The French surrender to Astronomers – my town likely to be next

Now enviro-policy to “end light pollution” has France on track to look like North Korea at night:

satellite image of the korean penninsula at night, showing city lighting

satellite image of the korean penninsula at night, showing city lighting

From The Guardian:

Lights out – France to force shops and offices to go dark overnight

French light pollution law is expected to save 250,000 tonnes of C02 a year

The French ecology minister, Delphine Batho, said she hoped the law would change attitudes in France and help the country become a pioneer in reducing light pollution.

Full story here.

We’ve come so far to rid ourselves of the dark, only to have the lights forcibly turned off by zealots.

Luboš Motl writes about the issue

“Light pollution” is quoted as another justification. I’ve seen some movies about “light pollution” and although one could a priori think that this could be a legitimate concern, I think that all the people claiming that light pollution is a problem are Luddite lunatics, too. There’s just lots of places on Earth where light pollution is nearly non-existent. You may still go there. It’s probably not too important because not too many people are going there.

Maybe “bad astronomer” Phil Plait will move to France or North Korea now, we can only hope.

Locally, the idea of turning off lights has found favor in plans forged by the lunatic fringe that inhabits our town’s “sustainability committee”, run by Former Mayor Ann Schwab, who managed to sneak in the “climate action plan” in a meeting few attended on the night of the last election in 2012. Predictably, it was approved.

Since these folks on the council seem to worship the European way of doing things, I predict they’ll soon follow with the same edict. We have a lone volunteer staffed Chico Community Observatory in the town’s Bidwell park that they fought tooth and nail 10 years ago (I know, I was a part of it then), and they’ll now likely use it as a means to an end since, “Light pollution” was discussed at the onset.

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232 thoughts on “The French surrender to Astronomers – my town likely to be next

  1. Well, with the rate that violent crime is declining in the US, I would expect that public safety unions will actually be supporting groups lobbying for this sort of stuff in a cynical effort to keep enough crime going to avert layoffs. Seriously. If you look at how fast the crime rate is falling in the US, it is going to be hard justifying having so many police at some point. Those unions have a lot of political clout.

  2. Last stats I looked at showed France 75% or greater nuclear powered.(and exporting
    at that). Actually, power at night comes almost entirely from baseload power generators.
    Since nuclear plants are France’s (probably only) baseload generators,, then
    all those night lights are producing virtually no carbon emissions. Anyone want to guess the odds that the looney French greenies know that? Now let’s do a little recalculating….

  3. “Interactive lighting,” they call it.

    Lights that only turn on, or go brighter, when people or cars pass by.

    Luddites!

  4. Nuclear electricity. Lots’o’greenhouse gas THERE.

  5. Light pollution is very bad for astronomy, and it would be nice for most people, instead of just a few, to get to see the stars at night.

    What is generally promoted is using reflectors on street lights so that instead of light being wasted shining up and out, it shines down and out on the ground, producing more useable light. Zealots? Really?

  6. And what happens when the first assault happens because it was too dark to see the bad guys ….

    The introduction of street lighting in London was designed to reduce crime.

    I guess the eco-green is purely law-abiding himself, and his influence on his community, overpowering of lesser desires.

  7. Yeah, like theres a sky full of “light pollution” at the top of Mauna Keay.

    I bet the Hubble telescope is really hampered by “light pollution” what with all them stars and the sun in its sky.

    The James Webb telescope doesnt stand a chance faced with all that “light pollution” at the far rim of the visible universe.

    Pillocks.

    • @Michael Hart: re: “Ummm… the vast majority of French electricity comes from nuclear power.”

      maybe the french just want to see who glows in the dark?

  8. Screw the CO2 – I can’t stand the waste (something my parents drilled into me – don’t waste anything) of poorly-designed lighting, and the fact that the sky where I live is orange. I’m sorry, Anthony, but “We’ve come so far to rid ourselves of the dark…” doesn’t ring true. Or maybe I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t want to live in perpetual light… and I most certainly don’t want to be dictated to by AGW zealots, or by those who’d call me a Luddite. A dictator is a dictator whichever side of the fence they come from.

  9. While, I’m not for closing businesses and such, I am for doing what we can to reduce light pollution, I like taking pictures like this, and I need dark skys to do it.

  10. Now the Polar Bears refuse to die out I expect a new paper any time soon, “Moths to go extinct by 2050″ accompanied by a sad photo of three moths flattened against a street light, burnt to a cinder, eyes glistening as if crying.

  11. Isn’t the French electric grid almost all Nuclear and Hydro? How is banning lighting “saving” any CO2? Gas lights?

  12. As an amateur astronomer living in the south of the UK light pollution is a bane, but only for looking at deep sky objects or seeing beautiful sights like the milky way with your eyes. I can still take holidays to Wales or Cornwall to avoid light pollution, but it’s the UK ,you can’t guarantee the views unfortunately :(. I don’t want people to turn off their lights though that’s unreasonable. Most Light pollution is very easy to tackle though, you don’t need laws. You just need to sell the cost benefits of street lights that shine on the streets and not everywhere else as well. This improves efficiency and saves council tax for other things and leads to brighter streets below the light, with minimal light pollution as streets are not that reflective of light. Just with those measures I wouldn’t need to travel far outside my city for great views at a whim.

    I understand though most people don’t care about this, so it’s not something I get het up about ( except when I get frustrate trying to get a decent view of Saturn from my garden!!)

  13. ‘“Interactive lighting,” they call it.
    Lights that only turn on, or go brighter, when people or cars pass by.’

    Hrm. So, if someone is just loitering suspiciously waiting for the next passerby, the lights will helpfully go out around them?

    Oh well. Maybe they’ll be temporarily blinded when the lights go up.

  14. Hey, I’m all for businesses voluntarily reducing lighting and using motion sensors to light things up in the event of intruders…

    But as soon as it’s made into a LAW my approval vanishes.

  15. Lighting doesn’t do a very good job of deterring crime, possibly because the more light there is the easier it is for the criminals to see what they are doing and to see whether anyone is watching them. If you want security lighting, use motion sensors so that the light going on will tell you if something (or someone) is nosing around.

    And light going up into the sky, the way the vast majority of streetlights are designed, is just wasted energy.

    Light going sideways from those same streetlights forces the eyes of drivers to adapt to that brightness instead of to the much lower brightness of the street… thus making it harder to see rather than easier. Full cutoff fixtures (ie- pointed at the ground only) can achieve better street level visibility with less wattage.

  16. “The move, announced on Wednesday, is expected to save 250,000 tonnes of CO2 – enough energy to power 750,000 French households for a year.”

    I don’t think that is correct, it sounds like an exaggeration to me. Isn’t 250,000 tonnes of carbon just about 130,000 barrels of oil? And France consumes about 700 million barrels of oil a year. I don’t know, this claims sounds a bit fishy to me. How about you?

  17. Have any of you actually read the article? It’s not the street lights the French want turned off but all the lights in unoccupied offices and shops and other buildings. I don’t have a problem with that but perhaps it’s because I can’t see the point in waste, particularly energy, wherever it comes from.

  18. I doubt that this will save a lot of CO2 as France’s electricity is predominantly nuclear. Night lights are uvery useful to diminish grid load fluctuations.

  19. Just wait until the accident rates tripple after dark. The sabre tooth tigers would approve. Our universities are turning out mindless robots with no common sense or the ability to analyze and quantify a problem. Shada!

    Bill

  20. As an amateur astronomer, I have seen my fair share of light pollution, and yes, it is real. Note, please that I am not a luddite, and that eliminating light pollution is NOT the same as leaving us in the dark, or leaving shadows for criminals to hide in. Preventing light pollution does not mandate that we have less light. Just the opposite. Security lights, street lights, rest area lights along the highway — you would be amazed at how many of these light send a large fraction of their output into the sky or horizontally where they produce glare but not much ground lighting. By using reflectors over the lights, you can use the same wattage and almost double the amount of light on the ground. By reflecting horizontal glare downward to help light the area, you can not only get more light to fill in the shadows, but the lack of glare gives you a better view of any criminals who may be lurking.

    Cutting back on light pollution is not a hyper-wacko-eco idea. It is just common sense. It is no more crazy than suggesting that we should close our windows and doors when we want to heat or cool our houses.

  21. I’m with Steve Schaper and elftone on this.

    I don’t want to have to travel to special dark areas to see the milky way.

    There’s nothing wrong with using efficient reflectors or directional LED sources to stop light pointlessly shining upwards into space.

    Just because we don’t believe in CAGW doesn’t mean we are supposed to encourage wastage and pollution!

  22. Once Solar powers all electric lights, there won’t be any question regarding the efficacy of such a policy.

    Can anybody say “progress”?

  23. I’m with Steve. I wish we could have less light pollution in the Uk but as an amateur astronomer that’s a selfish thought.

    I don’t think many Americans comprehend what living in England is like. We are a country that’s roughly the same size as New York state or Iowa in area yet with 1 fifth the population of the whole of the United states. It’s crowded.

    Sure there are still idyllic green spots of solitude but there really are very few areas where you can spend an evening looking at the sky without any disruption from artificial light. It’s not a problem, but it is a shame.

    I’d support any plan to reduce light in suburban and rural* areas of the UK but not based upon the premise that it would help reduce commissions and as such combat temperature rise. But simply because there is no need to be wasteful and sometimes it’s nice to get away and just look at the stars.

    *Our cities are so crowded and busy that it would be dangerous to reduce light in those areas due to security and safety issues given the number of people who like to engage in nefarious activities in the dark.

  24. Also a Chico resident here. I love the observatory, and I haul out my little scopes sometimes. I’d love to just have some sane lights that illuminate down rather than actively trying to be seen from space.

  25. elftone – actually that is what night time lighting was for – to reduce crime. What hides in the dark is exposed by the light.

    Now we can debate whether or not we still feel that way or not – outside of just generally wanting to be able to see where we are going. In this case as a CO2 savings that is given as the justification for this action it is pretty useless. Nuclear power as others have noted – and the absolute failure in any confirmed research study that shows CO2 having much influence on the climate – I think the CLOUD study at CERN suggested maybe ammonia but pretty much said CO2 is inconsequential.

    Nothing wrong with saving money and not wasting things needlessly, no problem whatsoever with that – but lets call it for what it is. Personally I dislike streetlights because I do also like to see the night sky, but I live in an area where crime is low and even then the lighting is limited.

  26. The best option for mankind is to kill 4 billion people in a short period of time, and well that is what is being considered now. I don’t mind being one of them, since hell is a lie, and I’ll end up either nothingness in or heaven (which one, I’m not sure). We’re being prepared to live as slaves in the NWO, where only the top 1% of the current top .01% reign – and they will. Already we see how those who desire success and reach it are criticized. A possible leadership role will be from the richest family on earth (ever, and I mean ever – provably) the Rothchilds family, estimated worth at over 400 billion divided among many members living now all over the world. I’m not saying they are evil, you can decide that, but it’s a fact they are incredibly rich, and have more more than anyone else, and we all know money influences it all, so it’s a no-brainer behind the scenes, they command many at the highest rungs of politics and industry, and despite a bad stock market or any negative market adjustment, they keep getting richer – amazingly. People have misjudged the direction of our leaders, foolishly, and those in supreme power wish nothing less than having a lot more of it. Why is the financial derivative market worth 1.5 Quadrillion dollars? Do you even know how much money that is? Its more than all paper money ever printed since 700,000 BC. The scam is to skim real money off the derivatives, leaving worthless imaginary paper behind. Many of the worlds biggest enemies are disguised behind feel good entities like Not-for-profits, companies who we love, or so we think. They are not republicans or democrats. My advice is to live as you wish now, fulfilling your kindest or darkest desires, because there have been 70 billion humans on earth since we manifested on this planet, and aren’t you tired of living in mediocrity? It’s time to live your dreams or defeat your enemies, like the rich do, because that is the nature of human beings, purely.

  27. http://darksky.org/about-ida is worth a visit. I’m not one that believes we must turn off all the lights, but after working in places where excessive nighttime illumination was causing very real threat to endangered populations I thin we can do better.

    Much of the night lighting is an incredible waste of resources that offers no reasonable benefit. Lighting a downtown skyline all nite a perfect example. Some areas do need lighting to address crime and safety – however, many, many places – rural and otherwise – do just fine with minimal night lighting.

  28. OT: ‘FATHER OF THE PRIUS’ DECLARES ELECTRIC CARS ‘NOT VIABLE’

    “Hybrid car pioneer and “father of the Prius” Takeshi Uchiyamada says the billions poured into developing battery electric vehicles have ultimately been in vain. “Because of its shortcomings–driving range, cost and recharging time–the electric vehicle is not a viable replacement for most conventional cars,” said Uchiyamada. “We need something entirely new.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/02/04/Father-of-the-Prius-Declares-Electric-Cars-Not-Viable

  29. i’m an amateur astronomer in the middle of england.the light pollution is horrendous.forget about the CO2 angle. we should all be in favour of seeing beautiful starry skies.

  30. I too welcome any chance for a reduction in light pollution. Being one where glare has become a concern while driving at night I hate any and all roadside lighting that casts light out to the sides instead of down. Doctors find nothing wrong with my eyes but glare still bothers me. And I would love to be able to see the night sky as I could when I was a child. I have lived all of my 50 years in the same city and it is disheartening that my children were unable to look up in wonder at the night sky.
    I have often thought how useless it is for any business to stay fully lit when it is closed. Motion sensors can turn on lights if there is anyone snooping around. And by having lights come on only when activated by motion it actually alerts others that something isn’t right and perhaps it needs to be checked out. With everything lit nothing stands out, no one cares.

  31. Good Grief……..not dark sky you Luddites! rotfl
    ..inside lights! offices and stores

    “Under the new law, which comes into effect on 1 July, lights in shop window displays will be turned off at 1am. Interior lights in offices and other non-residential buildings will have to be switched off an hour after the last employee leaves. Local councils will be able to make exceptions for Christmas and other special occasions, and in certain tourist or cultural areas.”

  32. The amount of astronomy that is being done from the surface of the earth using visible wavelengths is dropping every year. And little of that is being done any where near major cities.

  33. I think this needs a deeper look. Night lights are usually run on base load power stations which cannot be turned off willy nilly. They have too much thermal inertia and sudden turn on and turn offs causes the turbine blades to distort during fast heat up or cool down. If they are running nuclear as base load then turning off the lights will save no CO2. If they are coal fired they will just have to keep runnig as spinning reserve and therefore save no CO2. Maybe there is some gas they can turn off?

