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Thursday, December 8, 2022
FairfaxOpinionLetter: Great Falls should push ahead with dark-skies effort

Letter: Great Falls should push ahead with dark-skies effort

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Editor: I read with interest community concerns in Great Falls that controlling lighting to save the environment could interfere with their right to protect themselves [“Dark Sky at Night Not Everyone’s Delight,” Sept. 22].

Absolutely lighting advocates and the police need to collaborate to educate residents how best to use light to see and to alert, and this is more important than ever with LED technology, which is glare on steroids when misused.

I am in Houston, where we just blast white LED light everywhere, yet both our crime rate and accident rates are way up.

If bright light worked, we would be the safest place in the country. But here is what our light does. The glare of white streetlights and from mis-aimed white security lighting makes our streets seem darker than ever. It obscures the visibility of pedestrians who have no idea they can’t be seen because they are walking in a pool of light.

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White-LED security lighting is in every news story about yet another senseless shooting over a parking place or some other petty argument. We bathe high-crime areas in the whiter light designed to keep people awake at night. Studies have shown that juvenile delinquency, disinhibition and exacerbation of some mental illnesses go up with poor sleep.

So, please, Great Falls, don’t make our mistake. As it turns out, the eye sees more golden shielded light as much brighter on the ground, using far less energy while allowing your eyes to see even unlit areas better.

There are very inexpensive shielded lights available at Home Depot and Lowe’s. If you get one where you choose the light bulb, you can use a very-low-wattage bulb or try the Philips SceneSwitch, which allows you to use brighter soft-white 2700K light when you are entertaining and go all the way down to a subtle amber with just the flip of a switch, no dimmer-switch needed.

And remember that interior light that indicates someone is at home and awake may be more important than exterior light to prevent crime.

We have an informational Website called www.softlighthouston.com with comparative photos and law-enforcement guidance, plus an extremely effective lamp demonstration you can use to show the difference using real light and a couple of action figures. The same light that will protect your dark-sky park will also be far easier to live with.

Deborah Moran, Houston, Texas

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