Spice of Life | Switch it off, don’t make light of light pollution in blind race
We are disrupting the balance forces of the Divine: day and night, dark and light. Darkness undoubtedly is associated with anti-social elements but brightness hampers the nocturnal species.
A little past midnight, as we moved towards the railway station the ostentatious overdose of light hit hard. An unending line of tall electric poles on the divider belched orange light on the road. Tricolour string lights wound on the poles seemed an unnecessary adornment.
On either side, multi-coloured billboards on commercial establishments accompanied by huge flood lights looked so incongruous. Advertisements atop buildings vied attention. Running scripts repelled me.
Flash lights, laser beams, dancing lights popped out of the wedding arenas enroute. Vehicles plying on full beam flashing lights incessantly in a bid to overtake blind you. The renovated railway station was bathed in light. Tableaus from scriptures were highlighted by strategically placed lights. Neon lights piercing vision all around. The icing on the cake was human forms glued to the bright screens of their gadgets!
Wither are we heading to? All this bizarre show off is but a ‘sordid boon’. We really have given our hearts away dear Wordsworth. As we celebrate the earth hour world over, it is ripe time to pay heed to light pollution we are causing and ponder upon the impending consequences. Environmentalists have categorised four major components: Clutter, bright excessive grouping of different lights; glare, excessive bright lights causing visual discomfort; light trespass, unnecessary light over an area; and sky glow, too much light over inhabited area.
We are disrupting the balance forces of the Divine: day and night, dark and light. Darkness undoubtedly is associated with anti-social elements but brightness hampers the nocturnal species. In our blind race we have negated the right of other inhabitants of our planet. Our ecosystem is being irrevocably affected. The star-studded night sky is being relegated to the realms of past. ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ survives in the nursery rhyme only.
Astronomical observatories are situated in secluded zones for obvious reasons. The humble hobby of star-gazing has few followers. Our children are deprived of the marvellous cosmological starscape. Poor lovers no longer spend nights counting stars. Married women across northern India are taken for a ride by the misleading glow in the sky on Karwachauth.
Light pollution is not only an environmental concern but a colossal waste of our meagre energy resources. The increased artificial light at night (ALAN) disrupts nature and has adverse effects on human health. It is causing energy waste, carbon dioxide emission and is contributing towards global warming. Each one of us needs to pitch in. Opt for reduced illuminance without compromising visibility. Switch off unnecessary lights and minimise light loss at home. When streetlights are on, we need to switch off our gate lights and porch lights. Once the establishments are closed what is the logic of glow signs? As responsible citizens, use dimmers and drive vehicles on low beam.
English poet John Betjeman’s prognosis seems to come true: When all our roads are lighted/ By concrete monsters sited/ Like gallows overhead, / Bathed in yellow vomit/ Each monster belches from it/ We’ll know that we are dead.
The writer is an associate professor and head of the department of English, Hindu Girls College, Jagadhri, and can be reached at email@example.com.