The artificial lighting of the outdoor spaces is increasing and with it the damage to the flora and fauna as well as to human health. The flood of lights in the cities increasingly prevents us from looking into the depths of space. There are only a few places on earth where the starry sky can still be seen in its natural beauty. What can be done about it?
The world is getting brighter every year
More than 80 percent of the world’s population already lives (as of 2016) under light-polluted skies. In Europe and the USA, it is even 99 percent of the population. The intensity of the artificial light and the size of the illuminated area grow by around two percent every year
The starry sky disappears
Astronomers were the first to notice the downsides of this development, the ability to observe observatories close to large cities has been severely restricted by the flood of lights in recent decades. Today observatories on high mountains far away from megacities have to be protected from light pollution by legal regulations, as the effect of the light bells can extend several hundred kilometers over cities.
Healthier sleep on dark nights
Medicine is also concerned with light pollution. Because the day-night rhythm controls our biological clock. Overdosed, artificial light is a disruptive factor and causes a lower release of melatonin in the brain, which has a stress-relieving effect and signals to the body that it is time to rest and sleep. This can lead to insomnia and other health problems.
Insects are the most obvious victims of light
Everyone knows the image of insects circling around a source of light until they burn up or perish from exhaustion. Migratory birds also collide with illuminated buildings and are distracted from their migration route. In addition, there are other influences on nutrition, reproduction, communication, and periods of rest.
Waste of energy
In addition to the points mentioned, excessive lighting also entails high energy consumption. There is potential for savings here. Urban planning, as well as private individuals, should think about whether lighting is really necessary everywhere, or whether the intensity could be reduced.
What can individuals do?
Reduce the duration and intensity of light outdoors to the necessary level. This saves electricity costs and protects the environment. Irradiating trees disrupt the breeding business of birds. Timers and motion detectors help to save electricity and only provide lighting for as long as necessary. Mounting luminaires at low heights and in a targeted manner leads to less scattered light. We recommend lamps that are open at the bottom and shielded at the top and sides. The light from energy-saving warm white LED lamps does not contain any UV components and is, therefore, more insect-friendly.
In addition to the small improvements that individuals can make to reduce light pollution, it is above all politics and town planning to create a sensible balance between the use of light and environmental protection. I hope this post has brought you closer to the problem of light pollution and I do not hesitate to share this knowledge.