When an astronaut took nighttime pictures of Europe from the International Space Station this year, one nation stood out far below on the twinkling surface of the earth: Belgium. It is the only country in Europe to keep nearly all of its 2.2 million streetlights on through the night, making it a world leader in light pollution, and easily identifiable even from space. The phenomenon has been a source of ridicule and humor in Belgium for decades. But since the images were published in May, some have also begun to ask a simple but tough question: Why? The official explanation is that it helps road safety and provides security. But critics doubt this and say the phenomenon sheds light not only on Belgium’s roads but also on a mutually profitable relationship among its politicians, electricity distributors and main energy supplier, Electrabel. Belgium’s share of energy from renewables is around 7.8 percent, about half the European Union-wide average, while the government has extended until at least 2025 Electrabel’s permits for seven nuclear reactors that date from the ’70s.
New York Times 12th Dec 2017 read more »