  34. The present government of France is socialist, incompetent, ecoloon and deeply unpopular and not surprisingly the economy is close to going into free fall.

    You don’t have to be totally insane to think about starting up a business in France, but it helps, due to the plethora of labour laws savagely discriminating against those who want to work.

    As for turning off the lights, as pointed out several times earlier here, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in a nuclear powered society.

  35. I’m not in favor of more government regulation, but you can put me down as one of those “luddites” that wouldn’t mind seeing more attention paid to the fact that we, often needlessly and wastefully, light up the evening sky. Cities and residents can even save a little money by putting a little more thought into lighting.

  36. I don’t want to have to travel to special dark areas to see the milky way.

    Every time I get to a decent dark spot I am astonished ever yet again, decently directed street lights would help a bit, but just the huge glow of humanity in the cities makes travel a necessity. I’ll travel. But I’ll bitch too.

  37. Interior lights in offices and other non-residential buildings will have to be switched off an hour after the last employee leaves
    ===================
    So I guess the night cleaning crews would be employees…

  38. I can understand the desire to see the night sky — but how much of that ‘light pollution’ is from interior office lights? Seems to me that most of the so-called pollution IS from street lights or security lights and, frankly, I LIKE those.

  39. i don’t know if anyone mentioned the fact that the French produce some 80% of their electrical power by means of nuclear power stations that produce zilch CO2 emissions. So, switching off the electric lights in France to reduce CO2 emissions is a big lie. Fact is that the French government is broke.

    There is no state on this planet that has taken a left turn and not found itself worse than it started.

  40. Now this is something worth while. It’s ridiculous the amount of light pollution out there. But it’s bad news for people that are afraid of the dark. In my area I’d love to see the end of floodlights enshrining those obnoxious McMansions in 1000s of watts of light all night long.

  41. Count me in as wanting a reduction in unnecessary light. Must be no crime during the day with all that light to scare the criminals.

  42. I’m all in favour of any moves towards reducing light pollution, or any other pollution (wearing my radio amateur hat, particularly that of the short wave). As several English amateur astronomers have already noted above, the night sky is a rare sight in the UK, plus as a local taxpayer I want to see that money paying to light the streets, not the sky. Makes sense all ways.

  43. Actually, as an amateur astronomer, i find light pollution to be a very real problem. Also, lots of people have disconnected from astronomy and science as they can’t even see the night sky anymore, it is as if they don’t know it exists.
    Light pollution can be managed by turing lights towards the ground, not up. You will find it more effective that way too, it will not blind your night vision as direct light does.

    As for CO2 as an excuse? forget it.

  44. MarkW commented on

    The amount of astronomy that is being done from the surface of the earth using visible wavelengths is dropping every year. And little of that is being done any where near major cities.

    Maybe in professional astronomy, but there are a lot of amateurs out there. I live between two cities, and I don’t want to have to drive for hours just to find dark skies.

  45. I predict a jump in petty crime and vandalism and increased flashlight sales. Gun sales should also rise. A midnight stroll along the Seine will be even more exciting.

  46. The story is not about street lighting, but shop window displays and lights left on in un-occupied offices if you actually read it.

  47. Rhoda R says:
    February 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Seems to me that most of the so-called pollution IS from street lights or security lights and, frankly, I LIKE those.

    But there are lights with shrouds that block much of the light pollution from those types of lights.

    I live between two cities that have huge light domes, but I live next to a national park which gives me better skies than would be expected from my location, except for the driving range with the stadium lights(summer), and the two ski resorts, and runs stadium lights pointed at a snow covered mountain until about 2:00 am (winter).

  48. Darkness works both ways, the bad guys can’t see the people to mug. That aspect aside, I too would like to see the night sky. I sailed overnight offshore some time ago. I had forgotten just how beautiful the night was. It was as if someone had taken a paint roller, dip it into a bucket of stars then painted the night sky.

  49. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and light pollution was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be dark: and there was darkness. And God saw the light pollution, that it was wicked: and God divided the light pollution from the dark.

    I know it is blasphemous. However, not more so than the very concept of “light pollution”, which goes against millennia of divine wisdom.

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (which we have aplenty)

  50. You’re off base in complaining about this. Just because THEY chose to interpret this in the context of CO2 and the rest of that BS doesn’t mean that we have to. Light pollution is its own issue, ‘global warming’ be hanged.

    Light is pollution, when you don’t want that light. If your neighbor blares his stereo at your bedroom window at 3AM, you can call the cops. Rightly, they will do something about the fact that he is intruding on your peaceful use of your own property with sound pollution, likely disturbing your sleep. But if he shines a #$%^ing floodlight at your bedroom window at 3AM, also disturbing your sleep, he will likely get away with it.

    Let alone the true loss of the beauty of the night sky for most people. 80% of Americans live in metro areas, and do not have the opportunity to view creation from their own back yards. I have a difficult time enjoying the towns 4th of July fireworks for the neighbors’ porch lights shining onto my property, nevermind a meteor shower. Getting to the country is inconvenient for all, and near impossible for many. Not to mention that when you get there, every $%^&ing farmhouse has a streetlight next to it.

    So much of this can be avoided, by simply not wasting light and illuminating only that which you intend to (and which is yours to illuminate).

  51. I hope this is not the shape of things to come:

    “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our time”
    (Sir Edward Grey, outbreak of WW1)

    Not open warfare of course, but idealogical and economic – just as bad, the one often leads to the other.

  52. I don’t care for how the French are going about it (but, hey, socialism). I *do* care that light pollution in DFW is so bad that I practically have to have blackout curtains so my kid can sleep at night — seriously, we have not a light on my street, and I am in NO danger of stubbing my toe in the yard at night.

  53. Light pollution is a real issue for astronomers, both for amateurs and for professional installations that have had nearby cities grow up in size over the decades. There are a number of ways to reduce light diffusion up into the night sky, while still having plenty of safe lighting shining down toward the ground where it is needed. This is a well known issue in astronomy circles and should not be dismissed without understanding the issues.

    Whether the French news item Anthony highlights is really an attempt to improve astronomical observation conditions or a back door attempt to push some green agenda is a separate issue . . .

  54. I bet the night sky is amazing in North Korea, especially when there’s no moon. The only dark sky near me is a 2 hour drive.

  55. How is saving energy and preventing lights shining into the sky “Luddite” ?

    The point here is that its perfectly possible using good lighting design and controls, to light areas that need it AND have a reasonably dark night sky.

    And why object anyway to turning off office and shop lights left blazing away uselessly all night ?

    Some good comments on this thread that shows the original post was misguided.

  56. Glad to see a number of comments here attacking the dusky-peach skyglow from sodium streetlights [even if the original article was about bossing shopkeepers around using the hockey-stick of CO2 denormalisation]. Migraine-inducing levels of artificial lighting are a political feely to address “fear of crime” – they don’t reduce actual crime. I’ve linked a few studies about that on my old blog [clicky name], finding negative correlation between light-level and crime-rates.

    What headbanging levels of streetlighting does is condition us to fear the dark. Please Big State, protect us from its evil and the bad men who are sure to lurk under its cover. It is also tangible evidence of a small portion of tax money being spent on non-naughty public service type activities.

    The sodium orange vomits on architecture, reducing sense of place – everywhere starts to look like everywhere else. Because if there’s one thing the British political class can’t abide, it’s “localism”.

  57. As an amateur astronomer, I agree with the policy. I would love to see the Milky Way from my own backyard .However, there are good ways to reduce light pollution with the correct fixtures without having to turn all the lights out.

  58. FIrst of all, 93% of the French electricity production in 2011 was non-carbon based, according to my latest bill from EdF(2.7% coal, 2.7% gas, and 1.2% fuel oil, 0.4% “other”). The combustion units were probably used (1) during the highest peak periods, which occur during the winter here in France, because of the need for heating, or (2) in the coal producing areas up north, in order to ensure the the coal miners have something to do. Most nuclear units are baseload, but some do load-following, because they are such a large part of the generation capacity. The windmills(3.7%), as we all know, only generate when the wind blows.

    I agree with the comments to make sure the lights shine down, and not up into the sky or into people’s windows, but we should also realize that when the lights are on, during the winter, they also provide heat to the buildings, as well as security. The nights are longer here in the winter because we are far to the north, while in the summer they are short. So, that energy is not really “wasted”, unless your value system says that lighting is wasted unless there are people there. And, every residential building I have been in here has had timers on ALL the hall lighting since the 80s.

    The carbon-savings argument is really just BS green PR. It is highly unlikely that ANY carbon generation is running during the night, except as specialized spinning reserve, so when the lights are turned off, the nuclear units will just run back a few percent further. Everything else will run the same. If carbon units are running during a peak winter load, they are providing electricity for heat, and the heat energy will end up in the building one way or another.

  59. After reading most of the comments above, I think most would agree that it comes down to balance.
    Street lights often shine into bedrooms at night, so having them going off and on at night could wake light sleepers. Reflectors to redirect the light where it is needed and not everywhere else makes sense. Driving between towns and cities overnight, going from darkness into overly bright intersections and like, is very hard on the eyes and unnecessary.
    Voluntary efficiency should always be encouraged. This requires mass public awareness and discussion. Waste not, want not.
    There is a town in New Zealand that has limited itself to a maximum amount of light pollution as there is an excellent observatory nearby, which has driven some innovative solutions.
    It comes down to knowledge, context, understanding, perspective and priorities.
    What do we value most?

  60. All over the UK streets lights go off with no discernible effect. Speaking as a criminal I like to see my victims first.

  61. How about removing useless daylight headlamp running in the countries where it is mandatory?
    Since: “….the third statistical analysis conducted by NHTSA to evaluate the effectiveness of daytime running lights (DRLs)…the analysis found that DRLs have no statistically significant overall effects” this could save, in Canada, about $1 million per day in fuel costs and restore the ability to signal other drivers by headlamp flashing.

  62. I think this is fantastic! When people can no longer look up at the night sky and see stars, at least the poetic side of me thinks something dear has been taken from us.

  63. Let there be Light.

    When flying into Costa Rica from the north one notices the darkness over Nicaragua and upon crossing into CR airspace the incredible network of lights on the ground below. Is this a good thing?

    Well, having lived many years in the countryside here and knowing how bureaucracies work, let me tell you a story, perhaps not as entertaining as Willis, but maybe as informative.

    ICE, the monopoly electricity company has a program to illumate the countryside. One can find country roads that run for kilometers without a habitation, but illuminated. At night probably not one soul passes by as the lights shine. Why? Because there is some department in ICE the employees of which are dependent upon extending road illumination or else – or else, what? Certainly not losing their jobs, but that is a different story.

    On the other hand, ICE regails us not to waste electricity, and has all sorts of programs and propaganda urging citizens to save little electrons from an untimely demise.

    No, there is almost no such thing as a nighttime sky here. We are lucky to be able to discern the full moon as it rises (slight exageration for the sake of the narrative).

    Electric light is perhaps the miracle of the last 2 centuries, but sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. I raise a Pilsen to Thomas Edison.

  64. As French nuclear power generation already does some load following, there is absolutely nothing to be gained (in terms of the generating industry) by reducing night time electricity demand further. In actual fact, it would probably benefit the power stations to force the shops and offices to keep the lights on at night! Pushing nuclear further into load following could have adverse effects. It would be better to find a use for the excess electricity available at night, though if smart meters are introduced, a bit of cheap overnight electrical heating would do the job. It is the evening peak demand (as people arrive home, and plug the kettle in) that we could do with reducing.

  65. It would nice if the outside fixtures commonly in use today were replaced with the sky friendly ones as their service life ends. Last time i read about them they were comparable in price – same amount of light – just aimed down where folks actually need to see and not at the International Space Station. the nightly blue and orange glows that the present lighting produces can be seen far beyond the horizon and in my opinion is just as much an eyesore at night as the windmills decorating our wilderness areas are in the day. I really miss seeing the big meteor showers from my house, and there are two notable comets coming this year. It’s not always possible to drive to a location hours away from home to a low light area as some here have suggested. Especially on the east coast of the US. Check out “http://www.blue-marble.de/nightlights/2010″

  66. As an amateur astronomer, I agree with the policy. I dont care what BS is been used to justify it, I want a dark sky, outdoor or indoor lights, I want them all off. One thing I do agree with is I DO hope Phil Plait would move to North Korea because he is a jackass.

  67. I too like darkness at night, but it has nothing to do with saving the planet. I few years ago I called the power company and asked if they could put a switch at the bottom of the power pole that has the yard light. I want the yard light on sometimes when I’m working outside after dark, but would like to turn if off when not needed. They said I would have to hire an electrician to do that. Well, the light is on their side of the meter and I’m charged a flat rate of $3/month so I don’t get why they wouldn’t want to put a switch on it for me to turn if off every now and then.

    Not willing to mess with their light and be accused of damaging anything, I’ve finally decided to rig up a small light at the top of the pole that can be turned on and off remotely or hard-wired to a switch at ground level. The small light will trigger the light sensor turning the yard light off at night. The only problem is, I ‘ll have to climb up the pole or get my wife to run the loader and lift me up to the top. Now that’s scary. (having my wife operate a loader with me in the bucket next to a power line).

    This may be my last comment.

  68. I’m another amateur astronomer too.
    Look out the aeroplane window when coming to land. Street lights actually do have very effective reflectors. The biggest problem is the light scatter (humidity) and the light bandwidth.

    Back in the 1980′s the British Astronomical Society went all out with many famous scientists to have the UK install low pressure sodium bulbs which give off a monochromatic light which is easily filtered. Plus the fact a 150W (low pressure) has the same light as a 400W (high pressure) Sodium Bulb.

    They said (sic) yes, yes, yes. It will save the public purse a fortune because they burn so efficiently.. My town had a rebuild.. No no no. It is now like daytime lit up in pure white and sod the taxpayer. There are millions of British children who have no idea of the wonders of their own sky. The politicians must of thought it would make the colour blind bump into traffic lights.

    My area now has blue/white LED lighting and are actually quite painful to the eyes when driving in the car. The dark/light contrasts are far too high because the blue in the light closes the iris to protect the eye, lowers the painful glare; hence leaves everywhere else in the dark.

