The invention of electricity and the light bulb is the most important reason for the boom in technology, our society and how we enjoy our everyday life. We often take for granted that our world can be lit up instantly at the flip of a switch. Instead of going to bed at sunset we can continue our day into the night without the need for candles and oil lamps. We have come a long way since Thomas Edison wowed a crowd with street lamps of his first light bulb.
With all of the pros, the light bulb has brought us there is one big con that affects every living thing on Earth. With our cities and towns brightly aglow with street lights, shopping malls, sports fields, and our front porch; many never realize that most of that light is being wasted and shining straight into the sky. That light scatters and blocks our view of the stars and also harms the life cycles of plants, animals and yes even humans.
Before the light bulb came along, just about 100% of all people living on Earth could look up and see the Milky Way with their own eyes. For the entire history of humanity, they lived by the rise and set of our galaxy while witnessing it in fantastic clarity. Now it is estimated that almost 80% of people living today have never seen it and probably never will.
When a massive power outage struck southern California in the 1990's people were shocked at when they looked up at the sky. Residents were reportedly calling 911 after seeing strange clouds sprawled across the sky and continuously hovering overhead. They had no idea they saw the Milky Way for the very first time.
The scattered light also drains energy and bank accounts. According to the International Dark Sky Association "An estimated 30% of street lighting is wasted light; defined as light that shines up into the sky where it does no good. Based on this number, it is estimated that in the United States alone 22,000 gigawatt-hours a year is wasted. At a conservative average of $.10 per kilowatt-hour, the cost of that wasted energy is $2.2 billion a year – enough to fund a new mission to Mars annually. In other terms, 3.6 tons of coal or 12.9 million barrels of oil are wasted every year to produce this lost light."
All is not lost, and there are ways we can all do our part to cut down on light pollution.
- Shut off lights when you're not using them
- Shield and lower that watts of the lamps outside
- Use timers, dimmers, and sensors to keep the lights off in unused areas
- Install lamp covers that direct the light down and not up
Reducing light pollution doesn't mean living in the dark, it means unsung lights more efficiently and productively. Contact Best Electric to find the best dark sky lighting solutions for your home.