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Lights out

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Light pollution as seen from space

In all the discussions I’ve read and heard about how America can reduce its voracious appetite for energy, I’ve never heard anyone utter what I think are four helpful words: Turn out the lights.

Think about those four words the next time you’re out late at night. Countless merchants leave their signs on 24 hours a day—perhaps for advertising purposes, but I can’t help but think such advertising is fruitless between, say, midnight and 6 a.m.

Sure, some lightsmust be left on through the night. Hospitals, police stations and other places of public service need to be well-lit so people can immediately find them. Bank parking lots need light for the safety of people using ATMs or making night deposits. City street lights help people feel secure. Automobile lots use bright lights to deter theft and vandalism. But for every one of those instances, there are who-knows-how-many places gobbling up electricity through needlessly lit signage.

I have an aesthetic reason for calling for less light: night sky light pollution. I wish I could wander into my backyard at night and look up into a truly dark sky, seeing the planets and constellations as our ancestors did long a go. One of my sidebar quotations on this blog is by Vincent van Gogh: “For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." I wish I had more darkness for my dreaming.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 27th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
I miss going out on the fields behind Bona's late at night to watch the sky. It's quite the place to do thinking and dreaming.

Light pollution bothers me, especially during the holiday season (though I do enjoy light displays and decorations). A friend of mine lives out in "the country." Driving around that neighborhood feels so different because of how dark it can get.
Jan. 27th, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
The south- and southwest-facing skies are pretty good behind SBU.

And what is college if not a place for dreaming?
Jan. 27th, 2013 03:16 am (UTC)
Synchronicity my friend, synchronicity.

Edited at 2013-01-27 03:16 am (UTC)
Jan. 29th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
That was one of the things that struck me immediately about Africa: it was DARK. Seriously dark. Very little extraneous light at night.

I loved it.
Jan. 29th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
There's a place about 3 hours from here in Pennsylvania: Cherry Valley. It's a park, maybe? It's one of the darkest spots in the East. It might be worth a road trip for you and the J-Man sometime—he's into astronomy, isn't he?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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