I am delighted to know the city of Santa Fe plans a long overdue project to replace outdated streetlights. The cost savings to be gained with energy-efficient lights are an important element of the plan. Reducing energy use and lowering costs are goals any city should work toward, but they should not be the primary drivers. As it exists, the city’s plan raises more questions than answers.
Specifications listed for replacement lights put us in a position where we may end-up overlighting the city because LED type and color temperatures exceed what is necessary for safe, effective lighting. Color temperatures are measured in kelvins (k) on a continuum from warm white to cool white. Warm white 1400k is more amber and cool white 5100k more blue. The current plan calls for 3000k and 4000k lighting to be installed with color temperatures closer to blue. Light housings will be full cut-off and pointed downward. But once emitted, any reflective object — vehicles, roadways, structures, wet-surfaces — will reflect and scatter that light. The answer to the old question about why the sky is blue applies here — except at night, it means there will be more sky glow above Santa Fe, not less.
Beyond a general sense of where the 4000k and 3000k lights would be installed, with 3000k in residential areas and streets and 4000k on main roads, the city’s Implementation Plan doesn’t show specifics. Regardless of location, citizens will experience planned new lighting as brighter and harsh compared to what we have now.
In 2018, Albuquerque initiated a replacement project for their streetlights. Color temperature used there was 3000k to 4000k. And while the city has realized significant cost savings, the amount of sky glow increased. Do we want to be like Albuquerque?
Once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like the pandemic, are something we all want to get quickly behind us. But this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a sensible, night-sky friendly, safe and effective lighting plan deserves time to get right and celebrate without regret. With current technology, replacements may not be necessary for a generation. It won’t cost us more to wait.
Craving Milky Way
Bring back the Milky Way to every backyard. Up to a few years ago, public leaders and organizations agreed that preserving the environment in and around Santa Fe, including the night skies, should be Santa Fe County and city policies.
Now the city is considering raising streetlight output beyond experts’ recommendations and against well-recognized practices. In spite of improved shielding of public lights, this would increase blue light pollution in the skies above Santa Fe and far beyond.
As dark skies are part of the glory of New Mexico, as well as a resource, I urge the city to postpone any decision on this matter until it can hear from experts and the public.
Oppose medical discrimination
I support legislation that opposes medical discrimination: New Mexicans should not be discriminated against for any service if they choose not to get an experimental COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 testing.
The state needs to end its COVID-19 lockdown. Countless lives are being lost and distressed in New Mexico because of suicides, business disruption and preventable poverty, all hinged to economic depression during these chaotic lockdowns based on faulty statistics.
For those who choose not to be injected, services and travel possibilities need to remain equal to those who have received the jab.
Stop mandatory vaccinations
Do not force me to take a vaccine to be employed or to teach or to travel. A mandatory medical procedure has no place in a free country and is a violation of my right to choose what is best for me. Yet our governor has announced the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for educators, health care, child care and nursing home workers, and residents and first responders.
I am not anti-vaccine, but because there are no long-term safety studies, the associated risks are unclear. And logically, because the disease’s high survival rate, I choose not to partake of it now. I am not saying “never.” I am just saying “not now.”
New Mexicans should not be penalized for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition for anything: not now and not ever.
No opinion on news pages
A Feb. 15 headline in the newspaper above the fold reads, “Republican senators chose a poor leader.” I am so very tired of people’s political opinions. The New Mexican is a newspaper, not an opinion rag. We are better served by reading less opinion and more facts, both locally and nationally.
Milan Simonich’s columns would be better placed on the Opinion page, off the front page. The New Mexican has lots and lots of opinion columns. I for one would appreciate more actual news, based on facts, pertaining to the environment, health and local issues.
I’m sure there are lots of local, specific experts who could be persuaded to write fact-filled columns on their area of expertise, especially while sequestered at home.