Date: March 21, 2010
Title: Dark Skies Crusader Sheds Light on Light Pollution
Podcaster: Constance Walker
Description: With half of the world’s population now living in cities, many urban dwellers have never experienced the wonderment of pristinely dark skies and maybe never will. This loss, caused by light pollution, is a concern on many fronts: safety, energy conservation, cost, health and effects on wildlife, as well as our ability to view the stars. Even though light pollution is a serious and growing global concern, it is one of the easiest environmental problems people can address on local levels. In this podcast, super hero, Dark Skies Crusader, helps Jack, Judy and Mary rescue a sea turtle by providing simple solutions for light pollution. And to provide opportunities for public involvement in dark skies preservation and energy conservation, we mention three events coming up in the next month: Earth Hour, the International Dark Sky Week and World Night in Defense of the Starlight.
Bio: Podcast author, Connie Walker (as Narrator #1 and Mary), is an astronomer and science education specialist in the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) group at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona. She directs the GLOBE at Night program (www.globeatnight.org). In addition, she chaired the global cornerstone project on Dark Skies Awareness for the International Year of Astronomy (www.darkskiesawareness.org). Podcast author, Rob Sparks (as Narrator #2 and Jack), is a science education specialist in the EPO group at NOAO as well. He works on the Galileoscope project (www.galileoscope.org), providing design, dissemination and professional development and as well as a great blog at halfastro.wordpress.com. New to portraying podcast characters, Emily Acosta (as Judy) is a graphic designer for the NOAO EPO group, and Chuck Dugan (as Dark Skies Crusader) is a public program specialist for the NOAO Kitt Peak Visitor Center.
Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by The Planetary Society, celebrating 30 years of inspiring the people of Earth to explore other worlds, understand our own, and seek life elsewhere. Explore with us at planetary.org
Narrator #2: (in the style of a Saturday movie serial): A warm Saturday night in Florida. Jack and Judy Johnson are driving down Gulf Boulevard on their way to their favorite restaurant, Euphemia Haye.
Sound effect: Car driving
Judy: Jack, look out! What is that on the road?
Sound Effect: Tires screeching. Car doors opening.
Jack: Why, it looks like a bunch of baby sea turtles.
Judy: But what are they doing here? They should be going toward the ocean. They will not survive!
Jack: They seem to be disoriented. They don’t know where the ocean is.
Judy: They seem to be heading toward that convenience store across the street. Can anyone help them?
Sound effect: Bicycle bell ringing
Jack and Judy: Dark Skies Crusader!
Dark Skies Crusader: Greetings, citizens! Thanks for being concerned about the sea turtles.
Jack: But Dark Skies Crusader, how can you help the sea turtles?
DSC: Their problem really is one of poorly designed nighttime lighting. See that convenience store across the street?
Judy: Yes, it is very brightly lit. There is so much glare, I can’t even see the ads on the windows.
DSC: Precisely. When baby sea turtles hatch from their nests at night, they go toward the brightest light source they can find.
Jack: Why would they do that?
DSC: Before humans developed artificial lights, the brightest light source was the Moon and stars reflecting off the ocean.
Judy: But now the brightest light source is the convenience store so they think that is the ocean!
Judy: What can we do? The store needs lights.
DSC: Let’s go talk to the store owner.
Sound effect: door opening
DSC: We are here to see the owner!
Mary: I am the owner, Mary Moore.
Jack: There is a problem with your outdoor lighting. The sea turtles that are hatching across the street see your bright light.
Judy: They are crossing the street and coming to your store rather than going to the ocean. We want to save the sea turtles!
Mary: Well, I need lights at my store so people can see in the parking lot and be safe. I can’t just turn them off!
DSC: And no one is asking you to, my friend. Good lighting design can save the sea turtles, keep you store lit, AND save you money!
Mary: How so?
DSC: By properly shielding your lights and pointing them only where you need them.
Jack: But that’s impossible!
DSC: My superpower is that I am a Certified Lighting Efficiency Professional. I can transform the lights into properly shielded fixtures.
Sound effect: Construction sounds
Jack: All the light is focused on the store’s parking lot…look, the sea turtles are turning around and heading toward the ocean!
DSC: And since all the light is focused where you want it, I used lower wattage bulbs. You should see a reduction in your electricity bills.
Mary: And without all that glare, you can read the ads I put up in my window! I should sell a lot more stuff now and make more money!
Jack: Hey, there’s a crosswalk over there. I couldn’t see it before due to the glare from the lights. I could have hit someone.
Mary: And look at the stars! I didn’t realize how much of my light went up to the sky.
Judy: Yes, good lighting design has lots of benefits.
DSC: And there are health benefits as well. The American Medical Association passed a resolution supporting efforts to control light pollution due to its effects on human health.
