The dark ages are returning to Europe…literally. Seventy five percent of Britain’s councils have decided to turn off or dim street lamps. This decision has been reached in order to reduce government spending and meet climate change targets.
This move is similar to the blackouts of the 1970’s, and 43 percent of town hall bosses have already agreed to turn off the lights.
Twelve percent have chosen to dim the lights in their councils.
Another 19 percent of local officials are considering some type of blackout but have not made a firm decision as to what they will do yet.
If these other councils follow suit, nearly three-fourths will soon be reducing lighting to cut local costs.
There are 7.5 million streetlamps in Britain and they account for over 750 million dollars in government spending. This number is five times more than was spent just five years ago, and energy prices are continuing to increase rapidly. Essex County Council has saved close to two million dollars last year by shutting off just 1,600 of its 28,000 street lights. Providing lighting is considered a service. There are no laws obligating the government to light the streets.
Will the United States soon follow suit? While on the surface this might sound like a thrifty idea, it has some serious problems. First and foremost is the safety issue. Crime has already seriously increased since the recession began, and many cities have been forced to reduce their police force due to budget cuts. Let’s do a simple math equation. Dark Street + Reduced Police Force+ Desperate People =? The answer is of course… increased crime. The movie A Clockwork Orange comes to mind. While this might be an extreme example, dark streets could become a haven for violent crime. (Hopefully Obama will hold off on some of the restrictive gun laws he would like to pass.)
Would you want your daughter’s college blacked out in the evening when she is walking back to her dorm after class? What about the safety of our young people? In the wintertime, it is already dark when the older children in our neighborhoods get off the school bus.
Traffic safety presents another serious issue with this plan. A review of 14 scientific trials conducted by the U.S., Britain, Australia, and Germany indicated that turning off the street lights could triple the incidence of fatal accidents.
There has to be better and safer ways to cut government spending. We can start with our politician’s paychecks. (Let’s pay each politician the median salary workers in their state, county, or city earn, to start off.)
Now the economic issue is only one of the reasons Britain is instituting these blackouts. There are green reasons as well. Their plan is to NOT use what they already have in order to conserve energy and thereby save the planet from all the evil things the great environmental sage Al Gore has predicted. This is a Band-Aid solution that will not meet the energy needs of next week, let alone our children’s generation. The only logical way to continue to save money this way is to increase the number of blackouts as energy prices continue to escalate. It’s like people who drive huge vehicles. When gas prices rise they have the choice to save money one of two ways. They can reduce the amount they drive or buy a more fuel-efficient model—a short-term solution versus a long-term solution.
Our government s needs to look at ways to reduce energy costs that are permanent. I was recently at the new super-sized grocery store in town and noticed the lights in each row stay off until a shopper triggers them by walking into an aisle. This is not rocket-science technology but it is a much safer way to handle the street light issue. Efficient, practical, and waste free. Wait…isn’t that our government’s motto?
Other articles in this issue:
- It’s All Suspect….Or Is it Just Suspicious?
- Common-Sense Strategies for Self-Defense
- What More Dollars In The Economy Means For You