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LOSING THE DARK

Whenever the word pollution comes around, we mostly think of smoke, dust or dirt etc. The spectrum of pollution is not confined to such examples. Pollution has changed the basic view of our lives. One of the main causes of this change is – LIGHT POLLUTION. Many of us do not even know about this phenomenon. One might think what wrong or how much harm could this type of pollution bring about. Well, that would be – ‘A lot’.

The sky and nature was once bright, pure and naturally lit so much so that a clear night sky could easily cast our shadows on ground. But due to global interconnection, urbanization and loss of privacy pollution has swept across every corner of the Earth.

http://www.shindles.co.uk/stockgrove/light/earthlighths.jpg

The above link will show you a clear picture of how earth looks from the outer space when it’s supposed to be dark.

A multiple problems that are caused by excessive and inappropriate (unnecessary) use of artificial light, refers to light pollution.
Specific components of light pollution are

  • LIGHT TRESPASS – This is a poor control of outdoor lightning. Unwanted light shining in a property or outside windows where it is not intended or needed.
  • SKY GLOW – Brightening of the night sky. This not only might take place over habited areas but also inhabited areas.
  • GLARE – Excessive brightness which causes visual discomfort. High levels of glare can decrease visibility.
  • CLUTTER – Bright, confusing, and excessive groupings of light sources, commonly found in over-lit urban areas. The proliferation of clutter contributes to sky glow, trespass, and glare.
  • OVER ILLUMINATION – Excessive use of light like, improper design, daylight lighting, incorrect choice of lights, extensive lighting.

Due to poor planning, irresponsible use and overpopulation this phenomenon has become a growing concern. It wastes money and energy. Unlike other forms of contamination and waste, it remains largely overlooked and unregulated in many countries.

The effects of light pollution has been such that people have to travel far from home to experience the awe inspiring expanse of Milky Way. Not only has it affected the aesthetic beauty, but it has been participative enough to disrupt ecosystems. In ways that there is disruption of daily life cycles, migration patterns, annual breeding cycles, as well as visual distraction of birds, insects and animals (both land and marine).

Besides, wildlife it also affects every citizen. We humans are also regulated by circadian rhythms, the physical, mental and behavioral changes that occur in a 24-hour cycle. The circadian clock regulates physiologic activities such as brain wave patterns, hormone production, and cell regulation. The rhythms respond to the light and darkness around an organism. Disrupting these rhythms can result in a variety of health problems, including sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, diabetes, cancer (particularly breast and prostate cancer), cardiovascular disease, immunological disorders, and obesity.

Since, light pollution alters the view of sky and stars, it creates the most difficult scenario for astronomers. In order to conduct observation and research, astronomers require dark skies. Light spill and sky glow interferes with astronomical equipment, and makes viewing faint celestial bodies difficult even with the aid of a telescope. Astronomy helps us determine weather changes and any potential threats from outer space.

All of these when disturbed sums up to a high level of degradation of the environment we live in.

To be able to see this beautiful expanse of sky or somewhere close to this at least, probably we should adapt the solution. And the solution is easy!

  • Utilizing light sources of minimum intensity necessary to accomplish the light’s purpose.
  • Turning lights off using a timer or occupancy sensor or manually when not needed.
  • Improving lighting fixtures, so that they direct their light more accurately towards where it is needed, and with fewer side effects.
  • Adjusting the type of lights used, so that the light waves emitted are those that are less likely to cause severe light pollution problems. Mercury, metal halide and above all first generation of blue-light LED road luminaires are much more pollutant than sodium lamps: Earth atmosphere scatters and transmits blue light better than yellow or red light. It is a common experience observing “glare” and “fog” around and below LED road luminaires as soon as air humidity increases, while orange sodium lamp luminaires are less prone to show this phenomenon.
  • Evaluating existing lighting plans, and re-designing some or all of the plans depending on whether existing light is actually needed.

I being a citizen of this world, know its not easy to build up everything from a scratch. But, I also know for a fact that a simple switch in this case can play wonders. So much so that slowly we will adapt and understand better as well as rejuvenate the hampered ecosystem. 

 

Shreya

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