To Combat Light Pollution, Sports Lights Must Be Shielded

The amount of wasted energy in this picture is extraordinary.

How many obvious conditions of the world that we live in allude society’s basic comprehension?

Many.  Too many to count, would be my guess.  I am sure that we miss a lot of things, both as individuals and as society.  I acknowledge there are many things about the world and our existence right in front of me which I ignore, either from lack of observation skills or an ingrained conditioning to avoid.

Light pollution is one of these conditions that society ignores.  It does not exist in the minds of most people.  But it is such a fundamental premise that it is remarkable we gloss over the matter as we do.  It’s all around us, but we don’t see the decay it has wrought to the natural order.  We all use light, yet we assume that light is both infinite and practically free of costs.  When you flip a light switch, you don’t just assume, you reticently demand that a light turns on.  And when the switch does not work, you get angry and frustrated.  So powerful is the draw of light, it is almost intoxicating.

Why don’t we see light as a finite thing that should be managed like any other?  You don’t let your showers or faucets spray water in all directions in your bathroom.  Your chimney funnels smoke in a very specific way and direction for a good reason.  Our garbage and waste materials have very discrete locations where they should be placed.  Imagine if the gas pipe into your home protruded into your living room open-ended.

These are examples of resources and materials that we collectively understand how to manage.  But we, collectively, have no good understanding of how to manage light.  So we create all shapes and sizes of omni-directional lighting which emit photons up, down, left, right, sideways.  There is normally no need to radiate light in all directions, especially up.

So we light the empty sky above us, wasting photons.  Isn’t this a form of pollution?

Further, is not this a waste of energy?

An extraordinary and should-be-obvious effect happens when light is shielded and directed towards its intended target: you end up needing less light to illuminate the target!  That’s right, you could actually reduce the brightness of your bulbs if your lights were shielded.  Can you imagine how much energy would be saved if every streetlight in the world was shielded towards the ground?

There are fewer easier examples of this problem to note than how nighttime flood lights are used to illuminate sports events.  Since the beginnings of night sports, those giant light posts have been wasting both energy and light by not being shielded towards their intended play field targets.  Think about all that energy wasted over the last century, if only those lights had been shielded.

Somehow, we need to get the deep pockets – like Major League Baseball and the National Football Association – to realize both the problem of light pollution and the benefits to themselves and their communities for implementing fully shielded lights at their stadiums.  For once the heavy hitters make inroads, everyone else will follow.


8 thoughts on “To Combat Light Pollution, Sports Lights Must Be Shielded

  1. I totally agree with you, but unfortunately, I’m pessimistic about the start coming from sports. Some of my biggest bits of cynicsm in life come from the pro sports. They use the wildly bright lights to draw attention to the spectacle they’re selling. It’s certainly a problem, but I’d be shocked, deeply, to learn that the Cubs or Yankees were going to do the right thing. Those lights are a two-fer for them. They light the field, and act as a huge advertisement, a beacon, “Here’s where all your dreams are! Come and imagine you’re an [asterisk]ball player!” I love baseball, and hope, one day, to be wrong, but until it becomes profitable for them to change…

    Liked by 2 people

    • This war cannot be won with a direct assault, as there are too few troops presently. But through the spread of knowledge and awareness, eventually a critical mass will be attained, enough to push the current small scale, local efforts onto the national and world stages.

      It is not the polluters that I hope to reach, but their customers. In my small antedotal ways, I really have come to believe that if you can pull back the veil of ignorance, people will be surprised to witness this problem that has been in front of them their entire lives.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rereading your comment, it’s interesting how your tone toward light pollution is similar to the tone toward the difficult politics we have today. Start small, close to home, with little steps, and small things you can change. Change happens from the bottom. Don’t try to tear things down from the top.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The stargazer is mostly akin to a scientist. He wants to learn, not fight. But history teaches us that picking up the sword is necessary from time to time. In the matter of light pollution, what’s needed is the proverbial sword of knowledge. And the fight can certainly be won, because the cause is just.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes. Definitely. To clarify, I meant the message I pick up from you is similar to dealing with poitics, which is to start locally… Etc. I think in what I wrote I might have accidentally suggested you have the wrong idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And that is how I interpreted it the first time. What I did without a bridge explanation is, in acknowledging that you’re right, was to further extrapolate that it does sound like a ground-up political remedy because it’s an issue worth the effort in that very context. There would be little point to the anti-light pollution efforts going on in so many places if they were not worth the fight.

        Maybe this still doesn’t make sense, but I’ll see how it reads in the morning.

        Liked by 1 person

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