A Scientists Who Studies The Interactions Of Plants And Animals How Light Pollution Can Affect the Environment

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How Light Pollution Can Affect the Environment

We have all heard about water and air pollution. Moreover, most people would not argue that they are indeed a problem. However, light may be the single source of pollution overlooked by the average consumer. This may be because the average person does not think “easy” when the word pollution comes up in the news or in conversation. After all, it’s just light isn’t it? No, it’s actually not that simple. Light pollution is defined as the illumination of the night sky due to artificial light that is scattered around, it is also known as sky glare. Unnecessary lighting not only wastes massive amounts of electricity, but also negatively affects wildlife.

Light pollution, also called skyglow, is defined as light that strays into the night sky and causes a glow over urban/suburban areas. It also refers to the light that is

refracting into the surrounding atmosphere. This refraction is strongly related to the wavelength of light. Rayleigh scattering, which makes the sky appear blue during the day, also affects the light that comes from the ground to the sky and is then redirected to become skyglow, seen from the ground. As a result, blue light contributes significantly more to the brightness of the sky than an equal amount of yellow light. Skyglow is a particular annoyance for astronomers because it reduces the contrast in the night sky to the point where it can even become impossible to see the brightest stars.

So what kind of lighting is harmful? The truth is that there are indoor and outdoor lighting that can be harmful in the long run. This topic has been researched for years and it is well known that indoor fluorescent lighting can cause many health problems such as migraine headaches, fatigue, irritability and many other health conditions. But when it comes to the outdoor environment, security lighting at night poses the biggest threat in terms of light pollution. Additionally, studies have shown that outdoor security lighting does not reduce crime and uses approximately 800 pounds of coal each year per light. Have you ever looked up at the night sky only to see a faint haze of light? This is the perfect example of light pollution. Researchers have been studying this problem for years and have produced actual photographs of lands, cities and rural areas around the world at night. The results spoke for themselves; night light is definitely a problem.

Light that is considered annoying, useless or harmful causes damage to the environment and health, as well as other forms of pollution. Some indoor and outdoor lighting is considered harmful in the long run. such as migraines, headaches, fatigue, irritability and many other health conditions. Approximately 800 pounds of coal are used annually for each light. Outside, light pollution harms nocturnal wildlife.

Continuous lighting can destroy crops, trees and even wildlife. Plants depend on the cycle of light and dark for proper growth. The onset of darkness is crucial for the flowering and reproduction process. Birds have been known to fly into towers and windows at night because of the confusion caused by night lighting. The fact that the night must be dark does not always exist nowadays. In some places like Las Vegas, you can’t even tell

whether it’s night or day, because the billions are so bright that you feel like you’re in another dimension.

Life existed in fixed natural cycles of light and dark, so disrupting these patterns affects many aspects of animal behavior. Light pollution confounds animal navigation, alters competitive interactions, alters predator-prey relationships, and affects animal physiology. Studies suggest that light pollution around lakes prevents zooplankton from eating surface algae, causing algal blooms that destroy lake plants and lower water quality. Night light also interferes with the ability of moths and other nocturnal insects to navigate. Night-blooming flowers that depend on moths for pollination will be affected by nighttime lighting. This leads to the decline of plant species that are unable to reproduce and alter the long-term ecology of an area.

Lights on tall structures disorient migratory birds. The number of birds killed after falling from high towers is estimated to be between 4-5 million per year. The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) works with building owners in Toronto, Canada and other cities to turn off lights during migration periods to reduce bird mortality.

Contrary to popular belief, sea turtles are not attracted to the moon. Instead, they find the ocean receding from the dark silhouette of their dunes and vegetation, a behavior that artificial lights interfere with. The lights can also disorient young seabirds as they leave their nests and fly out to sea.

Night frogs and salamanders are also affected. Since they are nocturnal, they wake up at night. Light pollution causes salamanders to come out of hiding later, giving them less time to mate and reproduce.

So to do your bit for the environment, make sure your outdoor lighting complies with the lighting regulation. This is meant to only illuminate the ground beneath them and never shine onto a neighboring property or the night sky. Second, making sure your exterior lights are only on when necessary. Lighting from dusk to dawn should be strictly avoided. Third, reduce the wattage of your light bulbs. The human eye is remarkable in its ability to adapt to the amount of light present. Too much light can be overwhelming and bright, actually reducing visibility. Even a small power reduction will reduce light pollution.

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