Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Light addiction.. with heavy consequences!

 
I saw a documentary about light pollution, it definitely hit home for me after my recent re-aquaintence with my fascination of stars and photographing them. When I was younger the knowledge and the tools for doing this were not available to me, now that they are it's not so easy to accomplish anymore.

Sometimes while driving around at night, I notice vast empty lots and buildings with nobody in them lit up bright as day. This is nonsensical and wasteful on many levels. Billions of dollars worth of energy is spent each year on lighting that is not needed, both in the private sector as well as the public sector.

It seems to me humanity has a neurotic obsession with light that borders on addiction, take my apartment lot as one example, the lights in the parking areas stay on 24 hours a day regardless of how dark or bright it is outside.
 
I discovered just how profound the pollution problem is while doing further reading on the subject of astrophotography. In my state there are very few places open to the public that are are certified clear dark skies, a few public places in very remote corners of the state but none beyond that.
  
The excessive and wasteful use of lighting at night is the primary cause of us not having that awe inspiring view that only astronomers can see from observatories that are several miles up on a mountain far from view city centers and crowded streets.

This kind of view is something some of us were fortunate to have the chance to enjoy while camping as kids.

People need to get re-acquainted with this thing called the night sky, something you can't really observe at all near a populated area due to the light pollution, never mind the other pollution factors that also obscure the night sky.
Unless we rethink how we use light in our homes and businesses, that sky will disappear entirely one day.
The most advanced means of observing the interactions in deep space currently is left in the hands of satellites and radio telescopes that monitor on wavelengths beyond the spectrum our own eyes can see, peering thousands of light years into space.
 
The further out into space you go, a sort of time shift occurs because all the light and matter in the universe at the moment of the big bang still exists. Humanity still has chances to observe and discover this because that light is still traveling towards our planet to this very day.

I don't know about the rest of humanity but I don't want to see this planet come to a point where the only way left to us to observe space in great detail is to go into space because our skies are too polluted to see through the upper atmosphere.


Architects are great at designing homes but hardly any thought goes into the lighting, how far that light travels, what directions it travels in and why that matters.
So our homes and businesses have lots of high powered light emitting sources all over the place casting a wide foot print all over the land 24 hours a day with little regard for the unintended consequences they create.
Lighting has a psychological as well as physiological impact on not only people but wildlife as well.


For more on this as well as articles on related subjects check out these links:

    Bio-science article on the impact of artificial light on our planet-
     http://www.actionbioscience.org/environment/longcore_rich.html

    Impact of light pollution on Astronomy-
     http://physics.fau.edu/observatory/lightpol-astro.html
     http://www.archdaily.com/418640/light-matters-recovering-the-dark-sky/