The world’s nights are getting alarmingly brighter – bad news for all sorts of creature.
The world’s nights are getting alarmingly brighter – bad news for all sorts of creatures, humans included – as light pollution encroaches on darkness almost everywhere.
Satellite observations made by researchers during five consecutive Octobers show Earth’s artificially lit outdoor area grew by 2% a year from 2012 to 2016. So did nighttime brightness.
Light pollution was even worse than that, according to the German-led team, because the sensor used cannot detect some of the LED lighting that is becoming more widespread, specifically blue light.
The observations indicate stable levels of night light in the US, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. But light pollution is almost certainly on the rise in those countries given this elusive blue light, according to Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German research centre for geosciences and the lead author of the study published in Science Advances.
Also on the rise is the spread of light into the hinterlands and overall increased use. The findings shatter the long-held notion that more energy-efficient lighting would decrease usage on the global – or at least a national – scale.
“Honestly, I had thought and assumed and hoped that with LEDs we were turning the corner. There’s also a lot more awareness of light pollution,” Kyba told reporters by phone from Potsdam. “It is quite disappointing.”
The biological impact from surging artificial light is also significant, according to the researchers.
People’s sleep can be marred, which in turn can affect their health. The migration and reproduction of birds, fish, amphibians, insects and bats can be disrupted. Plants can have abnormally extended growing periods. And forget about seeing stars or the Milky Way if the trend continues.
For your own health, for the living things on Earth, for a brilliant sky, please open a few lights and refuse light pollution.