Interesting comment. Studies by the dark sky advocates show that more light is not necessarily better at deterring crime. The prevailing philosophy of ‘more is better ‘ results in glaringly bright lights that provide dark spots and hinder, rather than help visibility.
It used to be argued that using less light more strategically was an overall cost savings, but as LED lighting becomes wide-spread, and bright lights are available at much lower power, the problem will worsen. People and businesses will replace their expensive halogen based lighting with cheaper, more efficient, but no less invasive LED lights and think they are ‘fixing’ the problem.
Interesting article, I’m surprised there was no mention of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. They had an astronomer on staff back in 2001 and are known for their dark skies
Very nice article, Kim! I do love to see the Milky Way, and the health effects on wildlife were interesting new wrinkles on this topic.
My residence’s sky, being in a highly light-polluted section of the Eastern seaboard, on rare occasions (say, twice yearly or so) inexplicably darkens to nearly a countryside shade. Are businesses shutting down? Did an agreement pass for light pollution to be dampened down on several nights? If so, I’m unaware and if it exists there seems no mention in the local press.
And why should there not be such an agreement? Who can prove crime must increase in the absence of bright glare? I would guess that businessmen believe lights only help criminals better to see whatever their goal is. Not true. Somewhere, a study must exist detailing this exact question.
On those nights, of course I happily grab a giant binocular and settle in for the sort of magical night astronomy will provide. More than worth the wait, since a good sky takes about a 100-mile round trip!
Various studies do exist regarding the fallacy that light deters crime. One in Chicago determined that lit alleyways actually increase crime as it is easier to navigate and look into peoples cars. Watch my TEDx talk “Embracing Darkness” that reveals the consequences of making light going back to the 18th century and our superstitious fear of the dark
One of the greatest modern environmental disasters has been perpetrated upon an unaware public – all in the name of “going green” with more “energy efficient” bluish white LED streetlighting that is replacing the amber hued high-pressure sodium streetlights all over the USA. Because the LEDs cost less to oprate, city engineers figure, “Since they’re cheaper to operate, we can increase brightness and still save money!” What that means for cities like Seattle is that urban commercial thoroughfares, as well as sleepy residential neighborhood streets, are now brightly lit up like soccer stadiums, used car lots, and prison yards.
The unfocused glare from the LEDs is blinding to drivers. Worse, the “light bounce” off damp pavements has all but completely blocked out the night sky to where stars are now often invisible. The detriment to the health of humans and wildlife is well-documented, but no one seems to care.
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