Archive | Light Pollution

High-power Light at Night a Carcinogen

HAIFA, Israel, Sept. 6 (UPI) — Israeli researchers call “environmental light pollution,” or high-power light at night, a carcinogenic pollution.

Researchers at the Center for Interdisciplinary Chronobiological Research at the University of Haifa in Israel have linked light at night, especially environmental light pollution to greater cancer growth. They suggest this is due to lessened production of melatonin — a hormone released by the pineal gland during the dark hours of the day.

Study leader Abraham Haim and colleagues divided lab mice injected with cancerous cells into four groups: Long days — 16 hours of light/ 8 hours of darkness; long days but treated with melatonin; short days — 8 hours light/16 dark hours — and short days but exposed to a half-hour of light during the dark hours.

The study found the smallest cancerous growths in mice with short days. Mice with short days but exposed to light during dark hours had larger growths — averaging a cubic half-inch. The mice exposed to long days had growths averaging 2 cubic inches.

However, “long days” mice treated with melatonin had small tumors — similar in size to those of “short days” mice. Melatonin-treated mice — versus untreated mice — had significantly lower death rates.

“Exposure to light at night disrupts our biological clock and affects the cyclical rhythm that has developed over hundreds of millions of evolutionary years that were devoid of light at night,” the researchers said in a statement.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Light Pollution, Other0 Comments

NASA's 'greenest' Building Opens

PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 26 (UPI) — The U.S. space agency opened a new building Monday at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, calling it NASA’s most environmentally friendly structure.

The Flight Projects Center was opened following a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by lawmakers and local dignitaries.

“It seems fitting that the new building, where teams will plan future space missions that use new technologies, also has the latest ‘green’ technologies to help JPL do its part to improve our environment here on Earth,” said JPL Director Charles Elachi.

The building is the first NASA structure to receive “LEED Gold Certification” under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system established by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council. To qualify, buildings must meet several criteria, such as efficient use of water, energy and resources, and provide a healthy and comfortable indoor workspace.

The “green” features of the new building include:

– Outdoor lighting used for safety purposes only and directed toward the ground to reduce light pollution in the night sky.

– Low-flow faucets and toilets to reduce water use by 40 percent.

– Smart heating and cooling systems that know whether people are in a room and then adjust temperatures and ventilation accordingly.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Buildings, Energy, Light Pollution0 Comments

Lumens vs. Energy

There is a group in the USA (and elsewhere) known as the International Dark Sky Association who, since 1988, have been advocating not carbon reduction, but lumen reduction. With over 11,000 members – over 1,500 in California – the International Dark Sky Association has some clout.

Nonetheless, “glare bombs” are still available in bulk and can still be easily and inexpensively purchased (by anyone with an exterior wall on their dwelling) at the nearest big box retail outlet, and when deployed these always-on security lights, especially using flourescents, consume minimal energy and produce extremely maximal lumens. In fact, in spite of their energy sipping ways, just one of these security lighting fixtures could, if placed on the surface of the moon, be visible with a 20x telescope from earth. At least in a sufficiently dark location on earth.

But dark skies are only part of the mission of the International Dark Sky Association. They also lobby for smarter lumen management on the part of cities and other entities. After all, if excessive lumens from a “glare bomb” actually creates dark shadows, where unauthorized intruders can hide while surveying in full light the night surroundings, why have more lumens? Why would anyone want side-mounted always-on visible-from-the-moon night security lighting – who knows how many lumens – when a 10 watt incandescent would be more than enough to light the way?

If excess lumens temporarily blinds the rods (night vision receptors) in our retina, and creates no real benefit other than countering other excess lumens, why not have smarter lumen related laws and ordinances in our cities? Such a perspective applied – and even if incandescent / fluorescent indifferent would still reduce energy usage – would also help in creating night spaces that are inviting as well as secure. Light pollution is here, it is real, it is now, and the International Dark Sky Association intends to continue to do something about it.

Posted in Energy, Homes & Buildings, Light Pollution, Other, Retail1 Comment

Incandescent Power Grab

How far will the government go in controlling our lives? In California’s state house, left-wing and right-wing political opportunists are joining forces to enact sweeping green legislation that is often of questionable value – raising the ante. Now some have called for a statewide ban on incandescent lightbulbs. This latest prospect of flawed and over-reaching law takes the cake in many ways, almost surpassing California’s pending prohibition on parents spanking their own young children.

