On my recent trip I looked out of the window of the plane at night and was blown away by the contrast of coming from Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado with its practically solid black nighttime landscape and then flying over Denver, a big city bursting with light. It was breathtaking and I spontaneously fell in love with this vibrant display of lights. Twinkling lights for most of us evoke feelings of festivity, charm and warmth. We are drawn to light. It makes us feel good and safe.
Then I couldn’t help myself, but started to wonder about all that light. As stunning as the sight was from above, I had to confess that this was indeed what we call light pollution.
How much of this beautiful display was actually necessary and how much was a total waste of resources?
What would this landscape look like if everybody would only use exactly the amount of light needed for a task, for safety and feeling good?
It would probably have a lot less of a Wow effect, but be just as beautiful.
Recent scientific studies show that light pollution among many things obscures the stars for city dwellers, disrupts the migration pattern of birds, has adverse effects on our health and is a huge waste of energy. I could go on and on with sound and compelling reasons to make some serious changes to our city light exuberance.
A growing number of cities and towns across the United States are drafting ordinances as we speak that require new light fixtures– both commercial and residential – not to shine any light above a horizontal line, not up into the atmosphere. Instead, everything must be directed downwards unto what needs to be illuminated.
As more and more homeowners are starting to look for ways to reduce their energy usage, the Dark Sky Movement is gaining ground even though
most consumers might never have heard about “Light Pollution” or, as a matter of fact, “The Dark Sky Movement”. Awareness has luckily been growing among local government leaders, who have been drafting ordinances to bring the night sky back.
More and more pressure is therefore put on manufacturers to come out with more Dark Sky-Friendly outdoor light fixtures and of course they are not only listening but reacting to these new demands.
We still have a long way to go before the last neighbor with the horrible 150W spotlight will understand that a little light goes a long way outdoors and that lots of light does not translate to safety. Great contrasts between bright lights and darkness are actually much more of a safety issue.
With an outdoor wall sconce shielded on top instead of spreading light into the night sky, less wattage is needed to achieve the same amount of light. Where a 100W bulb was needed to illuminate the steps a 40W bulb will provide just as much direct light.
Hubbardton Forge offers several sconces that have received the Dark Sky Fixture Seal of Approval. One, the Nightfall features a beautiful ceramic shield with natural stone motifs that only allows the light to shine downwards.
Justice Design also features a large selection of outdoor wall sconces that are closed on top and the Minka Group has several outdoor lanterns with metal tops that block the upward light.