NASA's "Black Marble" Photos of Earth: Beautiful or Appalling? (Survey)
NASA Earth Observatory/Public Domain
Jaymi describes the "Black Marble" photos as "lovely" and "beautiful."
When Alex Steffen looked at a similar picture a few years ago, he wrote in Worldchanging:
Maps of brightness illustrate light pollution and energy waste. The blazing lights our satellites photograph while whizzing above us in their orbits, well, that's light that's serving no useful purpose (unless you want to think of our glowing cities as a form of art meant for distant eyes). Light seen from space is bouncing off illuminated surfaces, or being shone directly from bulbs aimed up. Neither is helping us on the ground see our cities better.
After looking at the difference between North and South Korea last year, I wrote in TreeHugger:
People used to think that belching factory smokestacks were a sign of progress and a booming economy; now we think of them as pollution. [Derek] Thompson and [Donald] Rumsfield think of the bright lights of South Korea as a sign of wealth and development; It is really all waste, light going up into space instead of down where you need it.