Electric Lights are Too Expensive—Why Not Brighten the Moon?

By Geoff Manaugh on at

Think of all the power it takes to light up empty car parks at night. Think of how annoying it can be when the sun goes down, yet you didn't finish all your work for the day. Think of how great it would be if we could just extend daytime, reduce the cost of lighting up all those empty streets and garages, and keep our cities as excessively illuminated as they already are today. We should just brighten the moon.

Somewhere between tongue-in-cheek pranksterism and an elaborate design fiction proposal, the so-called FOREO Institute—connected to FOREO, the beauty products firm—has a plan for "transforming the surface of the moon." Just make that thing brighter! Think of the effect this might have on the cosmetics industry, what with all the weird new ways light will bounce off people's skin.

But it's not about selling new lines of make-up; no, it's about saving the world billions of dollars in electric bills. "By increasing the reflectivity of the moon," the Institute explains, "the world can experience brighter nights and decrease the need to use electric lighting in the hours after sunset." BOOM.

Electric Lights Are Too Expensive—Why Not Brighten The Moon?

No problems here, my friends. No interrupted wildlife migration routes, no interruption of our own circadian rhythms, no unintended side-effects. We've already looked at geoengineering schemes as a possible solution to climate change—why not lunar engineering?

While we're at it, let's not just brighten the moon but add mass to it: change tides in the oceans, throw off menstrual cycles, maybe even slow the earth's rotation down by a millisecond and gain a bit more breathing room every day. I can't see anything that might go wrong here, and, luckily, the FOREO Institute has already raised $52,896,400 in play money to see this come true—perhaps from @boredelonmusk. [The FOREO Institute]

Lead image: Ted S. Warren/AP. Comparative moon shot courtesy The FOREO Institute.