What is light pollution and why is it a problem

This article discusses light pollution, how it is caused, and why is light pollution is a problem.

What is light pollution and why is it a problem

Excessive, misdirected, or improper outdoor illumination is known as light pollution. 

Light pollution has profound consequences for everything it touches. The problems caused by it are:

  • Affects People
  • Affects Animals
  • Affects Earth and Ecosystem
  • Affects Traffic
  • Waste of Resources

Light Pollution

Excessive, misdirected, or improper outdoor illumination is known as light pollution. 

Light pollution increases energy consumption, obstructs astronomical study, destroys ecosystems, and jeopardises human and wildlife health and safety.

You might be surprised to learn that light pollution can have just as much of an impact on the environment as carbon monoxide and other airborne pollutants.

When most people talk about light pollution, they’re referring to all of the ways that artificial light is altering the environment’s natural illumination. The way light and dark fall in a city, for example, is affected by all of the lights. 

There is no longer any night out there, putting plants and animals that rely on night illumination in jeopardy. Maintaining natural light is also crucial for other reasons.

Types of light pollution

Glare, light trespass, and skyglow are the three basic kinds of light pollution in clinical terms (in addition to over-illumination and clutter). 

Glare from unprotected illumination is a public-health risk, especially as you become older. Glare light dispersion in the eye reduces contrast, can briefly blind you, and produces hazardous driving situations, for example. 

When unwelcome light penetrates one’s property, such as by beaming unwanted light into a sleeping person’s bedroom, it is known as light trespass. 

The term “skyglow” refers to the glow that may be observed above densely populated places. Skyglow is a mixture of reflected light and upward-directed (unshielded) light that escapes into the sky (and for the most part, unused). 

All three forms of light pollution are considerably reduced when lights are shielded.

Why maintaining a natural light is important

While technology has made significant progress in developing methods for illuminating darkness, we now know that altering the natural light of any environment may have disastrous consequences for plants, animals, and natural life.

In certain situations, it can even alter the weather. The natural world is programmed to respond to the sun’s light patterns. The seasons are determined by the sun’s distance from the Earth. 

Because most animals are photosensitive, this generates the growth and hibernation seasons that natural life knows.

The kind of light can also serve as a forewarning of impending climatic change, triggering natural defences such as leaf changing and metabolic slowdown.

Light pollution causes

Light pollution is unusual in that it is created only by humans. There is no natural kind of pollution that compares to carbon dioxide pollution. The following are the primary sources of light pollution:

  • Poor Planning
  • Irresponsible Use
  • Overpopulation
  • Excessive Use of Light
  • Smog and Clouds
  • Lights From Cars and Other Motor Vehicles
  • Streetlamps, Light From Houses and Garage Lamps
  • Nighttime-lighting
  • Downtown Areas

We shall discuss these in more detail.

Poor Planning

Engineers arrange the placement of signage and street lights, and if they don’t consider the impact on the surrounding environment, they can generate glare, light trespass, and light clutter.

Irresponsible Use

You may enjoy Christmas lights, but leaving them on all night, as well as leaving a room with lights on or setting timers on street lamps without changing them for the season, are all forms of pollution. 

The failure to consciously choose to reduce energy waste is a major source of light pollution.

Overpopulation

It’s basically a zoning issue here. When there are too many companies or residents in one place, light pollution may occur in a variety of ways.

Excessive Use of Light

Excessive usage of electric light is a major source of light pollution. Electricity has gotten relatively inexpensive over time, thus individuals are less concerned about their usage. 

This results in excessive power usage as well as excessive use of light, particularly at night.

Smog and Clouds

Light pollution occurs when smog and clouds reflect the light generated by cities, making the surrounding area appear considerably brighter.

Lights From Cars and Other Motor Vehicles

Light pollution is exacerbated by automobiles and other vehicles, especially at night. In regions where there are few alternative light sources, car lights beam brightly.

The lights of automobiles may have an unfavourable effect on people’s sleep if they reside near streets with high traffic congestion.

Streetlamps, Light From Houses and Garage Lamps

Light pollution and human health can be caused by street lamps placed too close to homes. This may have a negative influence on people’s sleep due to bad street layout.

Light pollution can also occur when a neighbour just leaves the lights on in his or her home, even late at night.

When a neighbour puts on the garage lighting at night, it might be an extra source of light pollution, reaching surrounding residences and hurting individuals.

Nighttime-lighting

All types of nocturnal illumination can have a negative impact on individuals, resulting in light pollution. An excellent example would be lit advertising areas that emit light pollution onto nearby homes at night.

