Thursday, October 19, 2006

One Planet - Lighting the world

I've just finished listening to the BBC's One Planet on the radio. In this week's One Planet, Mark Whittaker examines the cost of lighting in terms of energy wastage and in blocking our views of the night sky.

I think it's a brilliant episode. Anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky from the countryside or places where there is very little light will agree that the sight is amazing. Stars fill almost the entire sky. You can even see the Milky Way. It is one of the most beautiful sights that one can experience. Unfortunately, such sights have become very rare.

Today, most of us can no longer enjoy the beauty of the heavens because of light pollution. Light pollution is a side effect of industrial civilization. It comes from sources such as building exterior and interior lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights and stadiums. Most of these electric light is lost into the night sky and thus drowning most of the light from the stars.

"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. How I wonder what you are?" Maybe we should change this famous children's nursery rhyme into "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. How I wonder where you are?"

Because very soon, most kids will never get to see a star from where they are. And that's very sad.

Listen to Lighting The World now on the BBC website. You have until next Thursday before a new episode replaces this one. Pity they do not archive their episodes.


Anonymous said...

IZ: I never heard of light pollution until today. Thanks. Yup it is sad. I live in AMK and there is not many stars visible here even when there is no haze.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is a rotten place to view the stars.

There is still a lot of places where you can view the wonders of the heavens but you need to travel a bit.

Anonymous said...

"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. How I wonder where you are?"

Anonymous said...

I have never seen the Milky Way.


Anonymous said...

Woooohhhh someone listens to the BBC. I like.

Anonymous said...

heres one org doing something to fight light pollution. the international dark-sky association:

The mission of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting.

1. Stop the adverse effects of light pollution on dark skies, including
* Energy waste and the air and water pollution caused by energy waste
* Harm to human health
* Harm to nocturnal wildlife and ecosystems
* Reduced safety and security
* Reduced visibility at night
* Poor nighttime ambience
2. Raise awareness about light pollution, its adverse effects, and its solutions
3. Educate everyone, everywhere, about the values of quality outdoor lighting
4. Help stop other threats to our view of the universe, such as radio frequency interference (RFI) and space debris

To achieve these goals, IDA takes an award-winning unified approach that supports the individual efforts of our members and of others who advocate dark skies. In fighting light pollution we work with communities, astronomers, ecologists, and lighting professionals; we are active on local, national, and international stages. We have already accomplished much, but our work is not yet done. With your support, in time we will succeed in conserving, preserving, and restoring our natural dark skies.

Anonymous said...

my only experience of the heavens is when i was in new zealand in the mountains... the night sky was breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

No more stars not romantic liao