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Light at Night: a sign of …

November 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Across energy presentations, versions the following might just be the most common image.

Light at Nights

The globe at night: what does bright really mean?

Variations of this image and discussion have been around for decades.  This post, while reflecting long-time thinking, was sparked from presentations (such as slide 2) at the excellent Green Growth Knowledge Platform annual conference with much top-notch economic analysis of climate, sustainability, and clean energy/water challenges and opportunities (along with more valuable networking opportunities/interactions).

Bright areas, in short, show higher density + higher economic strength (developed) communities.  Brightest areas include Western Europe, Japan, and the East Coast of the United States.

Dark areas are low density and/or low-income economies. Sub-Saharan Africa (notably not South Africa) and

“The World At Night” provides a surrogate to discuss economic development (and, conversely, lack of development).  The take-away one is expected to take: dark is bad and we need as much of the world as bright as possible.

There is substantive truth here: the bright areas have electricity, have clean waters supplies, economic and job opportunities, health care infrastructures, higher educational achievement, greater stability, higher life expectancy, and a plethora of other ‘life is better’ measures. (Even if the climate change (and other pollution) impacts are lower in the dark space … which is is used by those fighting climate action as a (false flag) argument against climate mitigation efforts.)

The basic message which we are expected to understand on seeing the image:

  • Bright is good.
  • Dark requires development to become bright.

There is another way of looking at this image.  Very simple, human generated lumens reaching space is waste — no one flips the light switch with the desire to have Martians see them light up their bedroom.  While, again, there is truth that ‘light’ represents developed areas, there is also a reality that the light represents a significant opportunity: how can humanity become more efficient in lighting to cut wasted energy lighting the heavens.





Earth at Night, North America [hd video]

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Tags: Energy