We all have studied the three basic types of pollution in our early lives – air, water and land pollution. But do you know that these are not the only factors that cause pollution?
There are eight factors in total, which have a major or minor contribution to the pollution on our Earth. The light sources we use to illuminate our planet is among the major type of pollutants that we fail to notice. So, what is light pollution?
What is light pollution?
In simple terms, light pollution is nothing but the excessive use of artificial lighting. Due to the industrial revolution, the use of artificial lighting has been increasing rapidly to a level where we can no longer enjoy the clear view of our Milky Way galaxy in the night sky.
Moreover, the LED bulbs we use today emit a shorter blue wavelength that scatters easily in the atmosphere. This strains our eyes, diminishes the view of our night sky and hence, adds severely to the light pollution.
Yes! The energy efficient LED Bulbs too…
Meant for the conservation of energy, the LED lights are brightening up the Earth’s night steadily according to a new research published recently in the journal science advances. That is, they are making Earth’s nights less darker. They heavily contribute to light pollution at an annual rate of 2.2% increase in outdoor lit areas. Besides, there has been a total increase in radiance by 1.8% per year between 2012-16.
Indoor as well as the outdoor lightings are usually poorly shielded and designed. Lights are inappropriately layed out and overly used which leads to futile energy generation.
Effects Of Light Pollution
50% of the light, due to poor shielding, is directed towards the sky, diminishing its view and hence, leading to energy wastage. As we already know, burning of fossil fuels leads to greenhouse gas emissions. So, there is no harm in saying that light pollution is indirectly having an impact on global warming as well. And reducing light pollution can go hand-in-hand with reducing air pollution.
Light pollution leads not only to an increased energy consumption, but it poses a challenge to our ecosystem and wildlife too. It disrupts the daily cycle of day and night for nocturnal animals who remains active at night and expose them to the very predators they want to hide from throughout the night.
Using the moon and stars as navigation during their bi-annual migrations, birds become disoriented flying through brightly-lit areas. Even the aquatic animals like the sea turtles who are unable to reach back home due to highly-lit beaches suffer due to light pollution.
As discussed earlier, artificial lightning pose a threat to human beings by emitting shorter blue wavelength light and straining our vision. Not only animals, but human beings are also habitual to the day-night cycle known as the circadian cycle. The change in cycle impacts the brain wave patterns that cause depression, insomnia as well as cardiovascular diseases at times.
Here’s a video reflecting some more of the drawbacks of light pollution.
Any proposed solutions ?
The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology has arrived at a solution to this problem where street lights can be equipped with motion sensors. When there would be no people or vehicles around, the lights would account to 20% of their actual capacity. This system has the potential to reduce 80% of unnecessary electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions as well. There’s still some doubts regarding this technology but someday now or later, researchers will find a solution.
For the beautiful star-filled night sky…
I have already talked about the solutions to increasing light pollution like applying the motion sensors and shielding the lights in order to reduce dispersion of light towards the sky. Also, using longer wavelength lights reduces strain on our eyes and dims the light at some extent for nocturnal animals. We have to reduce the overuse of artificial lightning and avoid unnecessary laying of lights .
Every one of us can make a difference. Have you ever seen the heart warming night sky from a dark place where there are no other light sources around? If you have, then you surely know what it is to miss such a beauteous view in our cities.
It is unfortunate that more than half of our population is not able to enjoy the view and I am afraid to say it may never be possible again. The damage can be reversed back to a certain extent, but with our combined future efforts.
So everyone, let’s make an effort to reduce light pollution and save our ecosystem from brightening up the nights.