I don't know about you, but when people talk about light pollution I normally assume they are concerned about the lack of visibility of the night sky or the fact that they can't get to sleep because of the street light outside their bedroom window. Or that's what I used to think, what I am saying to you now is that it might be worth thinking a bit harder about the full consequences of light pollution.
I live out in the sticks a bit and on a clear night if I look up I can see the stars very well. Look to the South West however, where the City of Leicester nestles just below the horizon and the stars are very quickly lost in the artificial glow that emanates from the various street lights, external lights, vehicles and lit windows that are the signature of the city night scene.
It's a shame that the beauty of a starlight sky is marred in this way, but, really if you can't see the stars too well... so what? Well, the "so what" is the fact that nearly all of those lights are powered by electricity or vehicle engines. They are all using energy to provide light.
I find myself asking myself how many of those lights really need to be switched on. I also wonder how many of the light fittings used could be more energy efficient or activated only when required.
The problem is : I design and supply off-grid lighting systems that use renewable sources of energy to supply power where mains power is unavailable. The key to designing these systems is minimising the energy used at the very outset. Start by minimising the energy with efficient lights and clever design as this keeps the cost of the rest of the system down (solar panels and batteries can be expensive!).
If only we took this approach with all our mains powered lights and lighting systems the savings would be enormous, and it's pretty easy to do. It's simply looking at how we provide electric lighting from a different perspective and all that's required is a change of mindset.
I am sure in truth that alot of the lights could quite simply be turned off. Ask yourself next to you venture down the road if every one of those street lights you can see is absolutely necessary.
The combined effect of using energy efficient lights and turning off unnecessary lighting could be great. The cost savings huge. Costs that are at least partly born by us, the taxpayers, when we are talking about street lighting. In light of our National financial predicament, I am surprised I haven't heard the big 3 party leaders harping on about it on the telly!
Even if the world carries on blindly around you, you can do your bit if you are so inclined. It's simple. If you have outside lighting at your home or business, why not ask yourself if there is anyway you could reduce it's use or make it more efficient. We have some incredible 230V AC exterior LED floodlights that are incredibly efficient if that helps. And if that's too complicated just turn them off!
So, light pollution.. it may be worse than you thought, and to top it all, in my view, in many cases it's simply not necessary!
PostScript added 19th April 2010
It just occurred to me (durrr!) that our solar security lights may also be of interest to those of you who are looking for ways of reducing your exterior lighting costs and associated CO2 emissions. The Evo 36 Solar Security Light and Evo 56 Solar Security Light are both very robust, perform well and have the option of adding the Evo Booster Solar Panel to further enhance performance. These are as good as you will find for PIR operated solar security lights out of a box.