A study shows more and more cities are already too bright with artificial lighting that we can no longer see the Milky Way. Not seeing the stars may not be a big issue to some, but light pollution actually has adverse effects that people should be aware of.
Fabio Falchi of Italy’s Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute led the study for Science Advances where they mapped in detail the artificial lighting in the world that causes visual pollution. It showed around one-third of people can no longer see the Milky Way.
Moreover, the severity of artificial lighting even reaches into “outskirts and unpopulated areas” according to the co-author of the study, National Park Service’s Dan Duriscoe. This means we would need to travel even further just to see the natural night sky. And the closer we are to artificial light, the more we are exposed to its negative effects.
3 Consequences of Artificial Lighting
Waste of Energy
The nights of today are different from the nights years ago. Night time is no longer dark as there are numerous sources of artificial light in every corner of many cities. While it is useful, people do not actually need too much of it.
Most street lights, for instance, throw light in every direction instead of where it matters: on the ground. This causes “skyglow” which obscures our view of stars at night. Using lights even when we do not need it, like in the wee hours of the night, shots up many cities’ electrical bill with up to 40 percent of it going towards street lights alone.
It is not advised to use devices before going to sleep because they can actually strain our eyes and keep us more awake. But apparently, light pollution also plays a role in having a difficulty to sleep at night.
This follows various studies suggesting that there are certain light wavelengths which disturb our bodies’ production of melatonin. Particularly, blue light is discovered to be disruptive to our slumber time which, in turn, risks our health.
Because light is scattered everywhere, the wildlife’s normal routines are rattled because of animals’ unfamiliarity with artificial light. There are studies that revealed sea turtles actually get confused from lights in the coastal cities. With that, they lose their ability to navigate their way to the ocean.
Artificial light is also the reason why it is rare, or even impossible, to see fireflies in the city. It is because it becomes hard for these lightning bugs to find their mate at night.
Because we are all connected, this could also affect us. As an example, the difficulty of zooplankton to eat away the harmful algae found in lakes which lower the quality of drinking water. And H2O is extremely important to us since our bodies can only survive at an average of 7 to 10 days without it.
Moreover, the more we cannot see stars, the more we lose the feeling of connection with the universe. Because of light pollution, we may soon forget the grand scale of the universe and our place in it.