Tomorrow is the wonderful Midsummer’s Eve here in Finland. The Midsummer inspired me to write a special Midsummer Edition for this week!
I’ll call this issue Midsummer Madness because it’s full of fire, flames, and burning. On the other hand, these topics are central to our warming climate. We burn organic matter (=fossil fuels) in many forms still today and release carbon dioxide as a result of this burning into the atmosphere.
Before discovering burning reactions, let’s first explore the Midsummer and the summer solstice.
Midsummer and the summer solstice
Midsummer is celebrated near the summer solstice. The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and takes place in the Northern hemisphere in late June.
To honor the Midsummer, let’s explore burning wood, the fuel for bonfires. In a bonfire, wood acts as the fuel for the chemical reaction.
If we represent wood (in a highly simplified way) as sugar (C6H12O6), the burning reaction will produce carbon dioxide and water.
If there is not enough oxygen available, the burning reaction will be incomplete. As a result, carbon monoxide (CO) gets formed instead of carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is deadly to humans when inhaled. That’s why you should keep the chimney damper open long enough after having a fire in your fireplace.
Burning gasoline and derivatives of fossil fuels comes unfortunately with harmful consequences for our climate and humankind. As we’ve seen, when organic compounds burn, they release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to produce energy in a more sustainable way like solar. I’m also eagerly waiting for those large scale fusion reactors!
I hope you enjoyed this special Midsummer Madness edition!
Warm greetings from Yyteri, the Hawaii of Finland, where I’ll spend the rest of the week windsurfing and celebrating Midsummer. Happy Midsummer to you!