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Making War On Light Pollution 437

Hugh Pickens writes "Almost thirty years ago I worked in the Middle East helping install a nationwide communications system and had the opportunity to be part of a team doing microwave link tests across Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter. Something I've never forgotten were the astonishing nights I spent in the desert hundreds of miles from the nearest city where the absence of light made looking at the sky on a moonless night feel like you were floating in the middle of the galaxy. In Galileo's time, nighttime skies all over the world would have merited the darkest Bortle ranking, Class 1. Today, the sky above New York City is Class 9 and American suburban skies are typically Class 5, 6, or 7. The very darkest places in the continental United States today are almost never darker than Class 2, and are increasingly threatened. Read a story from the New Yorker on what we have lost to light pollution and how some cities are adopting outdoor lighting standards to save the darkness."
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Making War On Light Pollution

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  • Bah (Score:5, Funny)

    by EvanED ( 569694 ) <evaned@gmail. c o m> on Saturday September 08, 2007 @06:21PM (#20523707)
    Someone's firing too much magic missile.
  • by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @06:25PM (#20523733) Journal
    We should be making love on light pollution, not war!
  • morals. (Score:4, Funny)

    by nawcom ( 941663 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @06:27PM (#20523745) Homepage
    A couple that was married for 20 years always made love with the lights off.

    Well, after 20 years, the wife felt this was ridiculous. She figured she would break him out of this crazy habit.

    So one night, while they were in the middle of a wild, screaming, romantic session, she turned the lights on.

    She looked down... and saw that her husband was holding a battery-operated pleasure device -- a vibrator -- softer and larger than a real penis.

    She went completely ballistic. "You impotent bastard," she screamed at him, "how could you be lying to me all of these years? You better explain yourself!"

    The husband looks her straight in the eyes and says calmly:

    "I'll explain the toy... if you explain the kids."

    Moral of the story? everyone is happy when you turn the lights off at night.
  • Re:morals. (Score:3, Funny)

    by MarkRose ( 820682 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @06:46PM (#20523869) Homepage
    Thank you for that illuminating story. Yet another example that people take serious discussion on pollution far too lightly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2007 @06:49PM (#20523893)
    They will assume you are a black market light dealer and seize all your cash and/or spare bulbs.
  • by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @07:02PM (#20523973)
    All we need to do is install more power stations with Windows and the viruses will do the rest: []

    No power, no light pollution
  • by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @07:33PM (#20524189)
    if they handed out night vision goggles to everyone, nobody would need any lights on to walk around and drive and stuff. That's the real solution. Then it'd be real dark [i]every[/i] day
  • Re:morals. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2007 @08:04PM (#20524395)

    You mean your penis doesn't vibrate?

  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @08:11PM (#20524437)
    I would out in the middle of the australia desert - i kow what a black sky is. but suggesting we need cities without night lighting is retarded. haven't you seen the simpsons episode?
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @08:53PM (#20524737) Journal
    No, No, No.

    You keep the lights on to make the thieves at ease, infrared motion detectors to trigger the machine guns.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:32PM (#20524985)

    they don't experience glair (no windshield)
    Some of us wear glasses, you insensitive clod!
  • Re:San Jose (Score:3, Funny)

    by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Saturday September 08, 2007 @09:59PM (#20525153) Homepage Journal
    Coloured lights may have their uses, but they wreak havoc with your vision.

    My truck is a light jade green (Ford Puke Green). Long Beach CA has yellow sodium lights. My truck is completely invisible under those lights -- to the point that I once lost it in an otherwise-empty parking lot, and only rediscovered it by nearly walking into it. This despite that I have VERY good night vision. And as I drove down the street, I was amused by the illusion that my front hood was missing.... and was glad to be the only vehicle on the street, because in real traffic, it's a fair bet someone would have hit me simply because they couldn't see me in those yellow lights.

  • by steegness ( 1090565 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:22PM (#20525263) Homepage

    Seeing the unadultered night sky has been a long time dream of mine. Is there any easy way (other than word-of-mouth knowledge) to find dark places in the US (or elsewhere) where one can go skygazing?
    No. You'd stumble, fall, and die trying to get there, because it's dark.
  • by Gary W. Longsine ( 124661 ) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @10:38PM (#20525381) Homepage Journal
    Look, dude, it's like this. Chicks dig stars. Countless generations of guys got laid by showing chicks stars. What are you gonna do, now that you can't even see the stars? This is all about trying to help guys like you score. Get with the program. Shield your bloody lights.
  • Re:San Jose (Score:3, Funny)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday September 09, 2007 @12:28AM (#20525949) Journal
    "My truck is completely invisible under those lights"

    Driver: I was turning right officer when I spotted this guy was hovering 4' above the ground, he was travelling along the road with a lunchbox and newspaper like he was driving an invisible truck or thing I knew I hit the tree.

    Officer: We better get you checked out for concussion.
  • by uncqual ( 836337 ) on Sunday September 09, 2007 @01:12AM (#20526155)
    However, there are times when the sunlight reflected off the moon is insufficient to provide meaningful illumination. Without street lighting in these cases, you get no advance warning of anything beyond the range of your headlights -- which can increase risk over a situation where there are some fixed sources of artificial light to provide some visibility beyond your headlights.

    In the area I live, there are some stretches of freeway where there are no street lights and virtually no human presence (business or residential) near the freeway to cast artificial light on the freeway. When deer are (for reasons only a deer would understand - and I'm not sure even they do) standing in the middle of the freeway at 3AM just because a car hasn't driven by for five minutes, it's quite a bit more exciting on the "moonless" nights because by the time your headlights pick them up, you need to react very quickly to avoid hitting them (especially when, for reasons known only to themselves, they are distributed across all three or four lanes). Obviously one needs to drive at speeds within the limits of one's headlights, but a minor distraction or moment of inattention becomes substantially riskier if you have nearly zero time to react due to a lack of lighting beyond your headlights.

    Not to say that there should be street lights on these stretches of road (it would be absurdly wasteful actually), but it seems likely it would be "safer" in at least some situations (sorry, but I'm skeptical that limited properly designed street street lighting on these stretches would reduce safety in any way that would offset the safety benefits).
  • by Criterion ( 51515 ) on Sunday September 09, 2007 @02:03AM (#20526385)
    Especially since as soon as the criminal turns on his flashlight his night vision will go poof.. allowing you to sneak up to him without him seeing you.. with that big pipewrench in your hand.. oooh.. that sounds almost like how a criminal would sneak up in the shadows of the very lights meant to keep you safe.. er.. make you feel safe. Hmm... wait... there is a point in there. Go find it. ;)
  • by dragonturtle69 ( 1002892 ) on Sunday September 09, 2007 @02:25AM (#20526469)

    Light and Dark, Good and Evil. Our streetlights, aside from the logical concept of helping with traffic control, are there to help keep away our monsters. They are our adult nightlights.

    How many children need a nightlight to sleep tight? How many become adults who still need a light at night? Maybe not in their bedroom, but somewhere, just in case.

    Until people learn to control their monsters, there will always be bright lights at night, and the natural lights that should fill us with amazement will be hidden.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Sunday September 09, 2007 @08:17AM (#20527739)
    Streetlights protect you from the dogshit that's everywhere these days.
  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) on Sunday September 09, 2007 @11:23AM (#20528597) Homepage
    What about if the entire city's lights light up in a marquee display that can be seen from the moon reading "Mugging victim needs assistance here!" ? Brownie points there? No? Dang!

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama