Letter: If other cities can protect their night skies, so can we | SteamboatToday.com

Letter: If other cities can protect their night skies, so can we

Don’t you love living in such a beautiful place? As our area has been “found,” the changes that come with it are inevitable, but one that is totally within our control is being overlooked: maintaining our dark skies.

In the 1960s I would gaze at the night sky in absolute awe. The white swath of Milky Way stretched across the sky, and the trillions of stars spoke of so many things other than “us.” And the numbers of bats and nighthawks and nocturnal insects — it was a different world at night. Sadly now, I rarely see the Milky Way, I have not heard the nighthawks for years, and the numbers of nocturnal insects is devastatingly low. Lighting the night skies not only cheats all of us out of a magical experience, but affects wildlife and plant life.

According to the 1977 Clean Air Act, dark night skies are considered an air quality related value, and air quality in return affects the quality of the night sky. This is more related to air pollution affecting light transmission, but increasing artificial light is also light pollution. We focus on water pollution and health of our soils and lands, it is now time to protect our night ecosystems.

Researchers are becoming increasingly alarmed at the impacts light pollution has on natural systems and our own health. Not to mention the amount of wasted energy — up to 50% for outdoor lighting. I highly encourage you to visit the International Dark Sky Initiative at DarkSky.org and peruse the research being done as well as the solutions. These are easy solutions. 

We need to take that first step.

When I visited my folks in Green Valley, Arizona, south of Tucson, I loved walking at night. I looked north to where a thriving metropolis was “supposed” to be lighting the night sky, but I could see the Milky Way and those trillions of stars. If Tucson can protect their night skies, so can we! A few simple solutions can bring back a beautiful part of our experiencing the world at night in our lovely little corner of the world.

Karen Vail
Steamboat Springs

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