Light Pollution: How Did it Become a Threat for the Environment?

published Aug 13, 2015
1 min read

light pollutionFor three nights until the 9th of August, some people have been able to enjoy the beautiful scenery happening on the top of their heads. This phenomenon called the nights of stars is a perfect occasion for people to observe numerous shooting stars crossing the sky. This magical moment is however not perceived in the same way for everyone.

Indeed, as cities develop, their light networks expand to cover citizens’ lighting needs. But this phenomenon is not without consequences for the animals living in the surrounding areas as it is neither good for yourself.

Thus, if you want to observe shooting stars another time, you will have to plan where to position yourself in order not to be annoyed by what is nowadays referred as “light pollution”. Due to cities’ fast expansion, and the development of urban areas encompassing different cities into metropolis, you will need to push your searches every year farther away from your home to enjoy a clear sky.

Recently, a French study published by the National Association for the Protection of the Sky and the Nocturnal Wildlife (Anpcn in French) has shown that the impacts of light pollution should not be underestimated as they affect dramatically the city’s surrounding wildlife.. Furthermore, the study reveals that light pollution can also be harmful for citizens as it deregulates sleeping cycles.

Again according to the study, it is said that in 30 years luminous dots have increased by 89%, both in urban, peri-urban and countryside areas in France. The main issues with lighting is that it deregulates the migration of fish and birds, as well as their reproduction and nutrition habits. Animals that are nocturnal are thus privileged over the diurnal ones that are perturbed in their sleeping cycles. Nevertheless, nocturnal animals still encounter some troubles relative to lighting, as they are better seen by their prey thus disrupting their hunting habits. They also face difficulties when it comes to orientate themselves, as they use the stars and the moon as points of reference.

light pollution 2Moreover, phenomenons such as animals being dazzled by car lights are becoming common on our roads. An example of light pollution being harmful for animals could also be the enlightenment of the new bridge linking Copenhagen (Denmark) to Malmö (Sweden) in 2002 that killed almost one thousand birds in one night.

Furthermore, as elected representatives want to showcase historical monuments and cities heritages in their administrative district, the phenomenon of lighting is more than ever present in our conurbations.
If those monuments have to be lightened, it should be during a fixed period of time, for example from 8p.m to 10p.m to reduce light pollution but still enjoy their beauty. What is more, municipalities could established plans to lower lighting in parks and create a lighting scheme according to districts’ traffic.

Finally, as you may know, light pollution also implies energy waste, as we lighten monuments and buildings that are not supposed to be because it is not necessary. Therefore, we waste energy that could be used for a better purpose somewhere else.