I remember when I was a child, I grew up in a small town, less than one hundred on the population sign. We spent much of our time outdoors, exploring the wonders of nature, but we also spent a lot of time outdoors at night as much as the day, and many of those nights was spent looking up at the amazing star filled skies.
Comparison View Effects of light pollution on the right.
I now live within throwing distance of St. Louis Lambert Airport, and let me tell you, star gazing is more like star searching. Light pollution has filled my view from my front porch, and crowded out the dark star filled skies I remember as a child. I often wonder if I was not actually dreaming, that those star filled skies are just a figment of my childhood memories.
I hope the green movement will assist the black movement, but it is our responsibility to change. The good news is, by helping reduce light pollution, we also reduce energy waste, so they compliment each other well.
The human eye has an extraordinary ability to see well in dark conditions. Unfortunately it takes some time for our eyes to adjust, partially due to light pollution, but after a few minutes in the dark our eyes start to adjust and we can often see things better then we could with light! The reason is is sometimes the glare from lights can cast heavy shadows in areas and put the eye in a vulnerable state where our night vision is impaired.
Safety is another concern. Leaving my porch light on all night should deter thieves and criminals. Maybe due to our natural fear of the dark we suspect this is the only time crime is committed, but we must realize criminal activity often takes place in the light of day, and lights, casting those heavy shadows we discussed earlier, can even help conceal a criminal! So a motion activated light that is only activated when needed may be a better choice for any safety concerns. Or if you are turning off your safety lights manually, maybe a timer would be a great option to turn off those lights when the morning light takes over, but you are still asleep. These motion lights are often sold with high pressure sodium bulbs and unshielded fixtures, so be sure to purchase one with shields and a model that is capable of accepting CFL's or LED bulbs.
It only takes a moment to replace a bulb with a lower lumen output, yes that's right, wattage is no longer a reliable means of light output. Lets reduce wasted energy and direct our lighting where needed, and only when needed! The night is often neglected when we think about nature, but it is so important for animals and plant life alike. Light pollution is thought to be harmful to many migrating species, such as sea turtles, and trees as there is the constant presence of artificial UV light affecting they're biorhythms.
The benefits of reducing light pollution are too many to discuss in my short blogs, but they are plentiful enough we should not ignore it! I say we get outside, and we bring the stars back!