Now that the Environmental Protection Agency has fulfilled its mission of making a mess out of the coal industry and the energy sector in general, forget further cleanup of the mess the World War II era industrialization made, EPA Chief Gina McCarthy is talking about tackling another menace of modern life. Light Pollution.
See, all those flares from gas and oil wells are illumining the plains and interfering with the great observation areas for star gazers.
“Well, this is another thing that’s been called to our attention for satellites,” McCarthy answered. “The imagery of the United States at night shows all those flares from oil and gas in places that are in the middle of nowhere. It is startling to me, to see the change in the night sky.”…
“Go in the big world and see how vast it is, and get a sense of yourself in it,” she added. “It changes your perspective forever. And you’re absolutely right. That’s one of the reasons why we have to be worried about light pollution. It’s in our portfolio, and we’re thinking about it and there are steps we can take, but it needs to be on everybody’s mind because the way in which we disconnect ourselves from the natural world means that my job gets harder and harder.”
I beg Ms. McCarthy’s pardon, but as a resident of a biggish city that is 45 miles from the middle of nowhere in any direction, head out to farmland of southern Illinois and the flares from the oil wells in no way interfere with seeing the tendrils of the Milky Way. The stars are mighty bright out there beyond where the lights of the big city can reach. In the city, just the major constellations are visible, but go out to the empty space along the interstates, and the concept of light pollution is obviously a big city issue. There’s not enough of the flares to make a difference. Connecting with nature goes well beyond this.
Now the EPA has “light pollution” – as in too many of them burning all at the same time – in its “portfolio.” Oh, joy. Just like they had regular old incandescent light bulbs in their sights and have sold compact fluorescents to the public with the idea that the darn things use less energy. When one gets broken, the owner has to call a HAZMAT team due to the mercury content, but energy is being saved. Those of us with visual perception disorders walk around with migraines, can’t see, and fall asleep in the middle of the day when around them, but energy is being saved.
One always has to look at the bright side, right?
So, now that light pollution looks to be the next target in the roving EPA mission, be ready for the government to tell us that our homes and businesses are too bright, and are disrupting the circadian rhythms of the people around us who can’t sleep after caffeinating themselves all day, and using their own electronic devices and noisemakers until their brains can’t shut down. (Night owls better invest in blackout drapes.) Can’t wait for this ridiculousness to be debated in Congress.