by Max Brantley
The Central Arkansas Astronomical Society is disappointed in the failure of a light pollution bill (The Arkansas Nighttime Environmental Protection Act - HB 1003) to make it out of committee in the State House of Representatives yesterday. The bill’s failure was apparently due to the city of Little Rock and the Municipal League’s thoughtless opposition to progress in this important area of environmental protection.
The careless use of poorly designed and unnecessary outdoor lighting has veiled the natural night sky over most of our state and removed the universe in which we live from our daily lives. A naturally dark sky has become so rare that some states, to include neighboring Texas, have created dark sky parks where people can witness the universe they live in. It is estimated that fewer than eight out of ten persons reaching adulthood in this country today have ever seen the Milky Way.
But there is more to this issue than esthetics. Light that goes up into the sky is wasted light and wasted money, often public money, a waste of the energy source used, often a needless source of air pollution and green house gas emissions, and impacts wildlife, particularly nocturnal species, while proper lighting is safer and more effective lighting.
It is unfortunate that instead of educating themselves on this subject and following the lead of other cities around the country and even a few here in Arkansas, the league and the city of Little Rock have chosen to be guided by inertia, resisting what they should be leading.