Environmental Ethical Issues

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Environmental Ethics Issues 1

Environmental Ethical Issues

SOC120

Environmental Ethics Issues 2

Today, we live in the country in which we have lost much of our view of the universe. The view is often substantially diminished even for people who live in smaller towns and rural areas. The spectacular view of the night sky that our ancestors had on clear dark nights no longer exists. The great increase in the number of people living in urban areas has resulted in a rapid increase in urban sky glow due to poorly designed, inefficient outdoor lighting, brightening the heavens to such an extent that the only view most people have of the Milky Way is when they are well away from cities. This excess light in the sky has an adverse impact on the environment and seriously threatens to remove forever one of humanity's natural wonders, our view of the universe.  This sky glow that adversely affects the environment and compromises astronomical research is called light pollution. It is wasted light that does nothing to enhance nighttime safety, utility, or security. Such wasted light only serves to produce glare, clutter, light trespass, light pollution, and wastes energy, money, and natural resources in the process, all the while creating additional pollution at the source where the wasted energy is produced. I am concerned with the Fisk and Crawford power plants that are located around my neighborhood. These power plants are the two largest sources of particulate-forming air pollution in Chicago and contribute to the area exceeding federal health standards for particle pollution. Because they were built during the 1950s, they were grandfathered in and exempted from federal regulations outlined by the 1977 Federal Clean Air Act. So because of a loophole

Environmental Ethics Issues 3

they continue to illegally pollute and poison us legally, when it should have stopped over 30 years ago.

The Fisk and Crawford plants spew more than 17,000 tons of deadly toxins into the air annually and take a huge health toll on residents of the area. Chicago's asthma hospitalization rate is double the national average. A Harvard School of Public Health study found that air pollution from the two coal-fired plants causes more than 40 deaths, 550 emergency room visits, and 2,800 asthma attacks annually. I would fight for closure of these old 20th century power plants and fight throughout our state for new 21st century renewable energy plans for the all of our future energy needs.

The negatives associated with light pollution include:
• Energy waste. We waste an astronomical amount of energy and money by all this bad lighting, shining it where it is not needed or wanted (including up into the sky) and by using energy inefficient light sources and lighting designs. In the United States alone, over One Billion Dollars is wasted every year just to light up the night sky.  In a small city for example over $200,000 is wasted annually on its municipally owned street lights alone! This waste is totally unnecessary, since there are cheap and efficient substitutes. • Glare. Glare never helps visibility, but it is far too common in all of our cities and in most lighting everywhere. We should strive for and accept only a glare free environment. Let's not be blinded by glare. Far too much present day lighting has glare; it is always bad. 

Environmental Ethics Issues 4

• Light trespass. Many present lighting installations bother us as much or more than they help. The wasted light shines into our yards, our windows, even our telescope buildings. As with noise pollution, we don't need any of these intrusions. Such lighting is not best serving the purpose for which it was installed. • A trashy looking, confusing nighttime environment. We should, all of us, be striving for an attractive nighttime environment, just as we should be doing in the daytime. Such poor...
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