Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Street lights: an incredible waste

We've always assumed that street lights protect us against criminals and that they seriously reduce the number of traffic accidents. But new research actually indicates the opposite, i.e. that turning the lights off doesn't result in a higher crime rate or accident statistics at all or on the contrary, that it even results in much less burglaries or accidents. There are a good number of arguments that support this theory, which I demonstrate in the video below, because seeing the effect of turning the lights off will convince you more than me explaining what happens.

Moreover, several studies have linked artificial lights directly with cancer, placing it just below the risk level of asbestos! The argument goes that specific wavelengths of artificial light suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for regulating our sleep. This particular hormone has the capacity to absorb free radicals and other cancer-generating substances and it can even shrink and kill entire cancer cells. Therefore, suppressing the production of melatonin makes us much more vulnerable to cancer.

On top of that, artificial light has a devastating effect on animal and plant life, destroying their biological clock. Sea turtles can't find their way home anymore, migrating birds fall under the spell of brightly illuminated buildings and die of exhaustion, many insects and other animals are attracted to our lights and become a too easy prey for predators, fireflies or other animals which use light as a means of communication suddenly lose track of each other, frogs refrain from singing their love chorus under the glare of artificial light and stop reproducing, and so on. The effect of all this on the Earth's ecosystem is so far completely unknown, but in our arrogance we assume that with time all animals and plants will adapt to our desire for light. If you ask me, that's a serious risk we're taking.

And to round it off, noone actually has any idea how incredibly big the energy consumption needed for our night lights actually is. For a medium-sized country like Italy, the energy required for its public lighting is estimated at a whopping 900 Million kWh, making public lighting overall by far the biggest consumer on the planet! Imagine how much this costs us, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of damage to the environment. Electricity has to be produced somewhere and for such an enormous need a couple of solar panels (which don't work in the dark anyway) won't do. In stead, traditional coal and gas power plants have to continue operating at night with dire consequences for global warming. 

And all of this... just to appease our completely superfluous animal instinct which tells us to be afraid of the dark, whereas the dark actually protects us. 

I'd call that insane. But who am I...

The Italian version...

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