Wednesday, March 25, 2015

blink and it's gone


A few months ago, we at PBAC were brainstorming ideas for improvements
to off-road bike trails. I suggested it might be possible to submit a grant 
application for solar-powered lighting, to encourage more use of a certain
paved-who-knows-how-long-ago woodsy bike path, especially during winter
months. It was then pointed out to me that this proposal wouldn't get very
far, since wildlife/habitat conservation forces would nix any forest illumination.

A documentary film at PEFF tomorrow (6PM) will explore the very topic of "dark
sky erosion". Brilliant Darkness | Hotaru in the Night explores firefly conservation
efforts in Japan and the US. The film considers the challenges, implications and
significance of night and its crucial role in animal biology and life cycles. The 
screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Emily Driscoll and Karl Fischer.

The library offers other resources for delving into this issue. The 2013 book 
is by Paul Bogard, who can be heard on this All Things Considered radio interview.

From Aeon magazine, an article asking Why does Japanese culture revere insects? 
begins "In Japan, beetles are pets, grasshoppers a delicacy and fireflies are adored".
Hotaru is Japanese for firefly. Japan is said to be "a nation of legendary firefly enthusiasts
where, many centuries ago, noblemen and women enjoyed nighttime firefly-viewing excursions
to the countryside. For the ancient Japanese the firefly was a symbol of both love and war.

Among the library dvd's can be found Grave of the Fireflies - Hotaru No Haka, described
as "an achingly sad anti-war film" - in the words of the late Roger Ebert, "an emotional 
experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation".

Getting back to illumination, it will be interesting to follow developments in infrastructure
as they pertain to bike safety. Here and here are details of innovations in Copenhagen.

Aimed at saving money, cutting the use of fossil fuels and easing mobility, the LED installations 
are part of a growing wireless network of streetlamps and sensors that officials hope will 
help Copenhagen meet its ambitious goal of becoming the world's first carbon-neutral 
capital by 2025. It's all made possible through an array of sensors embedded in the light 
fixtures that collect and feed data into software. The system, still in its early stages, has put 
Copenhagen on the leading edge of a global race to use public outdoor lighting as the backbone 
of a vast sensory network capable of coordinating a raft of functions and services

Here's a short clip touting the benefits of an Intelligent Street Lighting system. More details here.

Aha - the festooning of telephone/utility poles has no end in sight.



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