This weekend’s U.S. Presidential Weekly Address was on renewing NASA’s commitment to space exploration. All well and good, though several of its key points got me to thinking – what if the President of the United States devoted a speech of significance to the cause of reducing light pollution?
Such an event is unlikely to happen soon. Light pollution is not embedded within the public consciousness. As far as the general public is concerned today, it is a fringe matter, entrenched in the humor and “just the way it is” buckets of the mind.
“We look to the heavens with wonder and curiosity,” said President Trump. But as I wrote previously, most people and their children don’t have much to wonder and be curious about. While I will guess the view of the night sky can be impressive at Mar-a-Lago, it is far removed from the sickly orange haze within a city like Detroit.
Yet defeatism and resignation will get us nowhere. Light pollution is cumulative, and it is growing, and eventually there will be no such thing as a dark site. It’s not just an astronomy matter or a classroom lesson missed; light pollution really is pollution, effecting our health and that of all living things. The real challenge comes in how to instill the issue into the public consciousness, which is difficult since we are only beginning to easily quantify those ecological deteriorations.
“There is no challenge we cannot meet,” the President went on to say. I fully agree, but it is difficult to solve a problem when few even acknowledge its existence. Still, we must, “have the courage to look for answers in places we have never looked before. To think in new ways because we have new information.” For, “anything is possible if we have the courage and wisdom to learn.”
This blog is not about politics, but as you can see, it is difficult not to skirt the boundaries of politics when it comes to light pollution, because the cause to fight pollution must have political support. In regards to this cause, I will support on this matter any elected official who demonstrates genuine understanding and sincere interest to finding solutions.
I really do believe we can be up to the challenge if only we commit ourselves to it. Fixing light pollution is not a veiled attempt to force civilization to live in the dark. We must acknowledge that light is a resource, a resource that should be properly managed so that its utility is handled responsibly. Use light in the areas you truly need to illuminate, but don’t let that light stray into the sky, or into your neighbors’ windows.
Someday, architects will design houses, factories, and skyscrapers which are “light neutral” to the environment. And we shall all understand someday the importance of keeping light only where it needs to be, and not to pollute our surroundings and waste energy with access light. Why can’t that someday be today?