Thursday, September 30, 2010

Outdoor lights cause light pollution

A lit Earth may have unintended consequences

By Rebecca Bischoff

When my mom told me that the police wanted her to keep her porch light on during the night, I got a little upset. At school I had learned that light pollution is becoming a major problem throughout the world. People, especially in major metropolitan areas, can no longer see the stars, and quality sleep is being disrupted. Animals are even more affected by light pollution as their migration, reproduction and feeding patterns are disrupted. A number of studies, including those of birds and bats, have linked increased lighting to the decline of the species population. All of this lighting also uses a lot of energy, most likely from a dirty energy sources, and can even make places more unsafe if the lights are glaring, which creates deep shadows for people to hide.

I don’t think that all outdoor lighting should be removed. It is true that a properly lit area is safer, but most of our current lighting is excessive and inefficient. Fortunately, installing light fixtures that direct the light downward to the area where it is needed and replacing bulbs with energy-efficient ones can easily diminish the affects of light pollution. As you think about the safety of your neighborhood at night, consider the effectiveness of the lighting both along the streets and on your building. For more information check out the International Dark-Sky Association at