February 3 – 16, 2020
“I looked at your area and I calculate an increase [of light pollution] from year to year of about 5 percent — more than twice the national average! It is faster than the national average in these once pristine rural/suburban areas. Overall, I see the highest percentage growth in these areas, not cities. So that’s a story worth telling…” — Tim Brothers, manager, MIT Wallace Astrophysical Observatory
Mount Washington — While we are looking the other way, the dazzle of starry skies that we thought would always be there is being dimmed by a hazy scrim: when encountered, we feel as if a disease has overtaken our eyes. But the haze is accumulated wasted light from each of our trillions of outdoor lights – private and public – that are not designed to focus the light down to the ground. The result is that the light scatters around and up to the sky, known as “light trespass” and “light pollution.” Excessive light is also wasted light and it is not only a wasted resource. While quick to light up our world, we have not only been oblivious to polluting our skies, but are discovering that light pollution is having deleterious affects on human health and the health of our environment.
Yes, each of us can act to reverse this blight by easily adapting the fixtures of our own outdoor lights and exercising discretion when making lighting decisions and turning on the switch.
But urgent at this moment in Massachusetts is the fate of a bill, (H.2858/S.1937) “An Act Improving Outdoor Lighting and Increasing Dark-Sky Visibility,” stuck in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. The committee must decide whether it is going to support and pass on the bill by Feb. 5. This bill addresses public lighting statewide, e.g. highway lights. Its aim is to promote energy-efficient lighting, conserve energy, regulate outdoor night lighting and reduce light pollution. It is forward-looking legislation that will not require retrofits; rather, it will guide new and replacement lighting. Time is of the essence!
Telephone and email your support to your state senator and representative. Instant contact information at https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin and Hamden County residents, contact Sen. Adam G. Hinds, an early co-sponsor of Senate bill S.1937. https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/AGH0
Rep. Smitty Pignatelli can still become a co-sponsor of H.2858. Urge him to do so. https://malegislature.gov/Legislators/Profile/WSP1/District
In closing, a note from physician and astronomer Mario Motta, M.D., co-author of AMA report “Light Pollution: Adverse Health Effects of Nighttime Lighting.”**:
“We [The Massachusetts Medical Society] support the Dark-Sky Bill because it will reduce unnecessary and harmful light pollution, it will help protect human health and wildlife, and it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We respectfully urge the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee to report out favorably the Dark-Sky Bill and to ultimately move it to the full Legislature for passage.” — Mario Motta, M.D., trustee of the American Medical Association
**Sky & Telescope article on American Medical Association report https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/ama-addresses-light-pollution/
Outdoor Lighting Basics – The International Dark Sky Association IDA
Interview with Tim Brothers, Mario Motta https://www.boston.com/news/policy/2019/03/07/massachusetts-dark-sky-light-pollution-bill
Tim Brothers, MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
State Sen. Cindy Cream, bill presenter
World map of light pollution https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/#zoom=10&lat=5180925&lon=-8148894&layers=B0TFFFFFFFFFFFFF
April, September, December 2019 “Eyes to the Sky” with bibliographies
“Monterey Street Lights: Lighting—or Losing—Our Way,” by Janet Jensen, Monterey News, April 2019