The Good Green Night


A visitor to Earth, skipping over our night-time atmosphere, would be impressed at our city lights. We must be a wealthy lot – look at all that energy we’re simply throwing away!

We’ve grown accustomed to using visible energy to banish the dark, blazing our spotlights into the sky, leaving our roads and cities awash with street light – everything in our power to make night into day. Light pollution is the most visible of our night-time energy squanderings, and as the New Yorker reports, it’s made deeply human activities like stargazing nearly impossible in many areas. (And it’s not just the humans who are affected when we leave the lights burning: I recommend this pdf.)

There’s also the invisible energy we waste. The daytime is bad enough (our growing love-affair with WiFi, for example) but at night, we leave things turned on, plugged in and slurping energy. The US Department of Energy estimates that a full 5% of all American electricity is wasted through electrical devices running on “standby”, and has issued warnings about the environmental damage of these vampire devices.

Let’s shed some light – literally. Quite frankly, it’s about time we rediscovered how much we humans can benefit from candles.  Petroleum-free, of course”¦and if you’re feeling creative, why not make your own?

Image: Fishtail@Taipei

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.