By Joy Reo & Sue Edwards
The CounterAct Climate Change Project
The famous inventor and futurist Buckminster Fuller, said “call me trim tab,” referring to his trim tab invention that enabled large ships to change their course with minimal effort. The phrase is inscribed on his tombstone.
How can we change the calamitous course of our climate emergency? You might already be doing what you can to “de-carbonize,” yet you have a nagging feeling you need to do more, or do something bigger. What would make a meaningful difference? Dig into Project Drawdown’s comprehensive table of solutions for ways to design your life to counteract climate change.
You might be asking yourself, what’s the “low-hanging fruit,” the relatively easy stuff to do? Last week’s CounterAct Climate Change program, The Dangers of Light Pollution, opened our eyes to one of THE biggest and fastest growing environmental problems in the world today — light pollution. It disrupts ecosystems, is harmful to human health and well-being, and, of course, it increases energy consumption. Watch the recording here.
The good news is that it’s reversible, and each of us can make a difference.
There are several things we can do to reduce light pollution in our communities, and they aren’t expensive at all; in fact, they are great ways for property owners and municipalities to save a lot of money on electric bills. Here are some basic solutions for homeowners: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/lighting/lighting-for-citizens/lighting-basics.
Currently the solutions for municipal light pollution are not done on a large scale here in Massachusetts (we are the only state in New England that lacks regulation of publicly-owned/municipal outdoor lighting). Thus far it has been a matter of changing municipal lighting bylaws on a case-by-case basis, which takes a ton of energy, is frustrating, and lacks consistency; it’s a game of “whack-a-mole.” (No offense, we like moles!)
That’s why Tim Brothers and his colleagues at the Massachusetts chapter of the International Dark Sky Association have drafted light pollution legislation regarding publicly funded lighting, which they will submit in February or March. This isn’t their first rodeo with the legislature; they’ve submitted similar legislation in the past. Just because it’s a good, simple, common-sense idea doesn’t mean that all politicians have welcomed it. Some industry organizations have lobbied against it, as have some citizens.
If you live in Massachusetts, please stay tuned to our newsletter and social media channels to track the legislation. Anyone looking for light pollution talking points for policy makers should review this web page: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/lighting/public-policy/policy-makers.
This may be the most easy environmental problem to solve. Why? Because a change today yields a result at the speed of light! We can do this! “Call me trimtab.”
Ten Easy Ways to Educate Yourself and Others About Light Pollution
- Call or email your local state legislators, AND ask your friends, family and neighbors to contact their legislators! Here is the contact info for MA Senate members.
- Education is the key to change. Send our Vimeo recording of Tim’s presentation to your friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, town selectmen, city councilors, landscapers who do hardscape lighting installations, residential and commercial developers, and building architects.
- Talk to your local municipal officials (usually the building commissioner’s office or public works office), about steps they are taking or could take to reduce light pollution.
- Support IDA-MA’s calls to action: https://www.facebook.com/DarkSkyMA
- Join the IDA: https://www.darksky.org/
- Join IDA-MA (it’s automatic if you join IDA and live in MA) https://idamass.wordpress.com/.
- Talk to your town Conservation Committee or Sustainability Committee.
- Need a bylaw? See the bylaw language in Pepperell, MA: https://town.pepperell.ma.us/612/Light-Air-And-Noise-By-Law-Committee.
- Watch the documentary film, Saving the Dark.