With the rising development of technology, inquiries are made as to what pre-existing technologies or practical systems should be considered obsolete. It is a common question one faces when advancing technology. Is our old way of doing things necessary?
One good example comes from the utility of lighthouses, which helps to assure safe navigation along coastlines (“Pharology”). These towers of light act like a beacon towards incoming ships, relaying messages to them as they come in. However, with the development of advanced GPS systems installed on many ships and other navigational tools being used along coastlines, the question then becomes: do we really need lighthouses anymore? I believe that we need lighthouses as both an educational establishment for those interested in the idea or in improving the idea of navigation and to primarily act as backup system, in case any system at all fails.
Lighthouses have been around for a very long time. These towers house many stories that are waiting to be told or have never been told at all, either inscribed within the lighthouse itself or passed down to the descendants of the owners of each lighthouse. Each story of each lighthouse is different and their science, although bearing resemblance, is also differing in several different characteristics. Some lighthouses use oil lamps, gas lamps, and, more commonly now, electric lamps to bring forth light onto the sea (Clingan). They have come a long way, and, as a result, should be given credit to the history that they possess, even through all the mistakes. Lighthouses, other than being a helpful navigational tool, are very educational facilities that allows those who wish to make navigation better to compare and contrast the various issues and success stories lighthouses possess and to inspire those who have not been entranced by a lighthouse’s passing light, even if it was not its original intent. They are one that should be taken into consideration first, before even think of attempting to replace them with something better, as they would serve to be a beautiful backup system, if deemed necessary.
Countless records have come and gone where sailors have been assisted, and thereby saved, by lighthouses when navigating in the pitch black darkness of the night in the unforgiving waters of the ocean. However, new tools to help with navigation, such as government-mandated buoys and lights, provide even more assistance in securing their landfall or departure (US Department of Commerce, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It would be safe to assume that since something better exists in its place to help people navigate along coastlines, that lighthouses should be replaced as to not have wasted resources just sit there inactive. However, lighthouses, above all else, are the most reliable backup systems out there. For example, say the GPS system runs out of electricity, and the buoys and charts are nowhere to be found. It would make it very hard to navigate along the coastline without such tools, but lighthouses are always present to help guide sailors along the way. If they were not present, then the sailor would have nothing to help guide them and might result in their demise or tremendous inconvenience.
Lighthouses have proven to be valuable assets on coastlines. They not only serve as educational tools to help pave the way for improved navigational technologies or to merely elucidate people their importance, but they serve as an excellent back-up for when current, improved technologies fail. They are necessary structures and must be preserved, just as history books are preserved in many libraries and how screwdrivers are kept even with the invention of drills. We may be advancing our ways of thinking and current technology, but if all else fails, we will still have a place left in our human history that we can fall back to, so that we will not be left in the dark.
Clingan, Ian C. “Lighthouse.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 27 June 2017, www.britannica.com/technology/lighthouse.
“Pharology.” Pharology – How Lighthouses Work – H11, Jazz-Fusion Books, www.pharology.eu/.
US Department of Commerce, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Do We Still Need Lighthouses?” NOAA’s National Ocean Service, NOAA, 1 Aug. 2018, oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/lighthouse.html.