Letter: lights are for safety
The article ” City lights steal western skies” is the third article concerning lighting and how it is stealing our heritage that I have read in your paper over the last two months. The first article showed the concerns of two ladies in Genoa, the second article showed the concern of a farmer in Fernley and now the mentioned article.
It’s amazing that all three articles state “In order to save our heritage we need to turn to an association called Dark Skies.” They are a special interest group of astronomers. This small group would have us live in total darkness or under low pressure sodium lighting, that is totally unnecessary.
Ms. Tweit mentions that some of the polluters are street lights, billboards, sports complex parking lots and all night convenience stores. What does she want to do, eliminate them? She also mentions that sky glow costs money and that astronomer David Levy states that $2 billion worth of lighting is being wasted. Lighting fixtures have been designed that redirect the light to the task it is to illuminate. The only problem is that in order to have the amount of light required to illuminate the streets, parking lights, etc., you need either more lighting fixtures or higher wattage lighting fixtures. This shows that the $2 billion is part of operating costs and not wasted light. Small communities have voted to use the existing lighting because of costs. It would cost two and a half times the amount of money or more for properly designed lighting equipment than now spent and small communities just do not have the money.
Ms. Tweit also mentions that lighting kills birds, children’s eyes are strained because of ambient night lighting and that there is no proof that nighttime lighting promotes safety. There is no proof that birds become disoriented because of lighting but there is proof that we humans have encroached on bird habitation and migration lanes. Does Ms. Tweit even know what ambient lighting means? She and the medical researchers she quotes should take a course in lighting. All they would have to do is find their local Illuminating Engineering Society or a University that has lighting courses.
Ms. Tweit should ask to see reports on crime put out by the FBI and local law enforcement. They show that lighting reduces auto accidents, assaults, rapes, murders, and simple accidents.
I would like to know how the three people mentioned above have learned about the Dark Sky Association and why they are promoting it. Ninety-five to ninety-nine percent of the members do not have any lighting credentials. It seems to me that there is a large astronomers lobby that is bent on putting us into to the dark ages or to foist low pressure sodium lighting on us. Low pressure sodium is monochromatic and not pleasing to people or their environment. The next thing I expect to see is the Dark Sky Association getting a class action law suit against lighting fixture manufacturers for aiding and abetting in polluting the sky
I understand that the farmer in Fernley is presently writing laws concerning the mandating of low pressure sodium lighting fixtures. I would like to challenge him with a demonstration showing the difference between low pressure sodium and metal halide. I am sure that I could get a few manufacturers’ reps to provide equipment.