Towers of house lights, office tower lights, store lights, floodlights, streetlights, car lights, stadium lights, illuminated signage, decorative lights. Artificial light at night, indoors and outdoors, is second nature to us. But now that we’ve conquered darkness we’re learning that darkness is necessary to life on Earth – and becoming scarce. For billions of years, all life has relied on Earth’s predictable rhythm of day and night. It’s encoded in the DNA of all plants and animals.
Humans have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the night.” http://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/wildlife/
Considering that circadian (from Latin circa dies = around day) rhythms regulate our physiology and the life functions of our planet’s plants and wildlife, it’s essential for global health that we rein in our appetite for what is being exploited as an endless resource. We won’t be deprived of artificial light when we join the advocates whose mantra is “not more light, better light.”
The easiest way to prevent light trespass beyond our homes and businesses, aside from turning off unnecessary lighting, is to minimize the unintended projection and scattering of light from poorly aimed and poorly designed fixtures; we might also promote the old fashioned habit of pulling curtains or shades over windows at nightfall. Citizens must demand that illuminated walkways, roadways and other public spaces install shielded fixtures that face down, directing light to the ground where illumination is needed – not out or up. Shielded fixtures concentrate the light, making it most effective; they minimize wasted light, which is costly, squandered energy. Waste light is a hazardous pollutant, “light pollution.”
Birds killed following collisions with buildings in Toronto. Some were drawn by the structures’ bright lights.
“Of the more than 75,000 avian dead collected by volunteers since 1993, roughly 20,000 died at night, Mr. Mesure estimated. He said that 21 of the 175 different bird varieties the organization recovered in Toronto were at-risk species. “When dealing with a near-extinct species colliding with a lit structure,” he said, “that one bird can make or break the future of that given species of birds.”*
From the FLAP website: The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) was born 25 years ago out of a desire to prevent night-migrating birds from flying into the lights shining from office towers. FLAP soon learned that window collisions during the day far eclipsed the night-time issue…both in homes and corporate buildings. Since then all our efforts have been poured into protecting migratory birds from the life-threatening dangers of human-created environments.”
Light pollution fills towns, cities, industrial and even many recreational areas with ambient light that forms a ceiling of “skyglow” that blocks the view of starry skies, limiting humanity’s experience of our relationship to the cosmos. Like other sources of pollution that have health, environmental and economic costs, we can work to clean up light pollution one action at a time.
Take action through http://www.darksky.org/, http://www.darkskysociety.org/, http://www.aaa.org/, http://ny.audubon.org/, http://www.flap.org/.
Register a night sky petition, a Sierra Club initiative
https://www.addup.org/campaigns/protect-the-night/petition/protect-the-night-against-light-pollution for anyone who wishes to contact his/her government leader / mayor about a light pollution issue.
New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/04/07/science/light-pollution-effects-environment.html
Ask your library to purchase this film: The City Dark film, see trailer, 2 minutes 47 seconds http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/cityd.html.
NYTimes review http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/18/movies/the-city-dark-a-documentary-by-ian-cheney-review.html
Opportunities to Participate / Take Action
April 19 and 20 Northeast Astro-Imaging Conference in Suffern, NY
April 21 and 22 Northeast Astronomy Forum & Expo http://www.rocklandastronomy.com/neaf.html