38. Light Pollution

There should be a government agency responsible for creating and enforcing light pollution standards. This agency would have the authority to impose fees on the manufacturers of exterior lighting fixtures which leak light to the sky beyond an amount allowable under these regulations. This agency would also have the authority to require permits and impose fees on external lighting arrangements if they leak beyond a certain amount of light to the sky.

On a larger scale, this agency should have the ability to measure light pollution (during random clear nights) emanating from any parcel of land within its jurisdiction, whether it is residential, business, or public lands. Perhaps an image of a large area could be obtained and then divided up through computer algorithms to enable accurate readings from individual parcels of land. Several images should be obtained over several random dates and times. If the average amount of light pollution exceeds a certain limit, appropriate enforcement actions could then be taken. The greater the amount of light leaking from the parcel, the greater the monetary fine would be on an exponential scale.

During times of significant astronomical events (namely, heavy meteor showers), outdoor lighting should be reduced or suspended. For example, street lighting, nighttime outdoor sporting events at stadiums (should not be scheduled during such nights), park lighting, parking lot lights, billboards, and businesses emitting a large amount of light, like gas stations, car dealerships, restaurants, etc., should be reduced or suspended. Governments could take the leading role in preventing light pollution during such times by turning off street lights, park lights, flag lights, and any other unnecessary lighting which they control. Private residences and businesses should be encouraged to do what they can to turn off outdoor lighting and take other measures to reduce light pollution.

Perhaps, if electric metering becomes advanced enough, the price for electricity should temporarily increase during significant astronomical events.
If significant cloud cover were to exist during the estimated time of the astronomical event, then all regulations could be cancelled.

One Response to “38. Light Pollution”

  • Tracy: August 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I am writing a petition for this at SignOn.org. Wholeheartedly agree! Even the dark sky cities still have significant light pollution, and we who populate the earth today have yet to witness the glory of the night sky unencumbered by light pollution. Many have not even seen the Milky Way apart from photographs! This past Perseid Meteor Shower was quite disappointing for me due to light pollution, even at 2 am.

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