Any topic including the word pollution will have an obvious negative connotation. Water, air and land pollution are all well known and prominent issues in recent years.
Until recently it was my understanding light pollution didn’t have many consequences. As far as I knew, light pollution made it harder to see the stars at night in cities and larger towns. Compared to carbon emission, lack of recycling or lack of fresh water, light pollution seemed to be low on a long list of environmental problems to be fixed.
However, from my brief Google search, it has come to my attention that light pollution is a major issue and will only create more problems in the future.
There are four main types of light pollution. Glare, which is brightness causing visual discomfort for both humans and animals. Light trespass is light falling where it isn’t intended or needed. This type of light pollution includes street lights shining into apartment or residential windows. Clutter light pollution is bright and confusing groupings of light sources and causes problems with animals who use night vision as well as disturb nocturnal animals. This type of light pollution is a completely man-made issue. Skyglow pollution is what I knew about. It’s the light surrounding cities which blocks out the night sky.
There are many negative effects of light pollution on people, animals and surrounding ecosystems.
Humans possess a circadian rhythm, this means the body requires regular light and dark hours to function at its best. The natural days and nights the Earth and Sun provide give people regular hours for being awake and asleep. When lights never turn off, the circadian rhythm can get interrupted and disrupt sleeping. As all students know, a regular sleep schedule is important to remain functioning.
Animals are also affected by light pollution. Light can attract bugs and repel animals. For example, if a patio light remains on during the night, bats will have a difficult time hunting during the night.
Earth’s ecosystems are also dependent on regular cycles of natural light. Plants, just like humans, need a consistent day and night and man-made light can cause issues with growth.
Not only is light pollution an issue, it can also cause a depletion of resources. Excessive use of light and energy contributes to the unnecessary use of natural resources. But the simple solution of just turning the light off won’t work. Light, especially at night, provides protection for people who are out in the dark.
There have been many ways to stop light pollution. Devices like dimmers, motion sensors and timers can help reduce the average light pollution levels as well as help people save money. As of now, there aren’t a lot of people focused on the issues. But slowly, people are beginning to recognize the impact of light pollution and its potential to cause more problems in the future.
While smaller towns like Vermillion don’t have much of an issue with light pollution, there is still a noticeable difference from looking at the night sky in town than from a mile away.