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Alee Posted - Jan 16 2008 : 10:47:30 AM
Sky’s pretty dark west of Telluride


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Allen Best
Vail, CO Colorado
September 7, 2007

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BLANDING, Utah — Even in mountain towns, where at times it seems you could reach out and grab a few stars, the sky is not nearly the same glittering wealth of stars that Galileo saw. The Milky Way is fast disappearing.

There are, in ski towns and elsewhere, people who feel aggrieved by this diminished night sky. The New Yorker explains that a ranking of dark skies, called the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, has been created. The darkest, a Class 1, such as existed across the world when Galileo lived, today can be found only in such place as the Andes or the Australian outback, but nowhere in the lower 48 states.

The sky above New York City itself is Class 9. On this scale of 1 through 9, most American suburban skies are rated 5, 7 or 7.

Even the very darkest places in the continental United States today are almost never darker than Class 2, and even these places — such as the north rim of the Grand Canyon — are increasingly threatened.

The magazine says that the International Dark-Sky Association, using a variety of measurements, has found that the darkest sky remaining is at the Natural Bridges National Monument, located west of Blanding Utah. This is about 130 miles west of Telluride.

Voluntary tax goes to the Earth
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — A new program called 1 Percent for the Tetons has been launched.

Some 51 businesses have agreed to donate 1 percent of their revenues toward the fund. Community members, in turn, are encouraged to steer their purchases toward participating businesses.

This year, the first for the program in Jackson Hole, collected $100,000, which in turn is being distributed to various projects, from installing solar panels at the local library to mapping pathways.

The program in Jackson Hole is patterned after a program called 1 Percent for the Planet. That program was co-founded by Yvon Chouinard, famed rock climber and founder of the clothing retailing company called Patagonia.

At its core, notes the Jackson Hole News&Guide, the programs recognize that it is almost impossible to do business without having some kind of environmental impact.

The newspaper says the voluntary “earth tax” helps correct a flaw in capitalism, which has a difficult time accounting for what economists called “externalities” such as air and water pollution. “This fouling of the commons frequently occurs without its appropriate cost to businesses and, ultimately, consumers, the earth pays instead.”

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