    Basically, we have a bunch of brain dead cretins flogging their second rate untested goods to other brain dead carbonazi cretins that don’t even have a basic clue that red light penetrates better, easy on the eye; causes no glare and if you want to see the sky, easily filtered.

    Isn’t this thread about unused French offices turning lights and computers off at night?
    And why are so many turkeys here voting for Christmas? Street lights cost YOU MONEY!

  69. I’m french and I am really ashamed of having such a silly Government. Since our electricity comes at 80% from nuclear plants, it will just make the consumption peaks even bigger and the cities less safe in the night. So we’ll have to spend more money on managing the electric grid and on “safety lightenings”, wait for it !

  70. I have thought for some time that it would be good to have a monthly lights-out evening in Los Angeles so my students would know what stars look like. One would think that economics would motivate store owners to turn off the lights to save money; however nighttime lighting is good advertising and the nature of business is not to give your competitors an edge. (I remember during the Arab oil embargo running very low on gas at night and going some distance off the freeway in Moreno Valley to an illuminated (Arco?) sign, only to find when I got there that the station itself was closed.) So I suppose there is a perverse logic in requiring everyone to do it.

    But maybe “physician, heal thyself!” is applicable here. The government itself is the major illuminator. Before passing laws for the rest of us, a conversion to motion detection and directional LED street lights could save a lot of tax money. (BTW, I think I read that coherent LED lighting can be tuned to a narrow wavelenth that astronomers can filter out. Someone here can probably comment on that.)

  71. I spent my summers 30 years ago in rural Ireland (one of the least light polluted areas in Europe at the time) and recently lived in the North of Western Australia (which must be the least light polluted land area on the planet, maybe on par with North Korea). The magnificence of the Milky Way at night is something that is impossible to grasp till you see it with the naked eye in full Panorama. Deep sea Sailing has the same benefits, with the added option of the occasional rational fear of drowning. That for me would be enough to try out the French suggestion of turning out the lights in buildings which are empty. The complete waste of leaving lights on when there is no one there to benefit has always annoyed me.

  72. A nice illustration of light pollution over New Zealand’s captial city can be seen at:

    http://markg.photoshelter.com/image/I0000nnUP_7sHv0I

    The pollution arises from wated light that is deflects upwards. It can be substantially eliminated by the use of cut-off lighting. This provides enhanced illumination at ground level for a lower energy input. Security is markedly improved. Costs are less.

    We are not talking North Korea or luddites here. Rather think Calgary. They did this years ago:

    http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/Roads/Pages/Traffic/Traffic-signals-and-streetlights/Streetlight-FAQs.aspx

  73. To the whining “astronomers” on here…You are AMATEURS gettit!

    Proper astronomers have proper facilities in proper locations, such as at the top of mountains or in orbit…as I referred to previously.

    And this is OPTICAL “astronomy” you are fumbling with in your backyards, in the 21st Century.

    Who do you guys think you are, Lord Herschell?

  74. Jayne at 3.17p.m. is referring to the town of Tekapo near Mt John University Observatory in the central South Island of New Zealand. This area known as the McKenzie Country has been listed as a world heritage site because of the dark skies. There are similar areas being promoted around the world. Gueaga Dark Sky Park in Ohio is something of a rarity in the eastern U.S. as far as I know.

    As an amateur astronomer I have dreaded the day that the green zealots latch onto the case against light pollution. On cue they go about it all the wrong way insisting on lights being turned off etc, and for the wrong reasons to boot! Roading/lighting engineers are becoming more and more atune to the benefits of efficient downlights on our highways in New Zealand. Some of my astronomical friends are a bit too impatient and want all of the street lights changed asap. This just isn’t practical. Light pollution is an insidious thing and a solution to it is not a five minute fix.

    Several people writing here live under the misguided conception that more light offers more of a deterrent to criminals when quite the opposite is true. If burglars for example have to provide their own light then there activities are more noticeable to those who need to know. Think of how the infamous Watergate Burglars were spotted.

    Some of the worst examples of light trespass are poorly directed security lights. In one example put out by the IDA (International Dark Sky Assoc. based in the U.S.) they show a brightly lit car park area next to a building with a few small trees in a garden beside a building. In the second photo the lighting is shielded from direct view and suddenly three men can be clearly seen standing between the trees that weren’t visible in the first photo.

    As an interesting aside, when I started into astronomy 40 years ago this year many councils around the country decided to turn the street lights off after midnight as a cost saving measure during the first Arab Oil Crisis in 1973. My city’s population was around 65,000 back then and I lived in an outer suburb so it was like moving to the country at each midnight. There was no increase in crime rates anywhere that I am aware of. In the end I voted with my feet and have lived in the country for the past 33 years. Having said that I am only 10 miles (16km’s) from the city and yet I enjoy very dark skies despite the combined glow of the now 90,000+ to my east.

    In 1986 we petitioned the local city council to turn the street lights off for a few hours on clear nights so that city folk could get a better view of Halley’s Comet. The numerous straw man arguments raised here were prevalent and the council decided against it in the end. low and behold though and for some reason still unknown one fine night the street lights failed for a few hours that April. everything else was still working. many people commented on the great view that they had of the comet riding high in our southern skies that night. To me the more memorable thing was to see just how much commercial uplighting contributes to the green/orange glow above our populated centres! It always intrigues me as to why neon advertising lights need to be on at 3.a.m. Who are they trying to attract the attention of? The drunks staggering out of the bars that are now open until the wee hours perhaps?

    The movement of the greens into this arena will only detract from a worthy cause. A cause that doesn’t need extremes or extremists!

    Cheers,
    Coops

  75. I would love to have most lights turned off, I hate the permanent orange glow of the sky that prevents any decent view of the stars. I equally hate my security obsessed neighbour who insists on leaving outside wall lights on all night every night.
    The odd thing is however that if you go somewhere without lights, the rural village where I grew up or modern rural France, it is very rarely completely dark.
    Go outside at night, let your eyes adapt, and on most nights you can see further and more easily by the natural moon and starlight than with street lights and security lights which dazzle and cause shadows and actually prevent you seeing anything beyond the pool of light they produce.
    On the occassional pitch black night one carries a torch!

  76. As an extension to my comment at 1:46 pm and referring to rxc6422 at 3:13 pm
    When I worked in the electricity industry in the 1980′s we investigated turning off street lights and building lights as a load shedding and conservation measure. Because we had a coal fired base load it turned out that the generators had to be run over night whether there was load or not, since the turbines could not be turned off. The overnight load was considered a bonus because it kept the generators under some load – anyone who has worked with diesel generators knows that they are recommended to be kept under load – so there turned out to be no benefit in turning lights off. We focused more on finding ways to move peak load during the day to the night when there was excess idle capacity on line. Certainly there was no fuel savings to be made by turning off lights at night. A night tariff at a cheap rate is offered to maintain some load overnight for street lighting and water heating to sell some of this excess capacity that is going to be produced anyway.
    This must be the same everywhere?
    Of course as rxc6422 and others have noted France is a nuclear powered base load system. I dont see how there can be a conservation advantage here, and certainly no CO2 output benefit. If there is a reduction in load at night – it is almost certainly the most expensive generators with the lowest input that would be shed – in the European context I would imagine that would be wind power.

  77. Being an astronomer, light pollution is a real problem and most of it is totally unnecessary as it is poor lighting which causes it. I am also dependent upon safety lighting as well. The answer is not no lighting but rather proper lighting. Simply put, if you can look around (not up) and see the light bulbs, then the lighting is not doing its job. The bulbs should be shielded and only what is being illuminated should be seen.
    Light going out horizontally or even up causes problems. A simple example I have to endure is the baseball stadium lights at a local park which are busy illuminating the other side of the freeway and blinding everyone driving by on the freeway. What’s amazing is that no fatal accidents have happened there yet. BTW, I live 50 miles from the nearest city and 7 miles from the nearest small town so I have to put up with light bubbles only from one direction.
    Having lighting without the lightbulbs blinding observers means less light works better than even much more light with the bulbs visible when it comes to seeing things.
    As a user of safety lighting, I’ll have to say that it’s vastly overrated. When there’s no patrolling or security cameras present, having poor lighting with visible bulbs is where people tend to hang out and totally blacked out areas are avoided by everyone.
    For anyone interested, I’d suggest going to the Dark Skies Association and reading about the situation. Full cutoff light hoods and common sense application of lighting produces a better job with less wasted power. BTW neither I nor the DarkSkies organization are part of the lunatic left nor do we advocate eliminating safety lightning or tyranical control of power usage. We do tend to believe in light tresspass as well as in private property rights.

  78. I don’t see the issue here – I used to live in a Vancouver, BC subdivision that only had a street light at intersections. I was wonderful low level lighting. The BC Hydro Building was always fully lit back in the 60′s and 70′s along with many others … it seemed a total waste to me but they justified it on the life cycle of the bulbs being affected by being turned on and off but with new technology, that doesn’t apply. Now I live on a farm where the only light at night is a motion sensor yard light … and a flare from a malfunctioning oil/gas well recently drilled which I definitely consider light pollution. And I don’t worry about crime in the dark cause any idiot knows farmers carry.

  79. There is no better way to encourage looting. These people have lost their fvcking minds. I live in a country where we used to have power outages 1/4 of the day. It was terrible. Today, it is only about 1 hour a day. I can comment on this because I know what it’s like and it’s no fun losing food in the fridge when you have had no electricity for 6 hours, your computer going off mid-paragraph et. al. These fvckers have no idea what it’s like.

    Please good people, do not listen to these insane Warmists. They live comfortable lives and their ultimate plan is to wipe out most of humanity while they, and their offspring survive. Just look at the saintly Al Gore 2 mansions, Pachauri the oil extractor technician.

  80. Add me to the list of amateur astronomers who regret the loss of the dark. I am not against lighting per se but I am against wasteful lighting without purpose or value. I deeply regret that my children do not get to see even the thin sky that I used to see at night. Well, once when we took a family vacation to the mountains but they do not have the chance for casual study on a random summer night. Summer skies to them are gray to orange. If they never have the chance to develop that sense of wonder in the boundless skies, where will our next generation of professional astronomers come from?

    Regarding looting and safety? Yes, there is some value. In the vast majority of cases, however, the light is inefficiently blasted out without regard for need, directional control or spill-over. I used to live behind a local school. In response to some minor vandalism (graffiti), they put up klieg lights that would have done any concentration camp proud. Sleeping in any bedroom facing the school became an exercise in futility. Stress levels shot up and property levels dropped. Worst, it didn’t stop the vandalism because the kids quickly realized that the school wasn’t actually watching their new, well-lit perimeter.

    The safety issue can be further complicated by the night-blindness induced by modern lighting. It is infeasible to light everything – shadows will always exist for people to lurk in. When your eyes are blinded by gratuitous streetlights, you can’t see as well as if you let your eyes adjust to the dark. I’m not saying that lighting is all bad but neither is it an unmitigated good.

    Socially, it’s an issue of balancing rights. Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. How far does your right to light the skies (for whatever purpose) go before it unfairly infringes on my right to enjoy the peace and solitude of a starry night?

  81. I just came in from a hot tub naked-eye astronomy session, here in Lake Michigan aboard my little Island ship of state with ~400 souls this snowbird season. The sky is utterly dark and full of hard diamonds. My hope is to see a polar orbiting satellite but it’s usually too late and the Earth’s shadow too high.

    About properly loaded generators, we maintain three 2.5 MWe pairs of diesel generators, legacies of when all power was local. Then, to maintain adequate night time load to run a set, the REA subsidized consumer heating electricity, so I have two meters and relatively cheap electric heat. A typical month’s heating cost is $100 for 1000 KWh.

    The nearest improperly shielded lights are about a mile away, so a night in the dark of the moon is dark and quiet. It has taken me years to not be awakened by the refrigerator compressor cycling. Now the nights are approaching the coldest of the year and the cottage pops and groans as the deck boards freeze. The Niagara Escarpment, twenty-five feet from the window, talks too as the ice shatters rocks.

  82. I think this is a good idea – I like to see the stars at night – and you don’t to have an opinion either way on AGW to oppose waste.

  83. @Wamron you incomprehensible, illiterate child.
    You are a cretin. “gedditt”. So, if people here deny you of your pleasures because you say its the right thing to do onto others. That would be ok will it?
    Seems uneducated losers like you come on here when mummy has taken your xbox away so you might get some sleep before school..
    People who have a scientific and life interests in the world outside an LCD will count many real world hobbies through their lifetimes as unforgettable experiences that sad little scrotes like you can never comprehend..

  84. I’ll add my two cents on astronomy and light pollution.

    I’m a member of the local amateur astronomy society, and we try to address it by education and persuation. Heavy-handed proscriptive edicts only raise people’s hostilty (sound familar?).

    There are plenty of lighting options available that lower electricity use, provide more pleasant light, and still serve as a deterrent.

    Most people listen when it’s presented in those terms. We even got cooperation from one of the local billboard companies, who agreed to install downward-only lighting near our moutain-top observatory (well…hill-top really).

  85. On the plus side, this is certainly good news if you are a Wolverine living in France. Wolverines are primarily nocturnal creatures and thrive in darker environments. I foresee a resurgence in the French Wolverine population as a result of this.

    Viva Le Carcajou!

  86. Apparently, you, Americans, have a problem with the French. There are a few things which you have not realiased yet : 650 murders a year for a population of 65 millions, that is about one tenth of your rate…
    Seeing the Milky Way is a pleasure.

  87. My thanks to all the science oriented astronomers visiting this thread!!

    To all of you urbites who dread the dark places in the night, keep your light usage private within your house!

    Civilizations that founded the beginnings of science both studied and revered the stars. Stars that allowed them to navigate and measure things across this earth. Now mankind fears to see evidence of existance and grandeur far beyond their dreary life.

    Nowadays, the city dwellers who’ve grown up thinking that night skies are and should be a dim murky gray brown emptiness, well, perhaps their comforting night lights should be turned off.

    I can not fathom why, in a world of efficient machines we tolerate lighting equipment that wastes so much light in directions where it can not be used or is even blinding. Why stick a hundred watt bulb in an outdoor fixture that then sends a large portion of that wattage into space?

    Forget CO2, French, North Korea, WW wackies and whatnot; use light efficiently and let everyone see the majesty of the night sky. It sure would be a pleasure when the amateur astronomers amongst us try to educate young’uns, if they wouldn’t look so disbelieving when we describe the Milky Way, constellations, planets and stars in our night skies.

