Friday, December 16, 2005

The Scourge of Light Pollution

When I head up to the mountains before dawn, I'm always appalled by the number of bright lights burning outside businesses, residences and municipal buildings as I drive through town at 2 or 3 in the morning. Along with being a shameless waste of energy, such lights brighten the night sky for miles around, hiding the stars, altering the habits of birds and animals, and diminishing the mystery of the nocturnal woods and mountains.

The excellent website Planet Mountain has just translated a press release from WWF Italy, highlighting a report from the University of Bern that shows intense light doubling in the Alpine area of Europe in the last 15 years. Check out the difference in these pictures in just eight years. (You can see more pictures here.) Where will it stop? It's a sad day when the high peaks of the Alps and other ranges are bathed in the ambient glow from car dealerships and sports arenas instead of moonlight. My only hope is that energy costs rise to the point where the absurd practice of burning bright lights in the wee hours of the morning becomes unsustainable.

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