Prescription For Light Pollution

by Tammy Plotner on June 19, 2009


There’s good news ahead for dark sky supporters – a real prescription for light pollution. It’s called Resolution 516: Advocating and Support for Light Pollution Control Efforts and Glare Reduction for Both Public Safety and Energy Savings. What’s it all about and how did it turn out? Then step inside… Where it’s dark at last.

Resolution 516 asks our American Medical Association to: (1) advocate that all future outdoor lighting be of energy efficient designs to reduce waste of energy and production of greenhouse gasses that result from this wasted energy use; (2) support light pollution reduction efforts and glare reduction efforts at both the national and state levels; and (3) AMA support efforts to ensure all future streetlights be of a fully shielded design or similar non-glare design to improve the safety of our roadways for all, but especially vision impaired and older drivers.

Your Reference Committee heard unanimous testimony in support of this resolution. Excessive light pollution comprises an inefficient use of energy and is a public health hazard for drivers, as well as an environmental disruption for several species. .In addition, it was acknowledged that several states have light pollution measures currently enacted and that national legislation on this issues is pending. Your reference committee recognizes the important environmental and public health implications of this resolution.

The American Medical Association, AMA, has officially approved the following lighting resolutions on June 15, 2009. These resolutions are now official AMA Policy:

RESOLVED – That our AMA advocate that all future outdoor lighting be of energy efficient designs to reduce waste of energy and production of greenhouse gasses that result from this wasted energy use, and be it further

RESOLVED – That our AMA develop and enact a policy that supports light pollution reduction efforts and glare reduction efforts at both the national and state levels; and be it further

RESOLVED – That our AMA support that all future streetlights will be of a fully shielded design or similar non-glare design to improve the safety of our roadways for all, but especially vision impaired and older drivers.

When and where will these changes begin to take place? We don’t know yet – but what we do know is the world is finally beginning to take a step in the right direction. Thanks to efforts from folks like the New England Light Pollution Advisory Group (NELPAG) and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), educating our leaders and people who can take action about the affects of light pollution seems to be “just what the doctor ordered”.

About 

Tammy is a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status.

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