    Support the idea of using light efficiently! Scoff at their reasons perhaps; with a guffaw or two at the CO2 hawkers. Just tell them they’re doing the right thing, but for doofus rationale.

  88. Office lights are usually high frequency fluorescent tubes and are extremely efficient.
    Offices full of computers nobody ever turns off is another matter entirely. A 300W pc is approx 5 EU cents/hour to run. Unused 16 hours/ day for say a banks 1000 units. .. 800 Euro’s/day. For 365 days (we’ll assume no holidays) is a grand total of 292K Euro’s/year.
    .
    Now lighting costs aside. That money would buy me a nice bacon buttie for my birthday.

  89. Why don’t they install street solar lights, instead of turning off all street lights for safety sakes.

  90. Different people will have different views on this matter. People in Las Vegas and all similar places will not like it. People in safe suburbs and all similar places will probably like it. The I-4 corridor in central Florida is light pollution central, surprisingly enough. I prefer the dark. I had lights removed from utility poles in my backyard when I bought the house – and totally outraged the community who had worked to get them installed as a safety measure. The long and the short of it is that I would not change the existing character of the corridor and I will drive up to McAlpin to see the stars.

  91. I’ve said it before Anthony, and I’ll say it again to everyone here. Light pollution is not a joke. Entire generations of people are raised entirely in cities now, and they have no concept of the majesty of the universe because they do not see it except by NASA’s good graces. The night sky belongs to everyone and being able to see it affects you personally whether you realize it or not

  92. I consider some lighting to be akin to pollution, but it bothers me more in a rural setting… I don’t expect to see the Milky Way in the city.

    A lot of outdoor lighting could be directed downward, for example, not scattered in every direction. For things like store signs, I wouldn’t want to tell store owners to turn off their signs, it’s cheap advertising, or not to light the interior at night for security.

  93. “Darkness works both ways, the bad guys can’t see the people to mug.”

    A half-decent pair of night-vision goggle costs about $300 last I looked. You wouldn’t want to try flying a plane with them, but they’d be fine for mugging.

  94. “250,000 tonnes of C02 a year” costs what in terms of GDP productivity (loss), taxes (loss), input to retirement accounts (loss), balance of trades (loss) ad infinitum (do the French still understand Latin?) or have they lost THAT with their minds too.

    Well on a combative economic playing field, France gave up and seeded the game to their Opponent. Who the is the vilest Opponent to France ? ENGLAND !

    Fools !

  95. If i know my Parisiens, and I do, when le tout Paris decides it doesn’t like this, and I suspect it won’t, then God help the Elysee palace. Still no doubt under some administrative order or another, I imagine the lights will be back on again, if not by Xmas then early in the new year.

    Kindest Regards

  96. Dark skies don’t require all lights to be turned off, just that light be directed to where it is to be used, and not stray onto the property or skies of others. Tuscon, AZ is usually cited as an exemplar of dark skies reforms, I wonder what its night time satellite image looks like.

  97. steve says:
    February 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    good idea. as an amateur astronomer, I’d like to see the night skies again.

    ***********
    Great! So you’re an amateur pursuing a hobby, and you want to endanger the rest of the populace to indulge in it. If black holes had categories the way stars do, you would be an A-class hole, sir.

    *****************

    “Cutting back on light pollution is not a hyper-wacko-eco idea. It is just common sense. It is no more crazy than suggesting that we should close our windows and doors when we want to heat or cool our houses.”

    *********

    It’s NOT common sense. All of us benefit individually when we decide to close our windows and doors, etc. WE save our own money.

    But all of us do not benefit when lights are turned out in urban areas. Certainly I do not pay for other people’s energy expenditures, and nuclear power plants do not “save” any money when their output goes down. In France there’s no carbon footprint argument, no CAGW argument either.

    And if darkness doesn’t affect criminality, where are all high security sites well lit?

    *************

    “The night sky belongs to everyone and being able to see it affects you personally whether you realize it or not”

    GREAT! Lets take a vote on that!!! Instead of making decrees.

    (says I , an amateur astronomer who struggles with light pollution, but does not confuse my desires with sane social policy)

  98. atheok says:
    February 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    My thanks to all the science oriented astronomers visiting this thread!!

    To all of you urbites who dread the dark places in the night, keep your light usage private within your house!

    *************

    Great! Now address your comments to the criminals who take advantage of the dark to rape, murder and rob!!!

  99. Andyj says:
    February 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I’m another amateur astronomer too.
    Look out the aeroplane window when coming to land. Street lights actually do have very effective reflectors. The biggest problem is the light scatter (humidity) and the light bandwidth.

    I don’t fly too often these days, but judging from what I see on the ground on the US….

    Look at the streetlights from an airplane. The lights without a full cutout reflector have a point of light that is direct light from the lamp, surrounded by the much dimmer reflection off the ground. A fixture with a full cutoff reflector doesn’t have that central point. A typical object reflects only about 19%, so those cutoff fixture do result in a lot less waste light upwards.

  100. Some of the ignorant comments here beggar belief. Let’s get one thing straight. Street lighting does not reduce crime. Where lighting curfews have been re-introduced criminality has declined by as much as fifty percent. Most crime occurs in daylight, and lighting everything up encourages criminal elements to behave at night more as they would during the day. Consequently our most crime infested areas are often the most intensively lit.
    Vanity lighting in all its forms is inexcusable. This includes floodlit buildings, monuments, so-called art projects, skybeams and lasers
    Lighting should only be applied sparingly on a needs must basis, where needed, when needed, in the correct amounts and using appropriate 45 degree full cut-off lighting technology. In suburban and residential areas street lighting can be motion operated and subject to 11.pm. curfews. Local authorities are not under any obligation to provide lighting, but if they do, their only obligation is to maintain it in good working order. If people go out after curfew they should use their mukh and take a torch. If you don’t and you have an accident, then it is your fault. When all is said and done, darkness at night is normal.
    France has embarked on a policy that should be adopted everywhere, and the sooner it happens, the better. This not about becoming like North Korea and comments to that effect are puerile to say the least. The negative environmental and medical effects of excessive lighting are now so well established that there is no need for me to elaborate further. A simple Google search will reveal all.

  101. Doug Proctor says:
    February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    And what happens when the first assault happens because it was too dark to see the bad guys ….

    I don’t have any better data than what you brought, but personally, I think bad guys trying to slink around in an area where motion sensing lights come on and follow their every move will have an extremely debilitative effect on their need to hide in the shadows.

    Light when you need it, dark the rest of the time. Makes everyone happy. Except the bad guys, and I don’t hear them complaining. :-)

  102. Love the idea! All my neighbours having fitted insecurity lights make my night time a living hell, now I don’t give a monkey’s about co2 but being woken up by these lights is getting tiresome.
    Switch ‘em off I say.

  103. My property on Mount Cardigan features a view of zero street lights from our yurt. higher up on the hill, there will certainly be some visible, but it’s a pretty good dark area. Probably darker than Stellafane. No crime there at night!

    I don’t know about you defenders of waste light, but I’m hoping for a good appearance of Comet ISON later this year. Even “Great Comets” aren’t all that bright, if you saw Hale-Bopp in 1997, well, they don’t get much brighter than that. Even better for norther hemisphere observers like me, “it will swing just 40 million miles (0.4 astronomical unit) from Earth a few weeks after perihelion, when it will be high in moonless, northern skies after sunset.”

    Comet brightness is awfully hard to predict, but it’s certain it will put on a better show at my yurt than in the City of Lights. Prepare to eat your hearts out. :-)

    http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/skyblog/observingblog/A-Dream-Comet-Heading-Our-Way-171521041.html

  104. That’s the price the government has to pay for having joined with the Greens at the elections. Always better then the greens demand to stop all nuclear reactors. But as with all french laws nobody likes they’ll get ignored on such a massive scale that it’ll pass quietly into history. After an initial few months of harsh control lights will slowly creep back.

    Also most of france see Paris (ile de france) as some weird entity not really belonging to france. Here in the south anyway they choose themselves which of such kind of laws they want to enforce.

    For example, there is a law that says that 10% of each town bigger then x inhabitants must be controlled rent, if not you get fined. My town doesn’t get anywhere near that so they get fined 4 million euros yearly. So they applied for a departmental grant to pay the fine which they got.

  105. This new idea from politics makes no sense. As said before, France electricity is 80% or so nuclear. Such power plants take far more than 8 hours to slow down. As a result, even if you turn off all the lights, it does not reduce the total power produced by such power plants.
    Second point, this law does not seem to apply to street lights…which are the first source of “light pollution” far before shop lights, this law will have no effect at all.
    This law is what people experience every day in France: spectacle politics…no need to make sense politics have to make a show and be on the scene to bump their career.
    By the way, the surrender joke is getting seriously old. Few times an english speaking person felt obliged to inform me french surrender all the time. When I asked them to go out with me to check if it is true… guess what they declined the offer…that’s probably modesty.

  106. It’s not light pollution inside the buildings. That’s where they want the lights off.

    Shops and offices throughout France will be forced to turn off their lights overnight in a bid to fight light pollution, the country’s environment ministry has announced.

    No more partial lighting of business premises so that security patrols can easily see intruders inside the buildings through the windows.

    The “pollution” that the law purports to curtail is that of notional CO2 emissions from the production of a small amount of electricity. Calculated on a soggy beer mat made of hemp using pure assumptions.

    It’s not the light from the street lights.
    It’s not the light from the public places.
    It’s not the light from the palaces.
    It’s not the light from the millions of motor vehicles.
    It’s not the light from anywhere.

    It’s the “CO2 pollution”.

    Activists and politicians with not respect for language or the intelligence of others have decided to hijack yet another term that has a useful meaning and pervert it to their own interpretation. Sadly; some of those who want to enjoy the brilliance of a clear night sky will not recognize that “light pollution” means something else to those who wish to be their masters.

  107. If i know my south of France they’ll wipe their backside with this law. Outside of Ile de France most departments decide for themselves which laws they want to enforce. Since the Riviera is 100% tourist dependent they are not likely to make the towns dead at night.

    That’s what you get for having taken daft Greens in your government. Daft laws that have no public support and therefore doomed to fail.

  108. I don’t get it. Why not? What’s wrong with energy efficiency? It is not “luddite”. This must be one of the worst posts ever on this site.

  109. I like astronomy too and at the age of about 14 i realized that living in a suburb is a bad precondition for my hobby, but instead of raging against the civilization and it’s weird preference of light over darkness i soon realized that i can’t force millions of people in my metropolitan area to change their habits just because of my and maybe a few hundred fellow astronomers’ wish for a dark sky.

    Instead of changing the habits of millions of people for the desire of just a few, wouldn’t it be easier to tell the few to find a dark location, even if it’s a 2 hour trip? Urban astronomers aren’t the only one with the wrong hobby for their residence. Think about all the hunters, mountaineers and surfers in metropolitan areas, who are not calling for a replica of the alps near Paris, a pasture ground for bisons in the NY Central Park or the Pacific coast near Denver.

    Maybe theres a less arrogant solution than the french state directed behavioural dictate. A friend of mine has a remote controlled telescope which he operates from his living room. The telesope is in his backyard and his purpose was to spend more time with his family instead of hours in the cold, but in the age of the internet it wouldn’t make any difference if it was located houndreds of miles away. It requires just a small shelter with a retractable roof, which could be remote controlled too. The problem of leaving your expensive telescope alone in the wildness could be solved by asking a villager if you could place the shelter somewhere in his backyard and pay him 10$ per month for his 20 ft² and maybe another 5$ for using his internet access by WLAN.

  110. As an architect I know it’s rare for exterior lights to shine directly towards the sky. By requiring cutoff fixtures, more poles have to be installed at much greater costs. This means low output led and solar fixture are more cost competive with traditional light systems.

    The only way to make the astronomers truly happy is the North Korean solution. No lights for you! For the rest of us, the light bouncing off the ground is enough to blot out stars.

  111. You can have well lit streets and dark skies – just don’t let the light go upwards. As ever, it is the European method of going about things, and the generally sinister agenda behind it all, that is the problem.

  112. Geez, did anyone actually *read* the article? They want office buildings to turn out the lights when no one is there. They want lights in business displays turned off after 1am, i.e., when no one is going to see them (exceptions for areas where it makes sense). They are not talking about turning off street lights, or indeed turning off any lights that people actually need.

    Light pollution is a mess for anyone who would like to enjoy the sky at night. I am old enough to remember seeing the Milky Way at night; I haven’t seen it for decades. I expect there are lots of people younger than me who have never seen it; anywhere within 100 miles of any major city, you can only see the brightest planets and stars.

    Energy is cheap enough that many businesses leave their buildings lit all night long. Signs and outdoor lights spew their light in all directions. You don’t have to buy the bogus CO2 argument; this is (a) wasteful and (b) creates light pollution, which some of us really do care about.

  113. Surely it should be done or otherwise based on the real information on crime in badly lit areas against the cost in energy of lighting the areas. I do think we should be looking at better designed lights so less is wasted going upwards though.
    To do anything based on CO2 emissions is lunacy when we are so close to the date when they should be taken to task for the utter failure of their predictions. On the expiry of the hundred months prediction all awards should be returned and any money made form climate change subsidies returned to the tax payers who provided it. Rationally we are already past the point when we can be certain they failed or lied to us.

  114. a_random_guy says:
    February 5, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Geez, did anyone actually *read* the article? They want office buildings to turn out the lights when no one is there. They want lights in business displays turned off after 1am, i.e., when no one is going to see them (exceptions for areas where it makes sense). They are not talking about turning off street lights, or indeed turning off any lights that people actually need.

    I read the article. Under the guise of stopping “light pollution” they plan to force people to turn off the lights inside of the buildings, including presumably rooms with no windows … while leaving the street lights turned on …

    How exactly is that going to reduce light pollution?

    MrE says:
    February 4, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I don’t get it. Why not? What’s wrong with energy efficiency? It is not “luddite”. This must be one of the worst posts ever on this site.

    Energy efficiency? Who said anything about that? They are selling this as being about “light pollution”, with the subtitle “French light pollution law is expected to save 250,000 tonnes of C02 a year” … so energy isn’t even mentioned.

    For both of you, the issue is the simultaneously draconian and ineffective nature of the regulations, along with them being just a fig leaf for CO2. I leave a light on inside my piano to keep the moisture out. Under the French law would I have to turn it off?