Incandescent Bulb

First of all, incandescent lights don’t pollute, dirty energy production is what pollutes. Why don’t California’s legislators fund another million solar rooftops instead? Why don’t they create incentives for investors to build in-state photovoltaic panel and industrial battery manufacturing plants? Why don’t the legislators mandate energy efficient elevators in commercial buildings? For that matter, why don’t they come up with new and comprehensive green standards to retrofit all commercial buildings, starting with those over 100,000 square feet? There are many ways to increase the supply and reduce the demand for electricity, without having to invade the insides of our homes!

A green hack is anyone who wants to push along today’s ultra fashionable “green, green, how much I want you green” bandwagon without bothering to assess who might be getting run over, or where better the bandwagon might go. That some of California’s ultra-green politicians may actually believe they are doing good is only somewhat reassuring. These are the same people who helped kill the electric car so they could waste billions of dollars and waste decades of precious time on hydrogen fuel cell cars.

And where will big government go next? Beginning in the late 1970’s, California had a drought that lasted over ten years. There will be another drought, and when there is, we will either manufacture more water, or the government will come into our homes – turning our showers into mist dispensers, rationing our wash cycles, and mandating cactus instead of lawns. When all we had to do was build a couple of desalinization plants (two kilowatt-hours is all it takes to desalinate a cubic meter of water), or increase our groundwater storage, or make everyone pay market rate – residential water consumers don’t use that much water, and pay far, far more than farmers do for their supply. A slight increase in water pricing, with means-tested credits for low income residents, would manage any drought, and fund investments in new water utilities. Using fair taxation schemes (if there is such a thing) is also the proper way to promote efficient electricity consumption, not through rationing, or punitive pricing for heavy residential users of water or electricity. If you think about the precedents represented by a ban on incandescent light bulbs, you will not support it. It is the wrong approach.

Another way to describe a green hack is anyone who might support drastic and long-term measures based on fluid tactical data. There are many ways to build a light bulb, with sea-changes imminent. Technically speaking, a light emitting diode could be considered incandescent, are we going to ban them, too? These “LED” bulbs are coming onto the market and have very low intrinsic costs to manufacture. Florescent bulbs, in spite of years of research, still require subsidies to be affordable. If you ban cost-effective incandescents now, you impart an advantage to the well-established florescent manufacturers to the detriment of the emerging and more efficient LED manufacturers. When it comes to light bulbs, innovation is better than regulation.

Instead of banning incandescent lighting, why doesn’t California’s legislature ban any form of lights on the outside of residences that exceed a reasonable amount of lumens? There are homeowners who think it’s ok to install a complete 360 degree array of 500+ watt outdoor lights. Too many homeowners have extreme outdoor lights; this is ridiculous, obnoxious light pollution, and collectively a prodigious waste of energy. If our legislators want to intrude again into our lives with regulations, let them be good ones. Ban over-illumination of outdoor neighborhoods at night.

What about the fact that florescent light looks bad? To threaten to come into our homes, and force us all to remove warm, variable, many-hued incandescent light bulbs, replacing them with blazing, micro-flickering, ultra cool, glaring and invariable florescents – this is an insulting, unconstitutional affront carrying possibly no benefit to society, and calls into question the competence of any legislator who might support it. And don’t tell someone who doesn’t like florescent light that they look “better nowadays.” Maybe we just like being able to see the glowing incandescent filament through the clear glass bulb. Or maybe some of us have different tastes, and finer discernment. Don’t regulate our personal illumination in our own homes! What about the fact that increasing numbers of homes are energy positive; they ought to be able to make any use of their energy they wish – including operating inefficient, but aesthetically acceptable incandescent lights.

So wake up, California legislature, and leave incandescent lights alone. Don’t discourage us from investing in energy positive homes, nor force us to turn our warm kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms into florescently illuminated industrial warehouse space.

Posted in Buildings, Cars, Consumption, Drought, Electricity, Energy, Hydrogen, Light Pollution, Policy, Law, & Government, Solar5 Comments

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