The term is an oxymoron. Light is pure. It contains no chemicals, no additives, no animal bi-products. It does, however, contain all the colors of the spectrum, both seen and unseen by the human eye. When used correctly, it illuminates, it radiates, and it permeates everything it is exposed to. Plants grow, humans thrive, animals enjoy its benefits in a host of ways.
Being exposed to ultraviolet rays, gamma-rays, x-rays, or laser-rays could have devastating or beneficial affects depending on the duration and conditions.
So how does it pollute?
Astronomers, in their attempt to view our vast heavens in a purely black night sky, often refer to any source of light as pollution. A poor choice of words (imo). However, I understand the term’s usage. And I understand why. On June 20th, the planets Jupiter and Venus converged for the first time in nearly 2000 years making a spectacular sight called the Bethlehem Star. Despite city lights or the sunset it could be seen with the naked eye, but how much better it would have been on a velvety night sky. Rather than labeling it “light pollution,” why not call it; less than optimal conditions, or grey-light, or inhibited darkness, or penetrated darkness.
That’s what light does.
If Earth were flat, or if you were standing atop a mountain surveying a larger-than-usual patch of the planet, you could glimpse bright lights hundreds of miles of distance. On a dark night, you could even see a candle flame flickering up to 30 miles away.
I remember as a child when sleeping in my grandparent’s home, they would leave a night-light on in the hall. Now days, you turn off the lights at home and dozens of little green and red lights blink back at you. Now that’s light pollution. We have lights from our cell phones as they charge, our ipods, our computers, the microwave, the TV, the surround-sound player, the DVD player, the clock on the oven, little lights on our refrigerator, to name just a few. If we needed, or wanted total darkness, we would have to unplug everything, pull the drapes, close the doors and maybe even put on one of those eye covers.
But is that what we want? I think not. There is something comforting about seeing light . . . even if it is a child’s night-light.
So let’s celebrate the night. Go outside and flick on your flashlight and pollute the darkness with light and be happy.
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