The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Henshaw

Discuss the greatest threat to amateur astronomy today

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jomarshall
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Post by jomarshall »

Dear Cliff,

Yes I think you're right there, in a round about way that was what I was trying to get at...to say we are that intelligent and yet that is what it may come to is quite embarassing actually.

As regards for Nero, that's a whole other topic (I did an ancient history degree) so won't debate :lol: but yes, it is rather like that!

Best wishes,

Jo

Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Colin
Some better news for a change.
I attended a lecture about "William Lassell" by Gerard Gilighan of Liverpool AS, who as I know you know has been a tireless worker on behalf of the CfDS. I managed to have a quick word with Gerard who told me that he has recently objected to some excessive extravagant lighting proposals related to a proposed new bit of public art, a large sculpture to be called "The Dream". It is to consist of the vertically stretched head of a young lady. Needless to say as seems usual with all such modern art its proponents want it to be floodlit it and they also want some sky beams blazing away around it. Apparently Gerard made very strong objections to the silly sculpture lighting proposals and the town planners have now decided not to allow the floodlighting and sky-beams to go ahead.
Apparently the sculpture is supposed to be in commemoration of coal mining which once an important industry in the area (near St Helens) and is to be erected at the site of the last working mine in the vicinity(which closed in the 1980s. "The Dream" apparently not only supposedly has widespread approval but the support of the former miners who worked ti the area. I am told that actually 72 miners were involved in approving the sculpure. I personally find it difficult to reconcile a stretched lady's head with coal mining.
Best wishes from Cliff
PS and very well done Gerard

Colin Henshaw
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The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Hi Cliff,

Gerard certainly did well there, and I personally congratulated him over the CfDS Forum.

Concerted action by the CfDS was also responsible for eliminating the "Solar Pyramid," an illuminated folly that was originally going to be installed near Chesterfield. When Chesterfield didn't want it, they tried to relocate it to Dorset, but environmentalist opposition persuaded the local authority to reconsider. Whether or not it will move on somewhere else, I don't know.

Unfortunately these threats are popping up all the time so we have to be vigilant. The latest crass scheme that we are working on is a proposal to floodlight the entire length of Hadrian's Wall. This passes through one of the few remaining dark sky habitats left in England, and is not far from Kielder, where a new astronomical observatory is being built.

What is needed is legislation that prevents these schemes once and for all. That is the only way dark sky conservation will succeed. I have written to the Arts Council, but so far no reply.

As I said before, the CfDS needs more contributors and activists. One of the biggest threats to darks skies is not just light pollution as such, but apathy in the astronomical community. It's no good just complaining about it and doing nothing. We have to stand up and be counted, otherwise our concerns will be trampled on underfoot.

"A luta continua."

Colin.

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Post by mike a feist »

I find the green propoganda pretty irritating -pages in the local pager are really 'holier than thou' especially the insistent going-on about Carbon Footprint - the most horrible two words I can currently think of.
Whatever we do/do not do there are a huge number of ways that humanity can be done-in by, many covered in detail in similar programmes.
Supervolcanoes, earthquake slip in the Canaries, exploding nearby nova, crashing comet/meteor, a global freeze up, etc etc not to mention nuclear extermination or some failed experiment with something by scientists. And of course collapse of society and thence starvation or global pandemic. either natural or escaping from some loboratory. And finally the astronomical demise either by the lost of the Moon as it moves outwards upsetting the angle of the Earth's axis and global climates and the spread of the Sun burning us to a frazzle. Cor, I feel much better now!
Finally the outcome of climate change, altered to read the outcome of weather change is easier to answer. If the weather does not change soon in this country, with its current almost completely cloudy skies parting, I can see the number of telescope sales dropping with that the number of members of astro-societies and amateur astronomers in general, with even less people caring about light pollution. Lots of observers do seem pretty obsessive types and when they cannot indulge their obsessions they will find something else to become obsessed about.
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Colin
You are quite right about the apathy with regards to fighting light pollution by amateur astronomers. Unfortunately I do not see that ever changing having gone on for so long.
Best of luck from Cliff

markt
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Post by markt »

As I woke to the news on the radio this morning it reliably informed me the UK would be experiencing prolonged power cuts in 5 years due to the decommisioning of power stations and not replacing them quick enough.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7618840.stm

It fascinates me to read through the long winded wiffle thats put forward to solve this... I wonder if one day somebody with the 'say so' will just realise we just need to turn some of the lights off that pollute our skies to cut back on our energy consumption...

