1.07.2007

The World's Night Lights


This is a picture of the world at night by NASA in 2000. The size of the photo in this post will not do it justice, so click here and see what I mean. It's really an awesome view.

What stands out immediately is that the brightest parts of the world are Western Europe and the Eastern half of the U.S.A. Inner Australia, Inner South America, Central Asia and Northern Canada are the darkest regions.

For Boricuas, Borinken is all lit up. The whole island burns like a high wattage bulb. It appears to have more light emanating from it than from the entire islands Hispaniola and Cuba.The environmentally concerned are not all that thrilled by the brightened skies. They see it as a form of pollution. Here' what one website posted in regards to the photo back in 2001:
Although it is certainly beautiful, it is also disturbing, because it shows how much artificial light is being directed up at the sky. This light (and the energy it takes to produce it) is not only being wasted--since in most cases it is a byproduct of street and building lighting intended to shine downward--it is also the source of light pollution, because it is scattered by particles in the atmosphere and inadvertently brightens the night sky.

An updated version of this photo is would no doubt show an even brighter world. Certainly, China and India are burning more lights, and there are more lights burning in our South and Southwest. Environmentalists must be even more alarmed by it all.

Question: Do night lights contribute to Global Warming? I would think so.

I'm of split mind about brightened skies. On the one hand, I like being able to see things when I'm out at night. On the other hand, I hate not being able to see the stars, the planets and other heavenly bodies at night because of the fog of lights. I love a clear and deeply dark night sky where the stars seem to be so close.

I've only experienced real darkness a few times in my life. The most recent was when the Northeast when dark as a result of the grid failure. It took me hours to get back home and for the last bit of the journey I was in complete and total darkness. I mean, I literally could not see my hand in front of my face! I walked like a blind man, forced to feel each and every step, because I couldn't see a thing.

The previous time was when I got caught driving at night in Puerto Rico after a major hurricane. It was a direct hit and all power on the Eastern side was shutoff. Driving in total darkness on mountain passages with hairpin turns, along sheer cliffs and with trees and electrical lines strewn about was very scary.

It sure is beautiful, though.