    It is the bumbling draconian police-state nature of the law that I object to. In high-crime areas businesses often leave lights on, both inside and outside, for security. I’m sorry, but the astronomers are gonna have to suck it up, I’d rather the businesses be secure.

    And of course, there is the the transparent attempt to sell their damned pathological paleocarbophobia under another brand name. This gets old.

    So, you two guys, that’s why the French law sucks.

    w.

    PS—a_random_guy, If it is indeed true that in French cities there’s no one looking at the business signs at one am, I feel sorry for the poor bastards. Times Square at 1 AM is rolling along quite nicely, as is the local bar down the road. In fact, random, if you were to tell the bars and honkeytonks across the US that they have to shut off their lighted signs at one o’clock because the French think it’s a good plan and so do you, I wouldn’t want to be your insurance agent … you sure you think this French farce is a reasonable idea?

  115. Not to understand the importance of after-hours lighting for shops is only possible if you are a Guardian journalist or a Mitterand generation French bureaucrat. It takes a lot of insulation from common experience to achieve that kind of daffiness. Never mind…

    I’ll go out on a limb with this. Look for some serious resistance to green wank in Europe very soon…and expect it to come from the most unlikely source: the French!

    The French can be the lamest conformists – for a while. When Robespierre imposed a new fruitcake religion and philosophy on the common Frenchman, his power seemed absolute, and people submitted slavishly. He even got the Parisians to skip lunch to endure the first Festival of the Supreme Being. (The “skip lunch” bit was his biggest mistake.) Robespierre was headless by the end of the following month, and, a few years later, Napoleon had his crappy religion banned as a cult.

    I say all this because, though I think I’m as good a redneck as any, I have a lot of time for the French. They can go along with more wank than anybody else…but they can toss it off more violently and unexpectedly than anybody else. Mitterand’s bureaucrat hordes are countless as the stars, and that French public teat is enormous…but I have hope! Allez les Bleus!

  116. This year there could be 3 bright comets (hopefully as good as hale-bopp), I’d love to get a great view.
    In the south-east of England it is very hard to get a clear view of the skies due to most of the light produced going where it’s not needed (i.e. the sky).

    Last year we had all our street lights changed to direct the light downward and be more energy efficient and this had the following advantages:

    1) It has the streets are much better lit as the light goes down where it’s needed;
    2) Our bedroom is right next to a street light and it is no longer lit up like a Christmas tree :)
    3) We get a better view of the sky, when it doesn’t rain (very rare since last April);
    4) The local council saves millions of pounds in electricity bills, which means the money can be spent on other services;
    5) The lights themselves have a much better lifetime and thus need less maintenance;
    6) The light is now a white light and you can see much better than with the old lights.

    I don’t give a toss about the CO2 and I’m not aware of any negatives.

    Having seen new technology used it’s good to see that it is a massive improvement.

  117. Oh, goodie! Another dramatic European demonstration of the horrific “Unintended Consequences” of anti-survival legislation enacted by fools, coming right up! Popcorn, anyone?

  118. Of course there’s an element of exageration, it doesn’t seem to refer to street lighting. Call me a luddite, but I wish to add my two cents via 3G and iPad 4.

    Anyone with a proper education shuts off all unnecessary power consuming equipment when leaving a room. I fail to see how keeping lights on from 1 am to 5 am, say, benefits anyone. Plus, I’m paying it!

    Around here there’s a car park for about 30 cars. It has 13 lamp-posts. Is this normal? When I think of it I almost weep imagining my money pouring out of them in the night. I entirely fail to see why must I save energy and money when my tax money is thrown through the window like this.

    There are solutions for intelligent public lighting. Sensors and lighting on demand.

    Most crime is commited in plain daylight (and the most heinous and murderous in investmeNt banking).

    Young people no longer know what a star looks like. Believe me, they’re surprised enough to see the moon. The night sky belongs in science-fiction sceneries. That has personal and cultural impact.

    Most public lighting is innefectual, as badly conceived and installed reflectors spill light upwards.

    And yes, not only do I detest useless waste, but I’m an amateur astronomer too :-)

  119. EJ says:
    February 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm
    Just think if the cavemen chose the sustainable future…. We would still be living in caves!
    ——————-
    lol
    Not drinking at the time.
    cn

  120. philjourdan says:
    February 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm
    @Michael Hart: re: “Ummm… the vast majority of French electricity comes from nuclear power.”

    maybe the french just want to see who glows in the dark?
    ———————————–
    The very next line.
    Now that’s too much.
    very funny
    cn

  121. jbird says:
    February 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm
    I never knew the French were so enLIGHTened. :-)
    ———-
    I believe that’s UNenLIGHTened.
    cn

  122. A good idea, too much artificial light in the wrong place.
    Turn them off after midnight.
    Let’s see the night sky properly again.

  123. I wonder if the press release also mentioned how much money was saved?
    Could the Guardian have ignored that point to lean on CO2 as the justification?
    cn

  124. Light pollution is a valid term. Lights should not shine upwards (why? to illuminate tree’s?) or should not shine into your bedroom, while you are trying to sleep. Saving energy is valid and it could be argued that you are not creating CO2 to some extend.
    This should not institute turning all lights off either. But certain designs of lights have to be replaced with ones which only shine downwards.
    Seeing a light bulb is bad, because it means stray light (wasted light) because it blinds you.
    It could be argued that some lights are not needed and either are dimmed down or turned off.
    How about motion detection?
    We don’t want to make it easier for thiefs to break in our houses either.
    But it is certainly true that many people are not able to see the milkyway, which is a shame.
    Light pollution is real and a term not only used at Wikipedia, but also at National Geographics
    (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/light-pollution/klinkenborg-text).
    Everybody is called to action to contribute!

  125. Sometimes I get a peep into the minds of some of my fellow ‘AGW Catastrophe sceptics’ and I have to wince. What’s wrong with cutting down on light pollution? What’s wrong with us actually being able to look up and see the stars? What’s wrong with cutting down on needless energy costs – especially when it’s a government building paid for by the taxpayer?
    Also….you Americans are always bashing on the French. Leave that to us British,we’ve been doing it longer. Facts: you won your independence thanks to France. The whole 1940 US Army if placed in France would have been swept away just like everyone else. The French were right not to join in the ill advised invasion of Iraq, Freedom Fries – pah!
    Let’s get back to picking apart the lies and misinformation associated with the great Global Warming/Climate Change con job rather than this nonsense.

  126. Do you sleep with the lights turned on? Do you really think the light scares the criminals? I don’t think so, this is just a comforting thought and nothing more. Even so, they will chose the shadows and you will never see them because of the contrast and the glare in your eyes. Light pollution is wasted energy. There is nothing useful or beautiful in light pollution. There are studies which suggest a dramatic impact of light pollution on the ecosystem and humans. besides, all of us who really like looking at the sky (as any scientist and amateur astronomer will do) are horrified to see an orange dome above our heads instead of stars. I usually like the postings here, but not this one. since when have you gone in the other extreme: that we should waste nevertheless as much resources and energy as possible, even if CO2 emissions were not such a big issue related to climate.

  127. France has excess off-peak nuclear power, and uses load following (grey control rods). Smart meter with immersion heater and hot water tank could provide distributed storage which would also tend to reduce peak demand.

  128. One of the joys of going on holiday to a warmer country far from any cities is lying on my back in the pitch dark and seeing the milky way with my naked eyes – oh and browsing a few objects with a pair of powerful tripod mounted binoculars.

    Light pollution is pointless waste. Street lamps in the UK are just ridiculously badly designed. I would say about 20% of the light shines straight up into the sky. What is the point of that? Stick a decent sized reflector on top of them and we would get more effective lighting at ground level, a reduction in the electricity bills as you would need less powerful lights, and reduced light pollution. It is plain common sense.

    I agree that it does not need legislation, just a bit of informed lobbying and education of local politicians to make sensible choices when choosing what lights to use when putting in new or replacement street lights.

  129. If someone pays the bill, it’s immaterial what happens to the energy. There was a Green econut lawproposal to ban terrace heaters for bars/restaurants. Waste of energy to keep people comfortable it seems.
    From switching off lights by law to more extreme measures is only a question of time once the first step has been made. The law can be now easily ‘upgraded’ to encompass other ‘wasteful’ uses. Xmas lighting, using your washing machine during peak load hours the list is endless how the government could invade your privacy and right of selfdetermination under the guise of energy conservation. There is no shortage of energy, there won’t be.

    In Germany at high wind electricity has a negative price, they have to pay their neighbors to please take the overload of their grid. It’s all completely absurd.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-22/windmill-boom-curbs-electric-power-prices.html

    Nice, especially if you have sunk 140 billion euro’s in your windfarms and now have to pay to get the electricity taken of your hands. Not exactly the smartest investment in the world.

    Even more grating when your neighbors start to refuse to accept your electricity:

    http://www.welt.de/wirtschaft/article112279952/Polen-macht-die-Grenze-fuer-deutschen-Strom-dicht.html

    Its a total mess, considering that Germany is in big trouble with their ambitious windprogram
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-offshore-wind-offensive-plagued-by-problems-a-852728.html but they know where to get their money anyway, just up the price nationally http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/10/10/us-germany-energy-renewables-idUKBRE8990PC20121010 so just like Denmark they are now subsidizing the electricity of their neighbors

    The concept of variable energy generation has been conclusively proven to be unworkable. In 10 to 20 years the generators need replacing, but with no revenue coming in they can’t even pay the original investment without supercharging the price.

  130. Find out why an Astronomers torch shines a red light.
    Bright white LED lights gifted to the councils are garbage for clear street vision. Anything towards the blue desensitises the eye creating stronger dark zones so will killer cyclist will come out you from hiding in the shadows. >:-))

    Red creates less eye desensitisation in the dark.

    Rhodopsin (the chemical we use in night vision) is damaged by short wavelengths more than long ones and by bright light more than dim light. So to best preserve night vision you need two things: light as dim as possible, and light as red as possible.

    Tests done decades ago by the US air force established that red cockpit lighting did least damage to pilots’ night vision.

  131. Petrossa…the Econnazi desire to ban patio heaters is new to me but true to my prediction: the reason is utterly certain to be that it is an additional attack on smokers who these heaters have largely been adopted to accomodate in elaborate outside smoking areas (in the UK since smoking was banned inside bars).

    This graphically illustrates how issues of “environment” are being used as a fairly blatant tool of social control. Environmentalism equates to complete intolerance. If such a plan were carried through it would pretty much end the pub and bar industry in the UK which has already been decimated by the smoking ban. I supply services to the pub industry. I can show you astonishing listsof pubs that have closed permanently (becoming houses mainly) since the ban took effect.

    One can only hope that the more people the Econazis alienate the more their grip will lessen.

  132. AndyJ says:
    “February 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm
    @Wamron you incomprehensible, illiterate child.
    You are a cretin. “gedditt”. So, if people here deny you of your pleasures because you say its the right thing to do onto others. That would be ok will it?”

    ACTUALLY….nobody here is “denying” you anything. You admit its just your “pleasure” that is all..and YOU want to deny EVERYONE ELSE their safety, security and…indeed, their “pleasure” (eg, being able to walk in a city at night) to suit you and your selfish affectation (“oh Im an astronomer”). THAT failure of reasoning majkes YOU an idiot! You aren’t an astronomer, you are a tinkering selfish uncaring unempathic fool.

    “Seems uneducated losers like you come on here when mummy has taken your xbox away so you might get some sleep before school..” Only a complete and utter pillock paints a stereotype like that based on a person who doesnt conform to the meritricious AFFECTATIONS of a perceived social role : I am university trained at both Bsc and BA, being both a qualified scientist and an exhibited artist with five books published of which one is an encyclopedic 400,000 word work on my field. I have run my own business accross several countries for twenty years and I do not possess a television All this while AndyJ piffles aroundwith a telescope pretending to be Lord Herschel.

    “People who have a scientific and life interests in the world outside an LCD will count many real world hobbies through their lifetimes as unforgettable experiences that sad little scrotes like you can never comprehend..” Well Ive corrected his pathetic, anal-retentive, miserably shallow prejudices and bigotry already, but I might add that anyone who rates a pathetic pseudo-scientific hobby (playing with atelescope doesnt make anyone an astronomer, just someone locked in a fantasy of something they aren’t) ..cannot have had much by the way of interesting “life interests”. I have travelled to destinations in the US, Australia, India, and Europe since childhood, my siblings include engineers and a scientist with a theorem named after him, I have had sex with women a telescope twiddler who plays with his phallic toy could only dream of (recently I might add and numerously) and I have been a guest on TV shows and on stage in Europe.

    I mention all this and quote Andy j in his lame entirety so as to highlight the way the stereotype-governed narrow little mind of such creatures work. He knows utterly nothing about a topic (me)and rushes to paint a detailed picture (X box etc) based on vivid imaginings in his fetid pent-up pathetic little excuse for a “mind”.

    Some would tell him “get a life”. But I cannot see there is any hope of such a person ever getting a version of a life many would want to suffer.

  133. For street lighting, LED has advantages in efficiency, highly directional light, low maintenance, and improved efficiency at low temperatures. No warm-up time is also an advantage for the interactive lighting described earlier. Also, if the interactive lighting option was used with the highest efficiency red-orange LEDs for the background level of illumination (warm white for active illumination) using similar technology to the L-Prize bulb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L_Prize you should get both improved efficiency, and discrete wavelength(s) for the astronomers to filter.

  134. Bernd Felsche says:
    February 4, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    No more partial lighting of business premises so that security patrols can easily see intruders inside the buildings through the windows.

    Replace always-on internal lighting with motion sensing lights and then revisit that check for intruders. Adding reporting features to the lights and security can hang out in the control room watching the progress until backup arrives.

  135. a_random_guy says:
    February 5, 2013 at 12:17 am

    > Geez, did anyone actually *read* the article?

    Anthony expanded the scope of discussion with:

    > Luboš Motl writes about the issue

    > “Light pollution” is quoted as another justification.

    However, I confess I didn’t read the artice – all the comments on light pollution is a bit of a sore spot with amateur astronomers.

  136. Well done, the French. If only I could get rid of the sodium light glaring all night in my bedroom.
    It used to be nice & dark at night, you could see Orion on stepping outside the front door, then the local council decided to limit the road to 30MPH. and installed streetlighting. Traffic is now *faster*, as drivers can see the road clearly, and there’ve been a couple of accidents from people screaming round the corner without slowing down.
    Must try light pollution complaints. If I had an attic window I’d be shining a laser down on the daylight sensor..

