(this post is in support of Blog Action Day, with 15,000+ bloggers all writing about the environment. Learn more at their web site, blogactionday.org)
Where I live we pay lots of money every year so we never have to see the stars.
Our grand plan to mask the sky completely isn’t 100% complete. Looking up from my backyard I can see one or two bright stars and a planet or two through the orangish sodium vapor haze. It’s a shame, too. With that handful of celestial bodies I still remember that we are adrift in the heavens, one planet in one solar system in one galaxy among thousands. I still remember the pesky, unanswerable questions of scientists about where the universe came from, what’s out there, how old everything is. These cantankerous scientists who cause so much trouble by refusing to accept “God” as the answer to all these questions. Maybe if we paid a few more dollars, added a few more developments to the edges of the city we could finally stop this blasphemous nonsense. Nothing I see should dare to suggest to me that humans on Earth are not the center of the universe.
My town has 208,000 people. We pay about $1,185,000 a year for the streetlights. That’s $5.70 a person per year. I’d gladly spend $10 to get rid of all the rest of the stars. Maybe even $20 if we can mask the moon out, too. I hate seeing that thing, with those big acne-like dark spots on it. Ugly. At least the moon knows it’s place, orbiting Earth. The idea that Earth orbits something else is just a big joke that miscreants like Galileo infected our society with. I’m glad he was taken care of by the Inquisition.
Not only are we saving humanity from vast numbers of philosophical and scientific questions but we are improving the economy by creating jobs. Jobs running power lines, finding and mining coal and uranium, and replacing the burned-out lamps in neighborhoods such as mine. Think of the economic benefits of doing all this work. Not to mention building and running of power plants. I welcome new power plants. Not only do they supply the energy to drive the scary dark and the blasphemous heavens back but they emit gases that help warm our planet up. I hate the cold, and think everybody has the God-given right to be warm.
There have been some naysayers out there, saying “America is watching ten billion dollars in unnecessary lighting evaporate into space every year.” Google says the United States has 301,139,947 people, so that’s $33.21 a person. I’m getting a heck of a deal here where I live. Besides, who says all this light is unnecessary? With the claims that animals are negatively affected by all this light I see it as an excellent opportunity to prove that evolution exists. All these same Satan-worshipping scientists continue to test everybody’s faith by touting evolution. If animals are having a hard time with all this light they can evolve to have eyelids like us at the top of the food chain. Right? Besides, animals are icky and scary, too. A few less animals wouldn’t hurt anyone.
We’ll see who wins this one.
This was sarcasm, by the way. I hate the fact that I can’t see the sky from my urban backyard, and that I’m paying money for light that likely has more negative effects than positive ones. For the record I believe in evolution, too, and God, but that’s a whole other discussion.
Some great links about the light pollution problem are:
- 6 Reasons Why You Need To Help Me Fight Light Pollution (Starry Night Lights Blog)
- Light Pollution (Wikipedia)
- Light and Crime (Schneier on Security — it turns out that ubiquitous light doesn’t improve security)
- The Dark Side – Making War on Light Pollution (The New Yorker)
- Light Pollution – The Problem (Johns Hopkins)
- Northeast Blackout of 2003 (millions of people were able to see the sky for a night, some even noticed.)
- The Cost of Lighting the World (BBC News)
- The International Dark-Sky Association (if this is a war then these folks are the combatants.)
The other great place to find out about the effects of city-sponsored light pollution is your municipal budget. For my town the expense shows up as the electricity line item in the Traffic Engineering budget. The next time you have a chance to ask your elected officials something ask them why you’re paying so much for all that light pollution.