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Lighting & Its Impacts

Lighting Our Streets
by Robert Prouse

Understanding Light Pollution
by David L. Crawford

The Death of the Night
by E. Annie Proulx

Read an excerpt from this article below. You can download the full article by using the link at the end of the excerpt.

Read start of Lighting Our Streets:

The lighting of our streets is important to every one of us. We should expect to walk along the streets of our town or city and feel that we are in a safe, welcoming environment in which we can see what we want and need to see. But too often we take street lighting for granted: "It's just there;" "It's a technical issue; " "Let the engineers handle it;" "I'm not going to get involved in that -- it's too complicated."

It is true that there are technical aspects of street lighting in which not just anyone could -- or would want to -- get involved. But there are other aspects of street lighting that any thoughtful person can explore and make decisions about. ...

Before a city or town goes to the expense of purchasing new lighting fixtures, it may want to ask that a working sample be installed on the street. This is often helpful because of the difficulty of fully knowing just how any particular lighting will actually look and feel. Members of a planning board, and other interested citizens, can provide valuable reactions to such mock-ups. The planning board or department might also take an active role in developing an overall lighting plan for the community -- in coordination with the public works department. ...

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Read start of Understanding Light Pollution:

Light pollution is not a matter of life and death. Yet it is important nonetheless, profoundly so. We human beings lose something of ourselves when we can no longer look up and see our place in the universe. It is like never again hearing the laughter of children; we give up part of what we are.

Such a loss might be acceptable if light pollution were the inevitable price of progress, but it's not. Most sky glow, as scientists call it, is unnecessary. The light that obscures our view of the night sky comes mainly from inefficient lighting sources that do little to increase nighttime safety, utility or security. It produces only glare and clutter, costing more than $1 billion annually in wasted energy in the United States alone.

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Read start of The Death of the Night:

I have the habit of looking up at hawks and clouds and stars. On clear nights I like to walk outside my house in central Vermont and be lifted into the vast wheel of the glittering sky. As a child I learned to search first for the Big Dipper and then, following its pointer stars, to find Polaris, the locus for sky-watching in New England. The easiest constellation to detect was Orion and his tough dog, with its studded collar and popeye. That eye is Sirius, a star that is twenty times brighter than the sun though far more distant.

At night I lie on the hillside to watch meteor showers. Sometimes I can see the northern lights, writhing streams of color in the upper atmosphere, agitated by solar winds. They look like a million miles of melting ribbon candy, or the brilliant curving edge of tide on black sand.

A few months ago I drove north from Boston to Vermont. It was a clear night, and in an earlier year I could have seen the stars or an auroral display through a clean windshield. Not this time. All the way, until I was twenty miles from home, the sky was obscured by the orange smear of sodium vapor lights along streets and roads, emanating from parking lots, shopping malls, and fast-food parlors. When at last I turned onto the dirt road to home, I expected darkness. But here too the night was stained with light. ...

End of excerpts

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