  137. As many enlightened people have stated, opposition is directed at the mandate rather than the idea itself, and correctly so.

  138. …..oh…and given his evident inability to recognise the astronomical facilities and characters I earlier referred to, I suspect I actually know more about astronomy and certainly far more about space science than he does as well!

  139. Nothing wrong with reducing light pollution, which is really just light that is misdirected from where it is actually needed. People don’t realise what they’re missing in terms of the night sky in many of our cities, and with higher density living there does need to be an appreciation of harmful effects of too much stray light on neighbours who have no choice in the matter. There is also medical evidence that darkness provides a better quality sleep.
    The French approach is probably the wrong one however …

  140. I hope and suspect that LED directionality will remove the problem.

    Zurich, Switzerland has an observatory which, today, is essentially unusable due to street lights. It was built back in the days of gas lanterns. With directional lighting, once again it will be usable.

    Like many have pointed out, directional lighting is efficient lighting. I’m all in favor of efficiency when it’s my pocket being picked for taxes to support the lighting costs.

  141. Flagstaff, AZ calls itself a “dark skies” community. All that means is that all of the outdoor lights in the city have to be shielded so that the light is focused down and all street/parking lot lighting used to have to be sulfur bulbs, but recently they must have changed the bulb type requirement allowing LED bulbs (makes it impossible to drive at night when it is snowing).

  142. They just want to turn off the lights in shops, offices and on buildings after 1 am.
    The standard street lights remain on.

  143. @Wamron Sorry, but it happens from time to time (even to me) to make observations with a personal telescope, making use of a privately built observatory in a suburban area and actually have some pretty interesting and useful scientific results, published as articles in major ISI journals. now, as a scientist, you should already know that… It’s not about denying your right to flood your property with lights, it is about decency. I agree that private lighting (except for commercial purpose) should not be regulated as long as it is limited to one’s property and does not affect the neighbours. Instead, the public lighting should be regulated because it is my and your money and everyone else’s money wasted there, and there really are consequences regarding the health of the environment.

  144. Agree w/others — it would be easy just to install lights that cut off any horizontal/upward light. The overall wattage could be greatly reduced & not compromise the ground lighting, while reducing the upward light pollution. But warmers ignore simple solutions.

    An OT rant — why in the heck do newer vehicles have glaring BLUE lights that destroy nite vision? Lights at nite should be RED or yellow. Duh.

  145. Mike said “If they implement this in Canada, Suzuki will need 100′s of female bodyguards all night long.”

    I hear he needs hundreds of them already.

  146. “Where lighting curfews have been re-introduced criminality has declined by as much as fifty percent.”

    Well, yeah. After you turn off the street lights, potential victims don’t risk going there any more.

    • The lights are only being turned off late at night when few people are out anyway. Most crime of the kind we fear occurs in daylight, ergo criminals need light. What lighting does is it encourages the criminal element to behave at night more as they would during the day. Curfews on lighting denies lighting to the criminal element beyond the hours of curfew when most people are in their homes anyway. At the same time they still provide lighting to the general community at a time when they most need it. Lighting curfews were standard practice until 1969 and no-one complained of lack of amenity before then nor were there any wide scale campaigns to keep lights on all night. All-night lighting was only applied on major thoroughfares where there was a need for it. It is not unreasonable to return to this in order to reduce wastage, save money, protect our own health and that of the environment. Motion operated bollard lighting in low density suburbs would be the ideal solution as it will provide sufficient lighting when needed but at the same time will not be intrusive, nor will it have a major impact on the environment. Smart interactive lighting on more busy roads shows some interesting possibilities.

  147. Agree with those who want to focus lighting where it’s needed and will do good vs pissing it away into the sky and blanking out the stars. Shields focusing lighting downward, motion sensor activated lighting et. al. can get us light where we need it vs blasting garish light everywhere. Yes, I am an amateur astronomer.

  148. atheok says:
    February 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    . . . I can not fathom why, in a world of efficient machines we tolerate lighting equipment that wastes so much light in directions where it can not be used or is even blinding. Why stick a hundred watt bulb in an outdoor fixture that then sends a large portion of that wattage into space?

    I think the answer is, “Because we can”—or at least, “Because we could.” The twentieth century saw an explosion of technical progress, due almost entirely to the availability of cheap, plentiful electricity. The brilliantly-lit cities, with flamboyant signage and shining skylines reflected the exuberance of the possible, a celebration of the spectacular ascent from the dim days of flickering hearths and candles to the ability to turn the night into day. It wasn’t long ago that Popular Science and like publications were suggesting orbiting mirrors that could illuminate cities all night long.

    Glorious nighttime skylines are a wonder to behold, as are teaming elevated expressways, giant malls and offices, and all the rest of the modern world it took only a century to create. But of course with youthful exuberance comes excess, and carelessness, waste, detritus, and pollution. We’ve had to retrench a little bit and clean up our air, waterways, septic systems and trash middens. It’s only common sense not to foul your nest, but sometimes common sense takes a little while to mature. And then we have to be careful not to err with an excess of caution. There are neo-Luddites who in the name of an imaginary ‘sustainability’ would have us return to campfires and whale oil—oh, but let’s not harm the whales.

    The term ‘light pollution’ is almost as misleading as the factitious ‘carbon pollution’. Light is as positive as ‘carbon’ [dioxide] really is. But there can be detriments to too much light, in too many of the wrong places. What’s needed are not draconian solutions: not turning off the streelights, nor darkening the buildings, nor unenforceable curfews. What’s needed is a little Common Sense: direct the street and security lights down; use color temperatures (reddish?) that reduce dispersion and encourage normal night vision; make it easy for owners of big buildings to reduce lighting when it’s not needed (sensors, timers, dimmers, etc.), and so on.

    Like many who frequent this board, I am quite sure that cheap, plentiful electricity is the key, not only to our own progress, but to the development of the so-called ‘third world’. We must be careful not to fall prey to the eco-loons who would return us to a new Dark Age. We must keep lighting up the world, but let’s do it responsibly. Not all of us are astronomers, amateurs or professionals (and by the way, amateur astronomers are credited with many important discoveries, even in the modern age), but like many, I remember lying on the lawn in the countryside outside Washington, DC, gazing up at the Milky Way, and dreaming of journeying to the nearest star. The suburbs have encrouched upon that countryside now, and a pale haze obscures the night sky. It wouldn’t hurt to help bring that back, for the next generation of dreamers.

    Wamron says:
    February 5, 2013 at 4:40 am

    To heck with your resume. Just tell us more about those women.

    /Mr Lynn

  149. ***
    TLM says:
    February 5, 2013 at 2:57 am

    One of the joys of going on holiday to a warmer country far from any cities is lying on my back in the pitch dark and seeing the milky way with my naked eyes – oh and browsing a few objects with a pair of powerful tripod mounted binoculars.
    ***

    As you do that, imagine that the ground is vertical or facing downward, and you are looking into a 3-D view of the edge of a gigantic spiral galaxy….

  150. Radu writes: I agree that private lighting (except for commercial purpose) should not be regulated as long as it is limited to one’s property and does not affect the neighbors.

    Indeed, but that is the point, isn’t it? If you can see your neighbor’s lights, they are not limited to their property. I have a neighbor with a security light on a motion sensor. Something like a 500w halogen. Every passing cat sets it off. Businesses are even worse about this than most private people, because the cost of lighting doesn’t even make a blip on their balance sheets. Public street lighting is worse than most businesses, because people think it’s for the public good. I would happily do without the street lights on our street: the sense of security they provide is entirely false; they do more to attract unwanted visitors than to repel them.

    There is a place for regulation here, and perhaps it is exactly what Radu writes: If your lighting impinges on someone else’s eyeballs, it is subject to regulation. Light pollution is really no different from noise pollution; I have no more desire to see your security light than to hear your music.

  151. Re Radu:
    @Radu says:
    February 5, 2013 at 7:07 am
    “Wamron Sorry, but it happens from time to time (even to me) to make observations with a personal telescope, making use of a privately built observatory in a suburban area and actually have some pretty interesting and useful scientific results, published as articles in major ISI journals. now, as a scientist, you should already know that… It’s not about denying your right to flood your property with lights, it is about decency. I agree that private lighting (except for commercial purpose) should not be regulated as long as it is limited to one’s property and does not affect the neighbours. Instead, the public lighting should be regulated because it is my and your money and everyone else’s money wasted there, and there really are consequences regarding the health of the environment.”

    First up Radu you do surely realise I was provoked by being stereotyped in such a dumbass way. Giving some of someones medicine back doesnt hurt.

    I am well aware that amateur astronomers have conducted original research and indeed it was often discussed on The Sky at Night in my youth. But this discussion…if you return to the heading article…is actually not about “decency” as you say…its about imposing ideologically driven mores on an entire nation by force of the state. Where is the decency in that? You say you don’t approve that BUT, that is (in the case of France) what we are actually discussing, not decency or good practice, the imposition of state fiat.

    The problem with your stance and that of other amateur astronomers who have commented here…other than the cleartly execrable AndyJ who we neednt tar other astronomers by association with…is two-fold. Firstly you declare having published research…so clearly the need to oppress others for the sake of it does not exist. Secondly it is arrogance of the highest self-cntred degree to think that millions of people should adjust their lives to accomodate the pastimes of a handful. It is inconceiveable that the merits of amateur astronomical research would ever weigh fairly in the balance with the basic safety and security needs of the general population. To claim it does literally beggars belief. I say that notwithstanding my knowledge that amateurs are part of the network alert to NEOs. There is no response to a NEO anyway so whats the point?

    As for “now, as a scientist, you should already know that… ” I am left wondering what I should know as the sentence either isnt complete or its second part is non-sequiter.

    I will also admit I was harsh in my early comments on this thread. But some things make me angry. If you cant amplify the debate by expressing that, without ad hominem, personal attack or abuse, online then whats the point?

  152. …I might add, Radu, if you think this French move and its Green motivation really has anything to do with light pollution rather than the imposition of an ideology you are surely naive.

  153. I support requiring street lights that use reflectors in “caps” to aim all the light down on streets and sidewalks where we need it for safety, instead of wasting it on the night sky (or sideways, pouring in our bedroom windows and keeping the family awake). These use less energy – especially the newest LED designs – while putting more light where we need it. Win-Win

  154. @Lincoln Hashew:
    “Curfews on lighting denies lighting to the criminal element beyond the hours of curfew when most people are in their homes ”
    WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY and who does he think he is that a nation should be subjected to a CURFEW for his benefit? His word…CURFEW! Utterly unimaginable arrogance from a fool who thinks “most people” are tucked up in bed because he is. No dear, half the working population is at work when you are in bed and they have to get to and from home like day-workers.

  155. Legislation isn’t the only answer to light pollution problems. Brian Greer, Central Ohio representative for the Ohio Light Pollution Advisory Council, says that education is just as important, if not more so. “There are some special situations where regulation is the only fix,” he says. “But the vast majority of bad lighting is simply the result of not knowing any better.” Simple actions like replacing old bulbs and fixtures with more efficient and better-designed ones can make a big difference in preserving the night sky.

  156. What next a dusk curfew?

    If I recall correctly if you move in France you have to report your new address to the police…

  157. elftone says:
    February 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Screw the CO2 – I can’t stand the waste (something my parents drilled into me – don’t waste anything) of poorly-designed lighting, and the fact that the sky where I live is orange. I’m sorry, Anthony, but “We’ve come so far to rid ourselves of the dark…” doesn’t ring true….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You are obviously not female. It took me years to get over the ‘Women do not go out at night unescorted” drilling from my parents. Lighted shopping areas have been a major instrument of freedom for women. Of course concealed carry also helps.

  158. Doug Huffman says:
    February 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm
    I just came in from a hot tub naked-eye astronomy session, here in Lake Michigan aboard my little Island ship of state with ~400 souls this snowbird season. The sky is utterly dark and full of hard diamonds. …….Now the nights are approaching the coldest of the year and the cottage pops and groans as the deck boards freeze. The Niagara Escarpment, twenty-five feet from the window, talks too as the ice shatters rocks.

    Niiiiiice! Thanks Doug!
    You led me back to my youth in central Wisconsin, skating the black ice of Big Green Lake on moonless and clear, cold winters nights! The Milky Way was a dazzling reality in the heavens above us, not just an inadequately descriptive phrase from some staid and dusty astronomy tome. In the long stretches of bare, smooth ice that alternated with low running snow drifts, the overhead display was mirrored in the polished ice at our feet! It was as if we skated through the void!!!

    Thanks sooo much, for the memories!
    MtK

  159. I very much enjoy stepping out my front or back door and seeing the Milky Way in all its glory, and stars… I love seeing the stars. One of the many reasons I despise the notion of living in or near a city is the lack of a night sky.

    I don’t approve of the French plan, though I do sypathize with a desire to see the sky at night (and not just for astronomers).

  160. Pm says:
    February 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

    First comment is hateful stupid and should be removed.

    We have a curious theory of moderation on this blog, preferring a lighter hand than some. It’s always a judgement call, of course. However, picking all of the spitballs off of the wall soon gets tiresome. There are millions of comments on this site …

    Part of the problem is, where do you draw the line? At one extreme you could chop out everything that isn’t verifiable dispassionate scientific fact … but where’s the fun in that? People don’t want to read that. At the other extreme, no moderators, and it becomes a dog-fight two posts out of three.

    Like I said, we tend to the light moderation end of things. In part, this is because one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, one man’s joke is another man’s insult. For example, “I’m not an ‘X’ but in your case I’ll make an exception” is a stock line for comedians, with perhaps the best known example being “I never forget a face … but in your case I’ll make an exception”.

    And because it is a stock comedy phrase, I am forced to the assumption that the man said it in jest. Now, I know that it’s not politically correct to joke about ethnicities, but I think that’s just lame. We all joke about each other all the time, get over it, because in fact ethnicities do have characteristics. If I want my watch fixed, I’ll damn well go to Switzerland rather than Senegal. Nothing against Senegal, I’d return there in a heartbeat, it’s a great place … but they are not globally celebrated for building precision instruments, and there’s a reason for that.

    Here’s an example.

