easy things we can do at no real cost to ourselves. We can eat more vegetables and less animal protein. We can cultivate native plants. We can seek out products that aren’t packaged in plastic, spend less time in cars and airplanes, raise the thermostat in the summer and lower it in the winter.”

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