We’re thinking a lot,Â in the midst of both intentional and unintended change coming to southwest Virginia, about what we want to preserve in the way we live, about those amenities and resources we will not sell to woo tourism or other business, will not give up for any amount of revenue. There are some changes that would kill the goose that laid the golden egg. What are those precious amenities, values, conditions or resources, and how can we preserve them?
Two that came to me, and about which I am writing lately, are our dark night skies and our general freedom from second-hand noise.
With regard to the role of light in our lives, I’m appalled to learn how few of us on the planet see a sky full of stars. I think backwards in time and try to imagine if the skies of past millennia revealed no more than 10 stars to Copernicus and Galileo, to Shakespeare, King David or Van Gogh, how different our world would be.
And the greatest tragedy: we have “poisoned” our darkness with wasted light. We are pouring the lives of miners, the tops of mountains, up into empty space.
Outdoor lighting that shines directly upward is reported to waste 3.6 million tons of coal or 12.9 million barrels of oil a year. This flagrant misuse of energy doesn’t even include lights left on in cities overnight in empty office buildings. Image from nightearth.org with my text overlay of clearly visible southern cities at night. Check out Atlanta!
Dark night skies and reliable quietude are natural resources we don’t want to give up. How about your community?
Read more: my annotated resources for the role light plays in our lives.