    Heaven Is Where:

    The French are the chefs
    The Italians are the lovers
    The British are the police
    The Germans are the mechanics
    And the Swiss make everything run on time

    Hell is Where:

    The British are the chefs
    The Swiss are the lovers
    The French are the mechanics
    The Italians make everything run on time
    And the Germans are the police

    That joke is funny, specifically because of the differences in the ethnicities. It is also 100% politically incorrect, which as a 100% politically incorrect guy, meets with my 100% approval.

    But I digress. My point is that what you are horrified by and find “hateful stupid”, I see as a not particularly funny or original attempt at humor, but not malicious or hateful at all, and I breeze on past it without a second thought.

    And it is precisely that difference of opinion, and the inability to say that you or I are right, that leads us to moderate lightly.

    And finally, in the mix, I think it’s better that 10 guilty go free than one innocent be unjustly punished … none of us at WUWT are fans of censorship, it is a harsh punishment, particularly for what may only be misplaced humor, and so we dole it out lightly.

    Best regards,

    w.

  161. Patricia says:
    February 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I support requiring street lights that use reflectors in “caps” to aim all the light down on streets and sidewalks where we need it for safety, instead of wasting it on the night sky (or sideways, pouring in our bedroom windows and keeping the family awake). These use less energy – especially the newest LED designs – while putting more light where we need it. Win-Win

    And the beauty part is, the reflectors save the city money, because all the light is getting used, so the “invisible hand” will take care of at least part of the problem.

    w.

  162. Wamron says:
    February 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm
    To the whining “astronomers” on here…You are AMATEURS gettit!
    And this is OPTICAL “astronomy” you are fumbling with in your backyards, in the 21st Century.

    Wamron, amateur astronomers have a great advantage over professional astronomers, which is spotting supernova from their backyards with their optical telescopes, amateurs often spot comets and track asteroids and plot their orbits all from their backyard, not to mention amateurs have discovered exoplanets from their backyards. I would hazard a guess and say a large percentage of the readers of watts up with that are amateur astronomers, they are people who work in science or have a interest in the sciences, and the amateur astronomer has a niche in one of the few remaining sciences where one can be an amateur and still generate lots of new discoveries.

  163. nc says:
    February 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I now this is about building lights but here is an interesting read, http://www.britastro.org/dark-skies/crime.html
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That information comes from by a group who want the lights shut off.

    Here is the other view point which seems to me to be much more unbiased. Like everything else it seems to be easy to cherry pick the study that shows what you want it to show. This report looks at several different studies across the USA and also in the UK.

    Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Response Guides Series
    This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 2006-CK-WX-K003 by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice…..

    What Do Scientific Evaluations Show?
    The discussion above shows just how complicated it can be to evaluate the effects of improved street lighting. The evaluation must consider the effects of improved lighting on crimes in daylight hours as well as in darkness. It must look for both increases and reductions in crime; and not just for the relit area, but also for a comparable control area where the lighting has not been improved. It must examine the effect of better lighting on different kinds of crime, because its effect is not consistent for all types of crime. And it must examine not just the displacement of crime to nearby areas but also the possible diffusion of benefits. Finally, the evaluation should consider other possible benefits of improved lighting, such as reduced fear.

    If this were not enough, the most recent review of lighting studies5 has also noted the following:

    The effects of improved street lighting are likely to vary in different conditions. In particular, they are likely to be greater if the existing lighting is poor and if the improvement in lighting is considerable. They may vary according to characteristics of the area or the residents, the design of the area, the design of the lighting, and the places that are illuminated. For example, improved lighting may increase community confidence only in relatively stable homogeneous communities, not in areas with a heterogeneous population mix and high residential mobility. The effects of improved lighting may also interact with other environmental improvements, such as closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras or security patrols.

    This means that studies should clearly describe the nature and intensity of the improvements in lighting, the general neighborhood conditions, and any other contemporaneous crime-prevention measures. Indeed, a consistent finding of problem-oriented policing projects is that a smart mix of responses, tailored to the situation, produces the best results.

    Few if any published studies meet all these evaluation requirements; indeed, it would be very difficult to do so. The principal question examined in most published evaluations is whether street lighting reduces crime at night. This was the focus of eight studies undertaken in the United States, seven of them during the 1970s (see Table 1).

    Table 1: Eight Street Lighting Evaluations in the United States.§
    [SEE Sec1:12 for full chart, I shorten to fit ~ GC]

    Intervention..Increase……..Other………….Outcome……………….Effect
    …….Area…. in Lighting…..Intervention……..Measure……………………..
    _______________________________________________________
    City center…4 times……….None…….. Crime (robbery…Desirable effect;
    ………………………………………… assault, and burglary)..no displacement
    _______________________________________________________
    Residential &…7 times……None…….. Crime (property… Desirable effect;
    commercial area………………… person categories).. some displacement
    ________________________________________________________
    Residential…2 times………None……. Crime (robbery…… Null effect; no
    (high crime)………………………….. assault, and burglary)… displacement
    ________________________________________________________
    Residential &…No Info….None……..Crime (violent and….Desirable effect
    commercial area………………………… property offenses)….. (for violence);
    …………………………………………………………………………some displacement
    __________________________________________________________
    Residential… No Info……None………Crime (violent and……Null effect; no
    ………………………………………………….property offenses)….. displacement
    __________________________________________________________
    Residential &…No Info…None………Crime (burglary,……….Null effect; no
    commercial area………………………. vehicle theft, and……….displacement
    ……………………………………………………………assault)
    ___________________________________________________________
    Residential…..3 times…..None………Crime (total)……………….Desirable
    neighborhood…………………………………………………………effect; possible
    ……………………………………………………………………………….displacement
    _____________________________________________________________
    Residential..No Info…….Police…….Calls for service………….Null effect; no
    neighborhood…………..initiatives… (violent and property……..displacement
    ………………………………………………………….crime)
    _____________________________________________________________
    Although four of these studies found desirable effects from improved lighting, the others did not; a review published by the U.S. Department of Justice of the seven studies undertaken in the 1970s concluded that improved lighting was not an effective means of preventing crime.§ However, three more recent studies published in the United Kingdom (see Table 2) found significant reductions in crime both in daylight and at nighttime, with no apparent displacement and in one case, some diffusion of benefit…..
    TABLE…
    A recent authoritative review, which used a well-established methodology to combine the results of all the studies from the United States and the United Kingdom, concluded that improved street lighting led to a “21 percent decrease in crime compared with comparable control areas.”§ Reductions in crime of this amount are worthwhile but, of course, there is no guarantee that better lighting will reduce crime in your neighborhood.

    The review could not determine whether these improvements were the result of situational deterrence or improved community pride and cohesion. The review concluded that improved street lighting had a larger effect on property crimes than on violent crimes, but offered no explanation for this result. More detailed research showing the effect on specific types of property crime and violent offenses is needed.…..

  164. DARN, sorry the chart did not translate from the little square we type in to the post.

    [Reply: Just post the link. — mod.]

  165. I should probably add I have no problem with motion detector lights as an option but I think government should BUTT OUT! If they want less light pollution they should start with all the lighting the government controls first hand, street lighting, government offices… instead of going after business.

    To me this sounds like a real lazy arse stunt to mollify a vocal minority group and not a well thought out move.

  166. Light Pollution != Light.

    Light pollution may be interpreted by green zealots as any light at all, but to most people its lights spilling light where it does no good, such as straight up into the clouds.

  167. This account sounds like HORS 251 and the work of Farrington and Painter, both of which have been discredited.

  168. “Reddi Kilowatt says: February 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm
    atheok says:
    February 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm
    My thanks to all the science oriented astronomers visiting this thread!!
    To all of you urbites who dread the dark places in the night, keep your light usage private within your house!
    ************
    Great! Now address your comments to the criminals who take advantage of the dark to rape, murder and rob!!!

    Bit of a dim bulb response there reddi kilowhat? eh? Didn’t read my whole post. Nor pick up the following post where I pointed out that the “sarc /sarc” tags went missing. Not that any of my comment was true sarcasm… Are you sure your plugging the right things into your electrical outlets?

    Now Gail Combs has published above several rough study results; sadly without links to the actual studies themselves where one can determine if objective science was used. But that’s another point entirely.

    I grew up in what is considered a bad neighborhood. Not any shakes on the real toughs in the inner cities, but still shunned locally. Only I didn’t know it, nor did most of my friends. Hey we lived there, didn’t everyone have this kind of life?

    In daylight, one could see the gang hanging on the corner that was impossible to avoid. They and we knew for several hundred yards that people were going to pass by them. Sometimes it’s just a quick “Hey!”; other times it’s a 10-15 minute disastrous encounter where if you’re lucky you get to reach your destination. Not lucky, it’s a trip back home or to a closer friends house for some doctoring.

    I never carried a wallet or valuables till my mid twenties and miles from where I lived as a teen. People in my neighborhood only ever carried the money they needed that day and sometimes your ID if the cops were being hard nosed about identifications. Even in the sixties, the police could radio back your name and address and quickly get a response back with a quite accurate description inclusing birthmarks, tattoos and known alias’s. That’s how I found out my family given nick name was an alias. Every kid I knew cheered when some nut crawled through the police station’s parking lot and scraped the ‘PO’ off of the ‘POLICE’ insignia on their cars; both sides front and back. We had ‘LICE’ patrolling for weeks; bad tempered about the topic too. Police as ‘them’ were hated; police as the cop who lived down the street was know and often loved, maybe not trusted completely, but loved as a good guy. Some kids never figured that part out.

    Here’s the rub. We almost never had the same trouble at night. You always planned for the gang to be at certain hangouts and you shaded by. If they saw you and yelled, it was usually easy to outrun them then; especially if you knew where the guard dogs were chained. First ones past are usually safe; those after, well it’s kind of fun.

    At night it was far more of a problem when a car’s headlights blinded you and the cars would play a kind of tag. It’s a little harder to outrun hoods in a car and requires heading across yards. Watch out for the clotheslines!

    Still all of this is beyond the point. The point is wasting light! When you flush a toilet you don’t slop water and stuff all over the floor, do you? Yeah it’s an unpleasant way to think of a toilet’s function; but the beauty of it is how efficient a toilet is. Even before the eco-nuts went ranting about how water toilets can use.

    Go ahead and light your dang streets! Light your yard, floodlight your neighbor’s yard; just don’t send half of the light into the air uselessly!

    Gail Combs and Reddi watt; I have my doubts about the so called positive anticrime effects of brightly lit streets. Effective police patrols and involved neighbors are very effective at controlling crime. How one differentiates the effects of one from the other or even if the toughs knew to lay low for awhile to truly make a genuine case study of the topic, I do not know. This becomes a very gray psychological area where people like Lewpyandowski thrive. Science goes lacking and subjective opinions are rife.

    Gail, I fully support your right to self defense! Light all the streets you want; just don’t support inefficient lighting. A photon can travel forever in a vacuum, kind of useless don’t you think sending all those photons everywhere but where they’re needed. Make sure you carry a surefire or other similar bright LED light so you can identify potential troublemakers.

    When you attend your local ordinance meetings about light installations and the big proponent of their lighting selection makes a claim about how bright the lights are; ask what percentage of the light is usable at street level…

  169. I have not read the comments so this may be a duplication.

    The French, beacuse of their nuclear power, have the lowest emissions of CO2 per capita in Europe. Since most of their elecriticy comes from nuclear, not sure what the savings in CO2 emissions will be. The figure quoted may be an exageration.

    If there are more road traffic deaths, or more crime, I wonder whether legal proceedings can be pursued against these public servants for what is a foreseeable outcome of this policy change.

  170. Sorry, OT, but interesting to see on the night satellite image so much artificial light off the east coast of South Korea. Is the Korean fishing fleet warming the sea?

  171. This post and the endless wittering on that’s followed it is a real disappointment.
    What’s wrong with turning off the lights in empty shops and offices? I wonder whether common sense might also apply to wasting energy lighting up billboards after 1am or shining lights onto the side of buildings and bridges for ‘aesthetic purposes’ all night.
    Pointless references to carbon dioxide aside, saving energy by turning off un-needed lights is a belated onset of common sense; the article makes no reference at all to turning off streetlights, so the wailing and gnashing of teeth over imagined muggings in the imaginary darkened streets is every bit as demented as the wailing and gnashing of teeth over imagined consequences of an imagined 2 degree temperature gain.
    Does everyone contributing here leave every light on in their house 24 hours a day just to irritate pesky astronomers?
    The comments here read like the dedicated non-thinker cheer-leader’s comments I expect to read when the Guardian or SkS goes skeptic bashing.
    Thinking people don’t have to lash out negatively at every proposal that comes with a claimed ‘ecofriendly’ tag; especially when they actually make sense for once.

  172. @richard verney
    About 80% of French electricity is nuclear, the rest is from other non-fossil sources. A fraction (like 2%) is from fossil fuel.
    This lights-off is solely done to throw a bone to the Green dogmatics they shared the electionlist with since what the Green econuts really want is that france shuts down all nuclear reactors.
    Why is beyond me, but Green econuts don’t deal with reason, only with dogmas and fantasies.

    As with all laws the french population don’t like it’ll be largely ignored and is totally symbolic.

  173. Erny72 says:
    February 6, 2013 at 9:16 am

    This post and the endless wittering on that’s followed it is a real disappointment.
    What’s wrong with turning off the lights in empty shops and offices? I wonder whether common sense might also apply to wasting energy lighting up billboards after 1am or shining lights onto the side of buildings and bridges for ‘aesthetic purposes’ all night.

    Yeah, those goddam “aesthetic purposes”, I hate them too, I wouldn’t let one single lumen of light get used for something frivolous like that …

    Pointless references to carbon dioxide aside, saving energy by turning off un-needed lights is a belated onset of common sense; the article makes no reference at all to turning off streetlights, so the wailing and gnashing of teeth over imagined muggings in the imaginary darkened streets is every bit as demented as the wailing and gnashing of teeth over imagined consequences of an imagined 2 degree temperature gain.

    Someone comes in and wants to pass a law based on CO2, and you mumble about “pointless references to CO2 aside”? Miss the point much? I love folks like you. You’re all too willing to tell everyone in the country how to live their lives.

    Does everyone contributing here leave every light on in their house 24 hours a day just to irritate pesky astronomers?
    The comments here read like the dedicated non-thinker cheer-leader’s comments I expect to read when the Guardian or SkS goes skeptic bashing.
    Thinking people don’t have to lash out negatively at every proposal that comes with a claimed ‘ecofriendly’ tag; especially when they actually make sense for once.

