I just had my first experience with the Northern Lights. In the dark background of almost new moon night the slowly moving phantom of green light looked very majestic. The sad part of the scene that I could not help notice was how polluted the sky was with the ambiance light from the city. This was already 1:00 in the morning and most people were probably already a couple of hours into their sleep and I could not help wonder for whom are all this light lit? This made me think of the topic of consumerism and all the bleak picture of its impact presented in the documentary “Story of Stuff”. As shown in the documentary one of the characteristics of consumerism is the possession and use of goods and services even though they are not necessary. Simple logic tells that other than the street lights and the lights in places like hospitals, airport and fire brigade it does not make sense to leave the lights lit for the whole night. Whatever other use the excessive city light might have, it can be made such that the light is lit when required. Technology like motion sensors can be used to make the light use more efficient. In essence, it seems very logical for me to think that it is just an extension of mindset plagued with consumerism that the night lights are lit in the city although there is no need for them. Last week when I was in Tanzania even during the quarter moon I could see the Milky Way, the Big Dipper, the Orion Belt and some planets fairly easily. But here in Helsinki due to the artificial lights even in new moon night one has to struggle to find the stars. As the famous American artist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes puts forth, “If the people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live life a lot differently.” I hope that one day due to our efforts and enlightenment from courses such as this we will be able give our future generation an unpolluted sky where they can enjoy the stars and the majestic Northern lights from their backyards, even in Helsinki.
And here is what I saw from Espoo.