Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sky lantern aftermath

They are beautiful when all lit up and floating off - sky lanterns that is. However, earlier in the month we saw spent lanterns rather than their fairy tale flight.

The classic view of sky lanterns [photo: Wikipedia commons]
Out on the edge of our land Niall spotted something blob-like closely resembling a large plastic carrier bag. It moved sluggishly in the light breeze. Now even wayside litter in, and around, Charnizay is pretty rare, so to spot something like this was a tad odd. Closer inspection revealed that it was a burnt-out sky lantern. It was a lot larger than either of us imagined. More like a mini hot-air balloon.
Really a mini-hot air balloon: you can see the open flame [photo: Wikipedia commons]
It didn't take long to put two and two together. The previous night party music - a live band - had drifted up from the plan d'eau alongside the Aigronne until about 4:30 am. The commune uses the 'chapiteau' [large marquee] there for the 'quatorze Juillet' [Bastille day] celebrations and also rents it out for parties and functions. Obviously there'd been a bash.

The party goers must have set off the sky laterns as part of the festivities and although they must have looked lovely rising in the air, we doubt anyone gave much thought to what happens when they finish burning and where they land.
Just some of our collection of spent lanterns
By the time they'd cleared the valley and drifted towards us the little sponges drenched with fuel had run out. We found 7 on, or close to, our land and disposed of them. We didn't think either of the two farmers whose fields border us would want them left snagged in their crops any more than we wanted them billowing over our grass.
One of the spent sky lanterns, blackened burnt-out sponge at centre
Happily, none of them caused any damage that we could see. However, since then we've had quite a dry spell and the thought of what these lanterns could do to crops and woodland is quite unsettling. British readers may recall an enormous fire at a re-cycling center [1 July] in the UK which was started by a sky lantern falling on re-cycled plastic bales. The blaze also re-ignited the discussion on whether or not these lanterns should be allowed in the UK; they currently are.

There is a growing concern about their potential to cause crop or building fires and harm animals that may eat/get caught up in the wire frame remains. Several countries in South America have banned them. In Brazil launching sky lanterns is an environmental crime. They are illegal in most parts of Germany and in Australia retail sale has been banned since 2011 - though not their possession or use. As far as we have been able to find out there are no restrictions on their use here in France.

17 comments:

GaynorB said...

I agree. The beautiful but short-lived thrill of seeing the lantern in the sky is nothing in comparison to the potential harm they can do.

We've never released any, although will own up to having enjoyed those released by others.

They are such a craze now and available all year round. We first saw them at the millennium celebrations in Switzerland.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - they are beautiful to see, but let's hope the craze dies down quickly.

the fly in the web said...

I have been using O2 in the UK...which I suspect is British Telecom hiding under another name.
Each time I try to access your blog they ask me if I am over eighteen and demand payment of one pound to register my response.

If this is control of porn sites I think someone has blundered...

Craig said...

Beautiful but extremely dangerous. I'd never consider paricipating in a lighting party.

Tim said...

Fly - are you sure that's O2, or have you got a Trojan? P.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - How bizarre and expensive!

Hope all is proceeding smoothly in the UK.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Craig - exactly!

Perpetua said...

I couldn't agree more. The fleeting beauty isn't worth the environmental damage. It used to be helium balloons, now it's sky lanterns. What will the next craze be, I wonder?

MorningAJ said...

Just recently one of those things floated onto the roof of a factory in Smethwick and started a fire that lasted three days. It took 200 firefighters to bring it under control, 11 of whom were injured. The damage ran to millions - not to mention the chaos in the town for weeks afterwards while they cleared up the mess.

But our wonderful government reckons we don't need a ban because it doesn't happen very often.

http://news.sky.com/story/1110687/smethwick-fire-cctv-of-lantern-at-factory

ladybird said...

The new craze is an Asian (Thailand or China) import, I believe. As far as I know, they have been banned in Belgium too after some serious incidents. But then there are always people who - "die de wet aan hun laars lappen" - don't respect the law. Glad your 'lantern' happening didn't cause any damage, except for some extra garbage... Martine

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - I'd forgotten about the helium baloons- not great either, probably more a danger to light aircraft.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@AJ - the fire we referred to was the same one. Didn't know it was in a place called Smethwick -- just knew it was in the Midlands somewhere.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - So are we!

Eric one of the farmers already had to plough-in his 1st crop earlier this year [think it was winter barley] because of the terrible spring weather.

I'd hate to think of his reaction if his re-sown crop - millet - had been damaged!

Jean said...

I have only seen them once, a few years ago, and my very first thought was where they would land, who clears up the rubbish and what would happen if they were still alight.
They are a completely daft idea and should be banned.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - We'd never seen them for real, only in ads and initially thought they were CG.

Agreed.

Dieter said...

They are beautiful when all lit up and floating off - sky lanterns that is. However, earlier in the month we saw spent lanterns rather than their fairy ... ifloatinglanterns.blogspot.com

Ayesha Khan said...
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