There is one positive effect to the ongoing financial crisis: cities are turning off street lights. And its not just cities, states and businesses have downsized producing less light at night. This is happening to save money, both now and long term maintenance costs.
In my opinion this is having a profound effect on light pollution. For the first time in decades the rate of increasing light pollution has significantly changed. It is possible the extent of light pollution has decreased slightly, even if just a small amount. For example, this year Colorado Springs, CO is turning off 8,000 to 10,000 streetlights (1) . That is a significant reduction in light pollution around that city! I’d like to see this trend continue at ALL cities.
Perhaps things will be looked at differently now, do we really need so much wasteful lighting? Every light costs money to operate, do we really need to waste this money? Another way to reduce electricity usage and stimulate things a bit would be to replace outdated street lights with better designs. Not just streets but also parking lots where the photo on the right was taken. This light post is a good example of modern design with full light cutoff and high efficiency bulbs. It will light the parking area well with a minimum of glare and waste.
This is really a win-win situation right now. Save the night sky, save energy, and save money.