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12 Bold & Bizarre Visions for Cities

Nicole Ferraro
Friday, November 22, 2013 06:00 EST

24 comments
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PaulaPerez
PaulaPerez  
5/2/2014 4:37:41 AM
User Rank Village Voice
lotus
The lotus flower city looks particularly appealing, it might actually deliver what we need as far as silence and scenery, but other measures would probably be needed to reduce the overall pollution. At this point, I don't think it's enough to just build ecological cities, we also have to undo what's been done before, especially in dense urban areas.

Kind regards
Paula P. from Switzerland

Audrey Fischer
Audrey Fischer  
12/28/2013 3:51:26 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Visions of the future
Hi Nicole, Thanks for your interest : )  A global mindset needs to be inspired to change.  Starlight is an indicater of a healthy environment in which to work, play and raise a family.  A starry sky is as important as a clear brook or a blue afternoon sky. We need to keep artificial light out of the night sky and eliminate sky glow, glare, light clutter, and light trespass into private properties & bedroom windows; across city and state boundaries; into state parks,national parks and nature centers; or distracting/hindering drivers.  For a simple example, if we are determined to light the flag at night, it should be from the top-down (NOT using a spot light from the bottom-up). Some building architecture with overhangs or awnings can adequately "capture" uplighting before it pollutes the sky, while other buildings ought to condsider other options.   We already have the technology to dim lights or turn them off when appropriate, use motion detectors, pay-on-demand lighting for tennis courts (vs keeping them on throughout the night).  Bright white/high in blue specturm lighting ought to be banned for most outdoor applications- which causes more sky glow and is the most environmentally harmful. Interference of natural light polarization needs to be prevented.  Light reflection bouncing back into the night sky can be reduced with thoughtful planning with more green plantings and choosing colors and materials that reflect less.  Some countries already have lights that can be instantly brightened on demand by emergency personelle, like the fire department, when the cause warrants it. Pedestrian light systems exist already which can be activated by cell phones when pedestrians want more light. Motion detectors make a lot of sense for parking lots after-hours and some applications of security lighting. The lighting industry writes the current "bible" of recommended street & highway lighting (of which, in my humble opinion, is a conflict of interest). Unfortunately,nearly all DOTs accept it without question. Look at the satellite image of Earth at Night ("The Black Marble" is a recent NASA time-lapse video that is worth a look). This is proof of failure of lighting design and installation; very little artificial light should be visible from a satellite view. To a knowing eye, current globe-at-night images scream waste, greed, stupidity, because light pollution is needlessly causing serious harm to people, ecosystems, and the environment while depriving the populations of growing up with starlight. The National Park Service predicts by 2025, 90% of Americans will never see a starry night sky even once in their lifetime. Now with the current trend of municipalities installing bright white LEDs high in the blue specturm, it will happen even sooner. The practice of using light outdoors as artwork -- including using thousands of multi-color pattern changing LEDs on bridges spanning rivers has to end. (Instead, consider adapting bridges to also safely accommodate pedestrians and bikes with resting spots with nature lookouts and telescopes.)  Considering the House of Delegates of the AMA-- 540 attendees-- voted unaminously to approve Resolution 516 stating that light pollution is harmful to human health and safetly, and the World Health Organization, due to artificial light-at-night's disruption of the circadian and interruptions of the human body's ability to produce melatonin, is a probable carinogen, and that profound abundances of research studies show the link between light pollution and type 2 diabetes; breast & prostate cancers; obesity; and much more, we owe it to today's and future generations to restore starlight, and put an end to light pollution... especially over the cities, where it impacts the lives of so many.  

Light pollution is the easiest of all pollutions to fix.

