Democrats' Convention Logo Hints at Light Pollution in Denver

Or does it?

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Thinking Harder reader Robert Wagner of Kansas City shared an interesting tongue-in-cheek observation yesterday about the Democratic National Convention Committee's logo (below). "I was wondering if anyone else noticed the logo for the DNC," he E-mailed me. "I think it has a little Light Pollution in it. (Orange Sky?)"

Sure enough, the warm tones that appear in the logo over a jagged blue field, which I take to be the Rockies surrounding Denver, do make the logo vaguely resemble a photo (bottom right) that Wagner took in Weston Bend State Park, Mo. In a follow-up E-mail, he waggishly added: "I am pleased that the DNC has chosen to illuminate the problem of Light Pollution through their conference logo. However, I am unclear if the Future of America they are proposing will have more or less Light Pollution."

He's being playful, of course. But he's quite serious about fighting excessive lighting. Wagner conceptualized an article of proposed state legislation, the Missouri Night Sky Protection Act, which he says would apply to 49 protected areas across the state and limit unneeded artificial illumination within their boundaries. Sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats in the Missouri House of Representatives, he says, the bill was introduced this year but did not make it out of committee. He expects it to be reintroduced in 2009. "Leadership from both parties," he wrote, "is needed when the starry vista above America's most protected places has been reduced to an orange twilight."

While light pollution might not have been on the minds of Democratic convention organizers or their graphic designers, it has penetrated the consciousness of some federal legislators. Recently, a letter on the subject, addressed to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and signed by 11 members of Congress, crossed my desk. John Culberson, Gabrielle Giffords, Steve Israel, Todd Akin, Nancy Boyda, Sam Farr, Terry Everett, Raúl Grijalva, Phil Hare, Jim McDermott, and Lamar Smith signed the letter, dated July 30.

It reads, in part: "We request that the Environmental Protection Agency consider...the environmental, safety, and health effects of light pollution...expand discussion of well-designed (and thus energy-efficient) outdoor lighting in Energy Star publications and standards...[and] support education about light pollution."

For more on light pollution, read the U.S. News article "Turning Out the Lights."