The City of Calgary is currently replacing its streetlights with low – wattage bulbs citing the following:
"Energy prices reached an all time high in
January 2001. The streetlight system is
The City's single largest electricity
consumer. The City needed to find a way
to reduce costs in operating the streetlight
system. By going to lower wattage fixtures,
we will use less energy which will help
keep operating costs down. Using less
electricity reduces the greenhouse gas
emissions from gas and coal-burning
generators. When all the residential
streetlights have been replaced, carbon
dioxide emissions will be reduced by
approximately 16,000 tonnes a year."
At the same time we must recognize the growth that is taking place in cities not only in North America but also the rest of the world. The world when viewed from space is spectacular. We see cities lit up at night for security reasons, glowing brightly. 90% (or some large number) of the populace is sleeping. We are lighting the cityscape for the criminals and the security forces employed to protect us against them.
As the quote form the City of Calgary above notes:
"The streetlight system is the City's single largest electricity
The SINGLE LARGEST CONSUMER of electricity is the streetlight system. Security of property and persons is undeniably an important concern, and not until the devastation implied by global warming is realized will citizens and property owners act to turn out the lights. Only when they have weighed the relative costs inherent in the two scenarios will they act.
Worse, 90% of electricity in Alberta is produced by burning COAL.
On the one hand there is the actual cost of loss to property through break-ins under cover of darkness, and other night time crimes, including muggings, etc.
On the other hand is the more widespread and insidious costs of global warming, such as higher food costs, water shortages, losses due to fires (uncontrolled because of water shortages) and so on. Actually the list is extensive but space prevents me listing all of them here.
At present, you can sleep soundly in Calgary because you can park your new SUV under a streetlight where it will be safe – thieves prefer to steal cars parked under cover of darkness. Of course if you didn't drive a gas-guzzling, CO2 emitting monster in the first place, and went to bed at a decent hour you wouldn't need the street lights in the first place. But that would be a lifestyle change wouldn't it?
Only when it is realized that ignoring global warming will cost more than keeping the lights burning all night will people be willing to turn out the night lights and return to what it was like in the 19th century – when there were only 1 or 2 billion people on the planet. Overpopulation is an intrinsic part of the climate change / global warming problem, but that's for another post, another day.