As a start, here are links to some of the organizations, programs & events that are dedicated to reduce light pollution... some of which I have served on the board of directors, founded, or am connected in other ways plus a couple excellent documents and PSA. 
• Starlight Cities and the Covenant of Mayors, http://www.starlight2007.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=339%3Acities&catid=69%3Astarlight-cities&Itemid=91&lang=en  

• Int'l Dark-Sky Association,  http://www.darksky.org/

• OneStar at a Time and the Global StarPark Network, onestaratatime.org

• International Starry Night, http://starry-night.org
• Globe at Night.org, http://www.globeatnight.org

• Starlight Initiative, http://www.starlight2007.net

• http://issuu.com/pubcipriano/docs/starlightdeclarationen

• http://issuu.com/starlightinitiative/docs/stralightcommonheritage
 
Following are some links to "smart highway" and glow technologies that in some cases eliminate the need for standard lighting (of which i admire, but have no affiliation):  

• http://www.studioroosegaarde.net/project/smart-highway/

• http://www.studioroosegaarde.net/uploads/files/2012/10/17/142/Factsheet%20Smart%20Highway%20by%20Roosegaarde.pdf

• http://uk.heijmans.nl/Roosegaarde-%20Van_Gogh_Bicycle_Path#.UmjeGmkW2Sd<br%20/>  
 
 
 
Documents and videos:

• Here is a light pollution study as reported in the Journal of Environmental Management:  

 
 "City Light Pollution Affects Air Pollution" www.gadboisproductions.com/.../press_briefing_handout_stark_final.pdf 
• 3min youtube light pollution summary  by McDonald Observatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kYCQZJt26zQ

• 3min video of my favorite time-lapse of the Milky Way called "The Mountain":vimeo.com/22439234

• "Losing the Dark"- new 6min video PSA - some filmed in Chicago-documented the most light polluted city in the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd82jaztFIo  

 
• "The City Dark"  -  award-winning full feature documentary filmed in NYC. www.thecitydark.com

 (sorry about all the bold fonts... i tried to fix it, but couldn't)


Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
12/27/2013 1:26:28 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Visions of the future
Audrey, it's interesting - I tend to forget that the stars are missing except on those rare, super clear nights where I can see a few stars and am reminded of their existence and the fact that we can't see them. What sort of technology are you referring to? And what organizations out there are working on spreading awareness and pushing this as a priority for cities?

Audrey Fischer
Audrey Fischer  
12/27/2013 10:28:25 AM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Visions of the future
Nicole, it is even better than that!  We already have the technology to restore starlight over cities. We lack will ...and awareness.  The first step is to notice the stars are missing. The second step is to care enough to do something about it. Harmful light pollution has no place in any green city. No light pollution. No excuses. It is an urban myth that starlight cannot exist over a city.

wbalthrop
wbalthrop  
12/23/2013 6:33:19 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Visions of the future
That would be nice wouldn't it. I might even have to invest and upgrade to a good telescope :)

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
12/23/2013 6:24:50 PM
User Rank Staff
Re: Visions of the future
Wow, interesting thoughts, wbalthrop.

Even in the scenarios you describe, could we really reverse the damage done by light pollution, enough to get the stars back?

wbalthrop
wbalthrop  
12/23/2013 11:53:54 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Visions of the future
 @Audrey,

That actually may not be far off, I hope.

1. Future cars will be autonomous, so will not need headlights nor will they need street lights. In addition, once all transportation is electric it could be moved underground and out of sight.

2. That leaves above ground lighting for pedestrians only. Smart lighting could sense motion and only illuminate those area where people are walking. This would also save a lot of energy.

Audrey Fischer
Audrey Fischer  
12/17/2013 9:39:54 PM
User Rank Village Voice
Re: Visions of the future
Show me the plan for a city with starlight.

Flanagan55
Flanagan55  
12/11/2013 12:15:44 PM
User Rank Village Voice

Great Stuff!

wbalthrop
wbalthrop  
12/9/2013 5:12:52 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Visions of the future
To my knowlege he's been talking about it for many years. The first documented mention is in his book dated 2002: http://www.amazon.com/The-Best-That-Money-Cant/dp/0964880679

He's doing his best to get the word out.

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