By David L. Brown
As anyone interested in astronomy is aware, much of our planet’s nighttime sky is lit up like a proverbial Christmas tree. Images from space reveal that blobs of glowing light cover vast areas of land like mold on rotten cheese, particularly in sprawling metropolitan areas that seem to blend into each other to almost completely cover the landscape as seen from satellites at night. To see an image of the United States that illustrates this point (you should be able to pick out your town), go here at darksky.org. For a worldwide view, take a look at this composite image from NASA:
Not surprisingly, all that light is a significant user of energy. That fact is confirmed by the first ever worldwide survey of lighting and energy costs, conducted by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. According to a news release from the IEA (read it here):
“Without rapid action the amount of energy used for lighting will be 80% higher in 2030 than today; however, if we simply make better use of today’s efficient lighting technologies and techniques, global lighting energy demand need be no greater at that time”, said Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency today in Paris during the launch of a new publication, Light’s Labour’s Lost: Policies for Energy–efficient Lighting.
“This important work shows that the potential for energy savings in lighting is simply enormous and can be achieved with technologies that not only are readily available in the market but economically-competitive during the life cycle of the product. Moreover, more efficient lighting also results in lower CO2 emissions”, Mr. Mandil added.
If more efficient lighting systems were put in place, that could “slash 38 percent from the world’s lighting bill by 2030,” according to the report.
“In the current lighting environment there are enormous sources of waste. Light is routinely supplied to spaces where no one is present,” Mandil said.