Downtown Areas

Because skyscrapers in urban locations are generally well-lit, they generate a tremendous amount of light. 

Because many of the lights will be on 24 hours a day, seven days a week for traffic and commercial purposes, they will significantly contribute to light pollution.

Effects of light pollution

While many people discount light pollution as a cost of contemporary living, it has profound consequences for everything it touches. Some of these are:

  • People
  • Animals
  • Earth and Ecosystem
  • Traffic
  • Waste of Resources

People

It has been proved that the improper sort of light, or too much light, has negative health impacts and lowers quality of life. 

Humans on Earth have a circadian rhythm imprinted in their DNA that requires a consistent pattern of light during the day and darkness at night.

When these natural circadian rhythms are interrupted, it can lead to cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and sleeplessness, among other things.

People normally prefer to sleep in a dark atmosphere, and getting enough sleep is important for both our physical and mental wellbeing.

When the atmosphere is brightened, people may experience sleeping problems, which can lead to major health problems.

Animals

Animals and insects can be attracted to or repelled by lights. The majority of animal life is based on a diurnal or nocturnal pattern that is disrupted by light pollution.

This has the potential to endanger entire species. Light pollution has a particularly negative impact on areas that were previously unaffected by people.

Animals in these places may react to changes in their natural habitat with great sensitivity. They may relocate to locations with less light pollution, or undesired species may be drawn to human settlements.

Earth and Ecosystem

Natural light cycles are essential to the Earth’s biosphere. Because these ecosystems are often sensitive to changes in their surroundings, they may be unable to adjust to new artificial conditions created by human-caused light pollution.

Skyglow alone can reduce growth protection by preventing natural UV rays from reaching the Earth due to reflected light from the atmosphere. 

This throws off the development and decay cycles that are essential to our food, air, and water supply.

Traffic

Light pollution may also have a negative impact on traffic by causing temporary blindness due to too much brightness or the inappropriate angle. 

When it comes to driving an automobile, this may be risky. The likelihood of accidents may rise if the driver’s vision is harmed by excessive light clusters on specific roadways.

Light pollution puts people at risk by interfering with key navigational systems used by trains, aircraft, and even vehicles.

Waste of Resources

Excessive use of light entails increased consumption of a variety of fossil fuels. Lights, for example, require electricity, which is generated using massive volumes of coal in industrial operations. 

As a result, we’re indirectly contributing to the depletion of natural resources such as coal.

Conclusion

Excessive, misdirected, or improper outdoor illumination is known as light pollution. Glare, light trespass, and skyglow are the three basic kinds of light pollution in clinical terms.

Light pollution is unusual in that it is created only by humans. There is no natural kind of pollution that compares to carbon dioxide pollution.

While many people discount light pollution as a cost of contemporary living, it has profound consequences for everything it touches.

FAQs

What are the solutions to light pollution?

The effective measures against light pollution are:

  • Light shields keep light from spreading to neighbouring locations and focus it on specific places.

    This aids in the resolution of the issue of light pollution and its harmful implications for surrounding homes and residents.
  • The use of warm lighting rather than cold lights can also aid in the reduction of light pollution.

    While cold short-wavelength light degrades night vision and contributes to light pollution, warm light has been shown to mitigate these effects to some extent.
  • Another effective method is to utilise approved lighting, which may significantly minimise glare, sky glow, and light spill.

    Certain certifications, such as IDA, ensure that your lights have a lower environmental effect, reducing light pollution to a minimum.
  • Motion detectors are a fantastic technique to reduce light pollution. The light is only turned on when the motion sensor is triggered in this situation, which can help save a lot of energy.

    Furthermore, because the light is only turned on a few times, light pollution is considerably decreased.
  • Another option is to turn the light off. The angle at which light is dispersed can be determined using light cutoffs.

    Because the light is focussed on specific areas where it is needed without harming the surrounding environment, adjoining dwellings may be free of light pollution.
  • Light pollution can also be combated via education. Talking to your friends, persuading them, and creating a blog may have a big impact on a lot of people.

    All of this will have a significant influence on light pollution mitigation, as well as many other global issues that we are now confronted with.

Why aren’t solutions being put in place faster?

People’s habits are tough to alter, and redesigning and replacing what currently exists is costly. 

People and governments are gradually discovering the long-term effects of light pollution and realising that preventative expenses save money in the long run.

Light pollution is receiving greater attention these days, and attempts to eliminate light pollution will increase as education and awareness grow.

References

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