Light Pollution Hurts Us All

What Is Light Pollution?

Light Pollution is the illumination of the night skies by mankind. We are all responsible for the causes of Light Pollution yet very few of us understand the cause and consequences of Light Pollution.

Simply put, Light Pollution is caused by manmade light sources point up or reflecting upwards.

cityscape
Although picturesque, cityscapes of all sizes create Light Pollution

billboard

Highway billboards shine light upwards, wasting as much as 85% of the energy consumed

Light Pollution wastes energy, disrupts wildlife and whites out our naturally dark skies. Light pollution is a new term to most people

How Does Light Pollution Hurt Us?

Nocturnal animals that come out and make nighttime their “daytime” suffer the most. Deer fall prey to their natural predators more easily. Mice and other nocturnal rodents are easier for owls to see. Hatchling sea turtles use the moon to guide them to the safety of the ocean but bright city lights lure them away from the ocean.

Recent studies have found a link between breast cancer and bedrooms illuminated by Light Pollution.

Fewer than 2 in 5 children born today will ever see the Milky Way in their lifetimes. Less than ½ of the population of North America, Japan, Europe, India and other populated locations can see the Milky Way from their backyards.

night sky
Night skies are naturally beautiful

US
Light Pollution in the United States at night from the ISS

HOW CAN WE STOP LIGHT POLLUTION?

Look At Your Home

Check your home at night. Do you have light sources pointing up or horizontally? Do you really need 60 watts of light when 20 watts will work? Are your exterior lights under eaves?

light
Bad and good light sources

Get together with your neighbors and evaluate all of the light sources in your neighborhood.

Look At Your City

Take a look at your community. Are flag poles illuminated from the ground rather than from the top? Are billboards illuminated from the top rather than from the bottom? Does your community have lighting ordinances that reduce or eliminate certain Light Pollution sources? Consider going to a city council meeting and suggesting changes to ordinances if necessary.

As an example, Flagstaff, Arizona has had strict lighting ordinances since the early 1960’s. Any clear night of the week a person can stand in the middle of highway 66, downtown Flagstaff and see the milky way. The Flagstaff police department reports a lower crime rate than many comparable sized cities.

Become an advocate for your community. Ask business owners who contribute to Light Pollution to make changes to their exterior lighting to become more dark sky friendly. Investigate the subject of Light Pollution and offer to make presentations on the subject to middle and high school students.
Additional Resources

NASA
http://www.penny4nasa.org/2013/07/09/light-pollution-and-nasa-combating-the-dark-side-of-light/

International Dark-Sky Association

International Dark Sky Association

The Ottawa Centre’s Light Pollution Abatement Program http://ottawa-asc.ca/articles/dick_robert/lpap/lpab.html

The Journal Of The Royal Astronomical Society Of Canada
http://unihedron.com/projects/darksky/berry/berry.htm

Neighbor-Friendly Lighting
http://neighborfriendlylighting.com/

Lowes Home Improvement Centers
http://www.lowes.com/cd_good+neighbor+lighting+FAQs_1346347712246_

Urban Lighting, Light Pollution and Society
https://books.google.com/books?id=V7wbBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA195&lpg=PA195&dq=light+pollution+abatement&source=bl&ots=1lh_0TTJA0&sig=38LSKYLdhJr463uS2pooY6-jHLA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi9w8r2m-fMAhXM7IMKHRX0AXk4ChDoAQgxMAM#v=onepage&q=light%20pollution%20abatement&f=false

Light Nuisances – Ambient Light, Light Pollution, Glare
http://mrsc.org/Home/Explore-Topics/Legal/Regulation/Nuisances-Regulation-and-Abatement/Light-Nuisances-Ambient-Light-Light-Pollution-Gl.aspx

How Does Outdoor Lighting Cause Light Pollution?
http://www.delmarfans.com/educate/basics/lighting-pollution/

Dark Sky Society
http://www.darkskysociety.org/

 

About coveranger

"One's happiness depends less on what he knows than on what he feels." - Liberty Hyde Bailey

Posted on May 27, 2016, in Astronomy, Earth Science + Technology, Environmental Education, Wildlife and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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