Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A comment from Sherman Oaks

Greg Wright, of Sherman Oaks, wrote in with the comment posted below. I appreciated his perspective, and have decided to share it with the folks who keep up with our blog.

Greg wrote:

Congratulations to Lights Out Los Angeles and L.A.'s civic leaders for this great "CO2sciousness-raising" activity.

Rachel Hadjipateras, a Californian living in Senegal, wrote in a letter to the editor of the L.A. Times (Sept. 23rd) that "one hour without lights is not likely to enlighten anyone in California" about going without power or reducing our carbon footprint.

But it should! The North Polar Region is melting in front of our eyes. The oceans are dying. Species are disappearing in a spasm of extinction unseen since the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. Humanity needs to dim, turn down and turn off a lot of unnecessary lights and other unnecessary stuff, fast, to avoid a slew of terrible effects that, if we don't, will last for the rest of our stay on Earth, and of many of our fellow mammals and other creatures. The one hour of relative electrical dimness in San Francisco on October 20th, or the Lights Out America on next March 29th -- or the annual Sydney Earth Hour or last year's Lights Out London -- will have value only if these events become the prelude to a massive reduction in commercial nighttime illumination that happens by law and new custom every night after a certain hour (say, at midnight): a regular practice instead of an annual celebration. At least until the world is powered completely by carbon-free renewable energy. This should start with billboard illumination (except in a few special entertainment districts, such as the Sunset Strip), and then the many blazing-bright auto dealerships and the many large freestanding signs on closed businesses.

"The greatest generation" blacked out the lights during World War Two to help win that war. Hopefully we of the present, of all ages, can be "the greenest generation" and dim our lights to help win the war for the planet.

Energy conservation is the low-hanging fruit of the rapid societal decarbonization desperately needed to save our biosphere. Now that more than half of humanity lives in cities, permanently reducing nighttime urban electric illumination as a widespread practice will save a lot of fossil-fueled electricity and the atmospheric carbon it causes -- and quite a few people, ever more disconnected from nature, will be able to see the night sky again.

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