    Clearly you don’t understand the issue at issue here. Let me give you a parallel example.

    Erny, suppose someone came into your house where you were eating your eggs for breakfast and said “We’re from the nutrition police, and we’ve passed a law. No eggs for breakfast, it’s too high in cholesterol”. I imaging that like most folks, you would be extremely upset, I imagine that you would wax wroth and say bad words at the people trying to make your breakfast illegal, and you might end up charged with “Assault with a Spatula”.

    How would you feel if I came up to you at that point and said “Whats wrong with eating oatmeal for breakfast? Pointless references to eggs aside, improving your nutrition by not eating eggs is a belated onset of common sense.”?

    I rather suspect at that point that you would think I was an officious, clueless wanker who hadn’t thought things through, but despite not having any idea what was going on, I was willing to make stupid suggestions to an angry man despite not understanding the situation … and I’d likely end up with a spatula-print on the side of my face, and deservedly so.

    Whether or not oatmeal might be good for your breakfast is not the point, Etsy. The point is the use of police power to control what you eat for breakfast. The point is, if I think my building is beautiful and I want to light it at night, SO FREAKIN’ WHAT?. What business is it of yours how I spend my money? How about if I decide that you having electricity at your house is “wasting energy”, because the light shining out of your living room window at night keeps my dog awake? How is that any less valid reasoning than yours?

    What is it with liberals and totalitarian tendencies? Every problem you imagine, you want to pass a law against it. I used to think it was Puritans who were terrified that somewhere, someone was having fun and it was the Puritan’s business to stop them … but now it seems that liberals like you want to take over the position of sticking your noses into peoples enjoyment.

    The problem is, you’re not doing it all that well, you’re falling down on the job. For example, is a huge waste of electricity for say the “bumper cars” in the boardwalk arcades, the ones the kids love to ride, and you are just the kind of prick who would take them away from the kids because you, Erny number 72, a man without even a name, have decided what is “wasting energy”. But how come you’re not protesting the bumper cars? Because everyone knows it’s Erny’s job to decide what is “aesthetic” and what isn’t, and by god if it isn’t aesthetic, nobody better try lighting it up after dark …

    I swear, there’s no need to parody you officious jerkwagons, you do such a great job of it yourselves. You want to set your self up as arbiter of what can be lit at night based on your twisted sick idea of what is aesthetic and what is worthwhile?

    Spare me. You are a hilarious, puffed up prig, so inflated with your perceived self worth that you’ve lost all contact with the ground. You want to save energy? Unplug your computer, there’s a good fellow, it’s a massive energy-hog, and your energy savings will be much appreciated …

    w.

  174. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Whether or not oatmeal might be good for your breakfast is not the point, Etsy. The point is the use of police power to control what you eat for breakfast. The point is, if I think my building is beautiful and I want to light it at night, SO FREAKIN’ WHAT?…
    —————–
    Thunderous applause from behind my screen and keyboard. THANK YOU WILLIS!

  175. Not to sidetrack to much, Willis, but the ‘breakfast police’ exists already in the form of insurers. Health insurance is less expensive if you are thin, life insurance too.

  176. Lord, have all the misinformed of this world attached themselves to this thread? Please make these read of the, “Circadian Disruption”, they call light pollution. So the ignorant may be enlightened, or, change them into the turkeys that they are.

  177. Especially since the french law mostly concern officebuildings which are actually only the officebuildings in Paris, La Defense, which is one huge area with only pompous officeblocks.

    That’s why the law came about, since the ‘Green’ members of parliament only see Paris and imagine that the rest of France can afford to leave their lights on all the time.
    That’s a;ways the problem with Greenies, they have a very narrow vision of reality.

  178. Willis,
    I’m not the thought police, a liberal, nor missing the point; this law may have been unveiled with the predictable gloating about imagined CO2 emmission reductions (which we can agree IS a pointless reference given the percentage of France’s electricity generated by CO2 emission free nuclear), but the point of it is to reduce energy cosumption and in that respect I still don’t have a problem with it. Turning off lights that aren’t burning out of necessity makes perfect sense.
    Exterior lighting of buildings; “…so freakin’ what?” Well aside from being a waste; playing bagpipes in your street at 3am, so freakin’ what?
    Mandating common sense by a non-invasive law requiring office and shop front lights to be extinguished after close of business might appear draconian to your good self (and others particularly when illustrated with a frivolous example of breakfast police), but do you feel strongly that the introduction of laws forbidding littering are a draconian loss of your basic human rights?
    Do you also then believe that including a minimal deposit on cans or bottles in the purchase cost of a drink represents an invasion of civil liberties? Both are government policies I grew up with in South Australia and continue to ‘suffer’ in Norway and effective in reducing pollution and encouraging recycling – I’m no beardy wierdy, but don’t have a problem with it.
    If you do have a problem and feel the need to ask Where do you draw the line?’ on the ballot sheet if the incumbents go too far for you.

  179. Erny72 says:
    February 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

    ———————–
    Erny,

    Forcing private sector to consume less power by law is one argument, protecting people from bagpipe players on the street at 3 AM is in principle a separate one. Although we can only approximate what is ideal and right in a code of laws, merely because our system is imperfect, is no reason to allow majority tyranny or majority whim to rule.
    In my view, the issue in both cases is property. Case 1: If it’s my property, and my power bill, then nobody has any business forcing me by law to turn my lights off. This is a big one, because it sets an extremely bad precedent; the government has no business disposing of my property unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Case 2: On my property, if I can’t hear myself think because some fool is playing bagpipes on the corner, once again my property rights need protection. It can be hard to draw the lines, and I doubt they can be drawn perfectly, but that just makes it all the more important to pay attention to them.
    Government needs to protect each of us from each other. To do that, in large part government needs to protect our property from each other and from itself.

  180. Hear,Hear!
    Exactly my thoughts. My electricity, i pay for it, i’ll do with it what i want. If the governement itself wants to switch of it’s own buildings, by all means because that’s our money.

  181. Light and noise can both trespass onto other property imposing costs (in economics they are externalities) on others. I acknowledge a role for government or courts in keeping such trespass to reasonable levels. I agree that government shouldn’t be one of the worse offenders, and that whether lights are on or not shouldn’t be regulated beyond the extent to which there is trespass. Regulations should only require the light to be properly shielded and directed. As to crime and security, I figure in the dark, the advantage goes to those familiar with the territory, so less light means more security to me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to see the Milky Way from our cities!

  182. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pmThe point is, if I think my building is beautiful and I want to light it at night, SO FREAKIN’ WHAT?.

    Willis, no building on this planet is more beautiful than the stars at night, I had a neighbour like you once, liked lighting his house up like it was christmas every night, So I installed an outdoor sound system to enhance to beauty of my house at night. He got the point very soon.

  183. Bravo, Eimear ! I don’t give a rats cloaca about CO2, but I certainly don’t understand why so many of us CO2 skeptics seem to fall into the anti-everything environmental camp. What’s so hard to understand about light shields?

    BTW, the idiots who insist on telling people to turn off the lights in BUILDINGS? In the winter, at least, the lights are just as efficient as most heaters in heating the building. so they are not “saving” anything. In winter. In fact, lights are MORE efficient than things like (most) electric central heating systems.

  184. Eimear says:
    February 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pmThe point is, if I think my building is beautiful and I want to light it at night, SO FREAKIN’ WHAT?.

    Willis, no building on this planet is more beautiful than the stars at night, I had a neighbour like you once, liked lighting his house up like it was christmas every night, So I installed an outdoor sound system to enhance to beauty of my house at night. He got the point very soon.

    My friend, that’s why I live in the forest … where I can step outside right now and see Orion and all of its glory. I’m a navigator, I love the stars just like you do.

    malco says:
    February 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Bravo, Eimear ! I don’t give a rats cloaca about CO2, but I certainly don’t understand why so many of us CO2 skeptics seem to fall into the anti-everything environmental camp. What’s so hard to understand about light shields?

    Malco, the problem (as I said above) is not the good ideas. You have what you like, as do I. And I am wildly pro-environment, have been for years.

    The problem is people passing laws to make their neighbors obey their good ideas. At some point, to me that goes too far. If you like the darkness, do what I did, move to where it’s dark. Don’t move next to the airport and then bitch about the noise from the planes. It’s not all that complex to me.

    I said above, I support light shields for the street lights. But I don’t support someone passing laws to make me obey whatever whimsical ideas they have today. That’s the norm here in California … and it sucks. Bad.

    w.

    • Nice to be able to move to dark place if you can. But not everyone is able or wealthy enough to do that. Does that mean if you live in an urban neighbourhood that you have got to tolerate all the light pollution others churn out, plus that discharged by municipal lighting authorities that think they are creating a safer environment for us all while all the time they are feathering their own nests? Some form of legislation is obviously necessary to cut the abuse because people will not self regulate. Any casual glance at NASA images of the Earth at night will reveal that the current status quo has gone beyond a joke.

  185. Yeah, Lincon, life in a community is a bitch. If only lived by your rules things would be much better. Everyone a candle, and lights out at sundown.

    • Petrossa, did I say that? I don’t think so. Lighting should only be applied sparingly, on a needs must basis, where needed, when needed, in the correct amounts and using appropriate technology. This does not mean switching off every light or emulating North Korea. The technology is around to achieve this now, but in my part of the world we see precious little of it. Lighting is abused at every turn. We can achieve reduced light intrusion without loss of amenity if the will is there. Unfortunately there are vested business interests dependent on bad and excessive lighting, and this needs to be reined in. I suggest you research out the options.

  186. Lincon Hashew says:
    February 10, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Nice to be able to move to dark place if you can. But not everyone is able or wealthy enough to do that. Does that mean if you live in an urban neighbourhood that you have got to tolerate all the light pollution others churn out, plus that discharged by municipal lighting authorities that think they are creating a safer environment for us all while all the time they are feathering their own nests? Some form of legislation is obviously necessary to cut the abuse because people will not self regulate. Any casual glance at NASA images of the Earth at night will reveal that the current status quo has gone beyond a joke.

    Thanks, Lincon. I agree with much of what you say, but not for the reason you suggest. Everyone is able to move. Period. Lots of people say that they are unable to move. If they say so, they are indeed unable to move. I read of people “trapped” in the poor pockets of West Virginia … trapped? This is America, there’s no internal travel documents, get up and move. If you say you are trapped, you are trapped. Me, I just walked out to the road and stuck out my thumb. Manuel and Maria took the bus from Guatemala to the US/Mexican border and snuck across. Just who is trapped here? Everyone who says they are trapped are indeed trapped … and no one else …

    However, I also absolutely agree that humans need laws and regulations, or someone will piss in the drinking water. Not a theory, it’s been proven a million times.

    As a result, it’s illegal in many cities to blast loud sound after dark. Why? Because if you live nearby, you can’t protect yourself from the sound, it rocks through every room, disrupts your conversations, blasts down through the ceiling of your apartment. So people pass laws.

    In the city, though, light is everywhere. I used to live on the second floor above a liquor store at the corner of Ashby and Adeline, on the border between Berkeley and Oakland. Street lights, light from the apartment all around, neon from the liquor store, people coming and going, and everyone does the same thing in response … PULL DOWN THE FREAKIN’ SHADES.

    Then the light doesn’t rock through every room, it doesn’t disrupt your conversations, it doesn’t blast down through your ceiling.

    So I’m not buying the argument that we should pass laws against car headlights lighting up city streets and having the audacity to shine directly in someone’s window, just because you claim it destroys the tranquility of your second-floor apartment.

    I do agree we need to be concerned about light in certain sensitive areas, for various reasons, one of them being astronomy. And cities and municipalities in the viewshed of the big astronomical telescopes have generally been cooperative in cutting down light loss to the sky … and often they agreed to do things like shade the streetlights, not just for the astronomers, but for a bozo-simple reason—it costs money to try to light up outer space, and it doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. By using reflectors to focus the streetlight where you need it, you use less light, so it’s cheaper. Plus it keeps the aliens from noticing you, always a plus, and keeps your neighborhood astronomer on your side. What’s not to like?

    That is how much of the astronomy problem has been solved, or at least ameliorated, in the past. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an issue, but it’s been handled generally without legal interference.

    However, this French nonsense, as well as what the city of Chico might do given their leadership, has nothing to do with light and everything to do with CO2. Otherwise, why would the French talk about lights in the interior of office buildings? I know they don’t live in glass houses or work in glass office buildings, they got as much to hide as you and me …

    So I am objecting to two things here.

    The first is the use of the CO2 hysteria to pass ridiculous laws, while disguising it as being about either astronomers or saving energy. I find that duplicitous.

    The second is the assumption that if we see a problem (light pollution affecting telescopes), we should pass a law. Got a problem? Pass a law to fix it, that seems to be the mantra. I disagree with that entire approach. Passing a law, particularly (as in this case) a general law (turn off all lights) for a local problem (lights in the viewshed of major astronomical telescopes) should be our last option rather than our first.

    Regards,

    w.

    • Willis said “Everyone is able to move.”

      Yes they are, but that doesn’t mean they can. People have jobs and other commitments that necessitate their living in urban areas. I’d love to live in a rural area, and would do so if the area could provide me with meaningful remunerative employment.

  187. Good comments, Willis; I agree that too many laws are demanded/passed. Obviously, we won’t agree on which laws are bad and which are good. I think requiring light shields on new outdoor lights is a good law. You don’t. Fine. (Fortunately for me, I’m in a position where I’ve been able to have my way on new subdivisions, through the miracle of modern extortion, though that word’s a bit strong. :)

    I would also support power companies giving subsidies, or outright paying for, light shields. Reduce light pollution, save energy, put light where it’s needed and wanted, keeps neighbors AND astronomers happy. As you put it so well, “What’s not to like?”

    BTW, I live way, way out in the country. I’ve been unable to see stars/planets very well for the last year or so, because our State Hwy department installed 10-12 extremely bright street lights, for the purpose of lighting up the roadside so people can chain up. Last year, they left the lights on the entire year, not just when chains were needed. This year, after lots of people whined enough, they started turning off all but three of the lights. They can’t seem to cut loose on those three.

    My neighbor swears he’s going to blow the lights to hell. We’ll see. Wouldn’t bother me any, that’s for sure :)

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