A century ago, you could walk outside anywhere at night and see all the stars and the beauty of the Milky Way. Nowadays, due to the huge advancement in technology and electricity, not many people can experience this natural aesthetic of our dark skies. They have lost this experience to light pollution.
What is light pollution?
Light pollution or photopollution is excessive illumination of the night sky by artificial lights. The three types of light pollution are glare, light trespass and skyglow. Glare is when lighting affects the public’s health. For example, when glare light hits the eye it can possibly cause temporary blindness. Light trespass occurs when unwanted light enters one’s property. For example, unwanted light shines into the bedroom window of a person trying to sleep. Skyglow refers to the combination of reflected light that escapes into the sky.
What are the consequences of light pollution?
One of the main effects of light pollution is disruption of ecosystems. It poses a threat to some nocturnal species who hide from predators making them very vulnerable and possibly leading to their extinction. In addition, research has also shown that light pollution confuses birds who migrate, due to their phototaxis (attraction to light). When such migrants are surrounded by a lot of light they will slow down and start circling the light source, which leads to a higher mortality rate due to the collisions that occur with brightened buildings. Finally, one of the largest effects of photopollution is it’s interference with the natural sleep cycles of many species, including humans. If these species are exposed to light while sleeping then their production of the sleep hormone melatonin starts to decrease, which tends to lead to insufficient sleep and other health problems.
Lighting is also responsible for at least one-fourth of all electricity consumption worldwide. Over illumination can create energy wastage, which cost a lot and emits huge amounts of carbon.
Overall, before I wrote about this subject I had no idea that light pollution even existed, which is why more awareness needs to be brought to this issue. In order to decrease the effects of light pollution, every individual must use energy efficient light bulbs and only use them when they’re really needed.