Recently, I was surprised to see that all the streetlights in our neighbourhood were switched on even when there was day light. During the summer months, daylight fades away much later in the evening and I think streetlights should also be switched on later in the evening.
Our attitude toward lights in the night has not advanced much past those of our ancestors. We feel safer with the lights on. We think that the brighter a room is, the better, and if nobody is around to stop us it is not an issue.
But we can do much better. The biggest hurdle is to change the mindset of people, who are used to having their world filled with the glare of lights, sadly unaware of the financial and environmental costs of that scenario.
Some people are aware of the problems and are making great strides in creating efficient, responsible lighting techniques. But unfortunately, there is a huge infrastructure of primitive lighting in place that needs to be addressed.
The total amount of electricity consumed by outdoor lighting is massive. Besides ending the use of energy-wasting light fixtures, we need to analyse our whole perspective on outdoor lighting, keeping in mind the true costs of large-scale energy consumption. Those costs are not just the high utility bills, but also the steep costs that future generations will pay because of our disregard for the environment.
Electricity usage has definite negative effects on the environment. More research needs to be done toward the goal of quantifying just how much light is needed to effectively engage in various activities.
Current research is beginning to show that the colour composition of artificial light seems to have a great deal of effect on our visual perception; further understanding of this will enable us to design the most energy-efficient lighting for various situations.
I urge the authorities to implement new ways to ensure we do not waste our light energy in such a way.
The reader is a student based in Abu Dhabi.
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