Yesterday I received an email that I at first thought was a belated April Fools’ joke. The subject line of the message was “NLB calls for an end to artificial lighting.” The NLB, or National Lighting Board, is a lighting industry non-profit. So, it seemed a bit odd that it would be pushing for the elimination of illumination systems.

But, as I read the press release attached to the e-mail, I realized that the NLB had a serious message–albeit one mixed with a little tongue-and-cheek humor. The document, which quotes the bureau’s executive director John Bachner and its president Howard Lewis, seeks to set us straight on lighting terminology. “Artificial lighting is a misnomer; it makes no sense,” the release says. “Artificial things aren’t real. Artificial leather is not leather. It may look like leather, it may feel like leather, it might even smell like leather, but it’s not leather. And the same could be said about artificial glass, artificial wood, and even artificial foods, like artificial crab and artificial cheese. They may be real something, but they’re fake whatever it is they’re trying to appear or taste or smell to be. That’s not the case with lighting,” the document continues. The light we get from electric illumination systems, on the other hand “is real light. There’s nothing artificial about it.”

Thanks NLB for the terminology lesson. The next time I refer to a building’s lighting in a story, I promise to steer clear of the word “artificial!”