Observations

Nick to speak out on light pollution

Sydney at night, photo by Nick Lomb

Sydney at night, photo by Nick Lomb

A major city like Sydney needs to be lit both in its CBD and in its suburbs, but how much light do we need? Does more light make it safer on the streets? Does more light make it easier to see? Do office blocks really need to blaze like Christmas trees all night, every night?

Did you know that at least one million tonnes of greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere each year because of outdoor lighting in Australia? Or that there are strong indications of serious health risks associated with night time lighting?

There are good news though for Earth-Hour on the evening of 31 March 2007 indicates the growing awareness of the need to conserve energy and to stop wasting it with unnecessary lighting.

Come and find at more on Monday 5 February at 6:30 pm at Sydney Observatory when Nick will be talking to the Sydney City Skywatchers. The title of the talk is “Tales from the dark side: fighting light pollution in Sydney”.

All welcome! Entry is a bargain $2 for a light supper and a door prize.

4 responses to “Nick to speak out on light pollution

  • Light at night is hazardous and has been compared to asbestos and DDT with respect to its effects on the environment. These are now well established in the public domain, and include detrimental effects on human health. A universal culture change is needed regarding our attitudes to exterior lighting. Similar paradigm shifts have occurred before over such issues as littering, drink-driving, and blood sports, yet eventually they have become accepted. The same needs to happen with exterior lighting. Yes, in certain situations it is beneficial and unavoidable, but it should be used sparingly, on a needs must basis, where needed, when needed, and in the correct amounts. What is also needed is zoning, with neighbourhoods divided into urban, suburban (residential) and rural. All night lighting in city centres is OK provided it is 45 degree full cut-off. In residential areas it should be subject to an 11p.m. till dawn curfew in order to allow the environment to recover. It is not acceptable at all in rural areas. All commercial and residential security lighting should be motion operated, hooded and aimed downwards. With new LED technology, even street lighting can be motion operated so the lights don’t remain on all the time. They just remain on sufficiently long for the person to reach the next light. Motion operated bollard lighting may be more appropriate in residential areas as it is less intrusive. Commercial premises not functional at night should have all their lighting switched off. Once these standards and regulations have been implemented, light pollution should be less of a problem and the environment should benefit substantially.

  • Nick,
    The fact that I am only the second comment for your web log (BLOG) illustrates how many care about light at night, LAN.
    If you go to my web site, you and any others, can read of the “hidden” harm done by light pollution, LP, to our environment, to our social ills and to our health.
    Sadly, by the time people realise, it will be JTL – Just Too Late. And I do NOT mean for just astronomy and astronomers, or what the media trivialise as “star gazers”! Cheap shot descriptions like that make serious science sound as inconsequential as train spotting?
    Graham Cliff.

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