Judy: How can we ever thank you?
DSC: Simple. Go home and make sure the lights on your home are dark sky friendly. You can find lots of information on good lighting design at www.darksky.org. Now I am off to Las Vegas.
Jack: Thanks, Dark Skies Crusader. You deserve a vacation!
DSC: A vacation? Are you kidding me? Have you SEEN the lights in Vegas?
Narrator #2: Will the Dark Skies Crusader be able to tame the glittery lights of Las Vegas? Join us next time for “Dark Skies Crusader: The Lights in Vegas Must Stay in Vegas” with special guest stars Penn and Teller who will attempt to make poorly designed lights disappear.
Narrator #1: Contrary to popular thinking, bright glaring lights can actually lessen our ability to see well at night. This excessive brightness, known as glare, causes visual discomfort as well as decreased visibility. Shielded light fixtures reduce glare, as well as light trespass and sky glow, and improve our eyes’ ability to see our surroundings after dark. (Light trespass is light falling where it is not intended, wanted, or needed. Sky glow is the brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas.)
Proper baffling in shielded lights reflects the light and makes it more efficient because less power is used. Using energy efficient lights is as important as using proper light shielding. Using outdoor lighting only when and where needed and only as much as is needed helps preserve our natural night environment and save energy too!
Narrator #2: According to the International Dark-Sky Association (or “IDA”), billions of dollars are spent on unnecessary lighting every year in the United States, with about $2 billion going directly into the nighttime sky from unshielded outdoor lights. Wasted lighting in the United States releases 38 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually; 1.2 million tons of that is solely due to unshielded outdoor lights.
Light pollution is not limited to energy waste or our ability to see the stars. Research suggests that light at night may interfere with normal circadian rhythms — the 24-hour cycle of day and night that humans have used to maintain health for millennia.
Wildlife also can be harmed by unnecessary light at night. From newly hatched sea turtles to migrating birds, fish, frogs, salamanders, moths and lightning bugs, artificial night lighting disrupts the cycles of nocturnal creatures.
For additional information on how to light responsibly, see www.darksky.org.
Narrator #1: In the next month, from March 27 through April 20, we invite you to participate in three upcoming events that celebrate dark night skies and promote responsible lighting.
Earth Hour 2010: On March 27, 2010 at 8:30 pm, millions of people around the world will come together once again to make a bold statement about their concern for climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. Earth Hour symbolizes that, by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in the fight against climate change. In March 2009, during the International Year of Astronomy, more than 4100 cities in 87 countries and over 1 billion people around the world turned off their lights for Earth Hour to demonstrate their commitment to slowing the effects of climate change. Let’s exceed these numbers this year! For more information on Earth Hour, see www.earthhour.org.
Narrator #2: The International Dark Sky Week: From April 4 through April 10, 2010, the International Dark Sky Week celebrates the heritage of the nighttime sky by also encouraging people to turn out unnecessary lights. The event began in 2003 as National Dark-Sky Week in the United States and officially became international in 2009, during the International Year of Astronomy. The key to success is participation.
To participate in the International Dark Sky Week this year, here are some suggestions:
• Turn out your outdoor lights during the week whenever it is safe to do so.
• Light only when and where needed.
• Encourage friends and neighbors to do the same.
• Change out lights to something more energy efficient and shielded if possible.
• Find out if there are any star parties or events at local observatories during the week to promote dark skies awareness.
For more information on the International Dark Sky Week, visit www.darkskiesawareness.org/idsw.php.
Narrator #1: World Night in Defense of the Starlight: On April 20th, 2007 during the first International Starlight Conference, it was agreed to promote annually the World Night in Defense of the Starlight as part of our cultural, scientific and environmental heritage.
Every year on April 20th we remind ourselves of the need to preserve our right to view a dark night sky full of stars and to take steps to prevent its disappearance.
World Night on April 20th is an opportunity to get actively involved in many ways:
• Switch-off unnecessary lights at night to recover the stars and at the same time save energy and slow down climate change.
• Organize artistic events or competitions related to astronomical themes.
• Offer night sky viewing through telescopes.
• Provide media coverage and public talks by astronomers and dark skies advocates.
• Identify local areas that warrant dark skies protection.
• Advocate for local dark sky ordinances.
• And, in particular, organize events in which children can participate. Our capacity to maintain the right to observe stars is in their hands; it should be the right of future generations.
This year, World Night in Defense of the Starlight falls within Astronomy Week 2010. For more information on World Night, see www.starlight2007.net.
Narrator #2: We hope you will celebrate these events with us to promote dark skies awareness and responsible lighting.
Thank-you for joining the adventures of the Dark Skies Crusader with Jack, Judy, and Mary, wishing you a dark and clear sky full of stars.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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