Maybe, one day if we're lucky... :?
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Colin Henshaw
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The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Henshaw

Post by Colin Henshaw »

What I find disturbing is the number of people, whom I suspect come from a business or commercial background, who still think climate change is a con, and a ruse used by governments to raise more taxes. Stating the evidence is not green propaganda.

Look at a light pollution map of the Earth, and the glow from all these cities. Are you trying to tell me that is not having an effect? They are cooking the atmosphere for certain.

Supervolcanoes, submarine landlides and asteroid impacts are genuine risks that have happened before and will no doubt happen again. Just think of Tunguska. As the human population rises, the potential for distaster related human suffering likewise increases.

I agree that the UK climate has become cloudier, that being one aspect of climate change, and of course it will have a negative impact on astronomy.

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The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Henshaw

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Markt,

Regarding power failures, the Bangladeshis will say "Get used to it." Dhaka can have as many as seven power failures per day, and as many as two at night. In Bangladesh regular power failures come with the territory.

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Re: The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Hen

Post by Eclipse »

Colin Henshaw wrote:What I find disturbing is the number of people, whom I suspect come from a business or commercial background, who still think climate change is a con, and a ruse used by governments to raise more taxes. Stating the evidence is not green propaganda.
The climate is changing, the climate has always been in a state of flux, and the climate will continue to change when mankind (including all the global warming panickers) has finally gone from the face of the Earth.
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Colin Henshaw
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The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Henshaw

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Eclipse,

Yes the climate does fluctuate but only with narrow limits, as exemplified by those changes you mentioned earlier. So since the last glaciation there have been peaks and troughs at various times.

But if global homeostasis is knocked out of kilter, the the consequences could be much more serious.

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The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Henshaw

Post by Colin Henshaw »


sionedward1
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Possible consequences of light pollution

Post by sionedward1 »

Hi all,

I grew up in an age, from the early forties to the mid seventies, when the idea of another ice age coming upon us was pretty much taken as a major calamity on the horizon. And was a view held by many scientists at that time. Now it's all changed.

Observations and discussions about a very dynamic planet, the earth, are extremely complex.

Science at best can only be a probability indicator using what is known at that time, never an absolute.

Sion

Colin Henshaw
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The Possible Consequences of Light Pollution - Colin Henshaw

Post by Colin Henshaw »

Sion,

We do indeed live in a very complex world, but I do feel the ideas I put forward could happen if we are not careful. Further investigation has shown that the causes of glaciation are quite complex with several contributing factors operating.

Polar melting is probably the biggest threat if it displaces the Gulf Stream. Rising sea levels are less so, because it is mainly land ice that contributes with some help from thermal expansion of the oceans through global warming. The major contributor would be the Greenland Ice Cap, and it would take several millennia to melt it all. And then the rise in sea level would only be seven metres. Over that time scale any rise in sea level would be manageable.

The biggest threats are global warming and the population explosion. Light pollution is a major cause of global warming, and the easiest to fix with better technology and more stringent legislation. If we take it out of the equation, we may be just in time, but if we listen to those who preach that global warming is a con, then we may be just too late.

sionedward1
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Possible consequences of light Pollution

Post by sionedward1 »

Hi Colin,

I agree that production of electrical power outside of the nuclear industry is I would say a part-player in global warming. And I also think that over-population will be a major problem in the not too distant future, affecting the whole eco-system that humans are part of. But then on the other hand, no species including us will be here for ever.

My concern in this is that people tend to think that global warming is exclusively man made. I think we are a small part of it but not necessarily the main part.

We're now experiencing polar melting only 10,000 years or so since the last retreat of the glaciers, just a blip in geological time. Research into the long history of the earth seems to show that polar icecaps are not permanent features. And that the average temperature of the earth, for long periods of time, is a few degrees warmer than it is now, and lasts longer than the colder periods.

Although this is not astronomy or even light pollution - it is after all about the dynamic physical workings of a planet orbiting a G-type star, a star that is now well into its middle age.

Cheers, Sion

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Post by astropete »

hi all heres my two pence worth, global climate change is it caused by humans,or is it natural, concider the mt st hellens eruption a few years ago, it spewed out millions of tons of Co, Co2 in one day than what man does in a year, and thats only one volcano, the planet has hundreds. we live on an active planet and as such changes are the norm. dont forget plants were the biggest poluters, ages ago the gas they released into the atmosphere was pure poison, Oxygen. so i belive that the planet is changing as it always has been. i personly fear the depleating Ozone layer that to me is the bigger threat, and as the previous thread states this is an astromical reply, the earth after all is part of the suns family.
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