Texas has passed legislation to curb artificial lighting. The purpose of the legislation is to assist the McDonald Observatory’s view of the night sky. The bill takes effect in January 2012 and will curb outdoor night lighting within 57 miles of the observatory. The ability of the observatory to view the night sky is hindered by too much light. The light comes from homes and businesses.
The law advocates the use of shielded lighting and led lights. The effect of the bill is twofold. It is true that artificial lighting does interfere with the observatory. Whether intended or otherwise the bill also will reduce energy consumption. The law does away with lighting that interferes with the observatory, not lighting all together.
There now is an opportunity for homeowners and businesses to upgrade their lighting systems to conserve energy. There have been numerous health studies conducted that indicate extended exposure to artificial light can interrupt sleep patterns in humans. It is not the artificial light exactly, but the fact humans are exposed for long periods. Before, the invention of electricity humans set their sleep schedules by the rising and setting sun. The body in some cases cannot regulate its self unless there is darkness a few hours before sleep.
Typically as with anything there will be exemptions to the light ban and perhaps some calibrations of the law. Many individuals already have lost sight of the law’s purpose. The question of course is whose rights have greater value. The observatory does provide valuable information. No one knows how valuable some of the data and information is yet. There may be a point in time where the value is obvious.
Technology has brought civilization many things. If one were asked, to do without technology they may feel they could not do without. The advocates of the new law have pointed out how much light is wasted. The intended consequences of the law appear to be justified at first glance. The unintended consequences appear to be the most valuable at this point. The reduction in energy consumption must always be taken into account. Technology has brought society many things including the inability to see in the dark.