Tuesday, December 6, 2011

City Lights

If you really want to gain an appreciation for just how vast the Phoenix metropolitan area is, you really need to get up in the air, preferably at night. Two nights ago, I had the window seat as we flew in at 11:00 pm to this dazzling display, which to a very minor degree, is probably enhanced by holiday lights. The city lights stretch out beyond the horizon as you descend into Sky Harbor airport, with patches of darkness marked by several mountain preserves, and long black ribbon winding through all of it that is the Central Arizona Project canal.

This constant illumination was my bane last spring while experiencing chronic insomnia. Convinced that the light beaming into my bedroom at 2:00 a.m. was to blame, I decided to drive around the neigborhood one night and find out what nefarious activities were at the source, or at the least, what mid-night highway project was being done so as not to inconvenience daytime commuting. Much to my dismay, there was nowhere not lit, save for the clear sky above, whose stars are nearly obliterated by the glare from below. The shopping centers, churches, parking lots and two schools within a mile of our home, the freeway, every street, every cul-de-sac, and most people's homes were literally burning midnight oil. There was no construction project. I went back home to bed and laid awake wondering: How much energy could be saved if we convinced the various folks who control all these lights to just shut them off for even one hour each night?

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