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Reasonable outdoor illumination standards

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lmk's picture
Reasonable outdoor illumination standards

I just saw an article on N. Korea, showing how it appears almost as a "dark sea" between S. Korea and China, as seen from the International Space Station. I understand the point of the article is to underscore the impoverished state of that country under its present political system, but to me it best illustrates how grossly the rest of the world wastes energy by extreme outdoor lighting!

N. Korea uses a tiny fraction of the energy that S. Korea does, but if you look at the second photo of a typical street scene in Pyongyang, though its quite dark by our standards, nevertheless it shows what "safe and sane" outdoor minimum lighting can do. They still use enough light for people to see and get around, but it is so low level, that the city of 3 million people generates as much light pollution as a small town in our country!

We face energy crises everywhere. I think the rest of the world has a lot to learn form this approach.

Mike LMK

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Reasonable outdoor illumination standards

I agree completely. Here in the UK, the Professor of Astronomy, DWN Stibbs, explained to the town council in 1965 how better lighting (principally, using cutoff shades) would be more economical and safer, whereas then and still current street lighting dazzles the motorist long before he reaches the stretch of road which receives reasonable illumination. The council grudgingly agreed to make improvements in the immediate vicinity of the University Observatory, while complaining that he was "blinding them with science"! A major problem is that most of our decision makers, at all levels, are machine politicians from an arts, not a science, background, and are totally uninterested in how the world works.

I choose to live in the countryside, my original home background, but even here there are lights. Three of my four neighbours have installed driveway lights, and in two cases, lights on the walls of their houses as well, and these are continuously on from dusk to about midnight, regardless of whether any one goes out or visitors are expected. Bizarrely, two of the three have installed "green" energy in the form of wind turbines or geothermal plants (I myself have solar panels) and the worst offender once quoted the International Dark Sky Association policy to me, with evident approval!

I find it hard to take seriously the occasional homilies from politicians on energy saving when such public and private waste goes unchecked.


pox's picture
light pollution

Yes... I too live in the country (purely for astronomy purposes!) and even though our village has no street lights - and virtually none of the locals are in favour of them - there is still detectable background illumination from Norwich about 6 miles away, giving a less-than-ideal western view. Even smaller settlements can interfere; for me, there is additional, but obviously smaller, light pollution from the two large villages of Brundall and Blofield which are only about 2-3 miles away. Maybe AAVSO members should relocate to N.Korea! (shudder)

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