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Artificial Lights Are Destroying the Planet: What You Need To Know

Jul 01, 2016 05:58 AM EDT
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Living in an apartment with the view of New York City lights may be a sight to behold. But while such cityscape may be lovely, these artificial lights are hindering us from seeing the real beauty that the eyes are supposed to see.

Statesman and author Francis Bacon once said, "In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must also be present." In this case, to completely appreciate the beauty of the sky, light pollution must be banished.

Artificial light has benefited society for centuries and it still does to present day. But there are some cases when artificial outdoor lighting becomes wasteful and unnecessary and results in light pollution.

Lighting Research Center defines light pollution as an unwanted consequence of outdoor lighting. It includes effects such as sky glow, light trespass and glare.

But more than limiting the night-sky views, light pollution hurts the environment, wildlife and human population, too.

Light pollution affects entire humanity.

A recent study found out that artificial lighting has become so omnipresent that the Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity. In fact, 83 percent of the world's population cannot see the stars anymore.

The most light-polluted country on the planet is Singapore, where the entire population lives under "skies so bright that the eye cannot fully dark-adapt to night vision."

Light pollution disrupts our natural circadian rhythm.

Disruption of the body's circadian rhythm results in several medical disorders.

As stated by National Center for Biotechnology Information, Paolo Sassone-Corsi, chair of the Pharmacology Department at the University of California-Irvine and has done extensive research on the circadian clock, claims it results in depression, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Light pollution hurdles melatonin production.

International Night Sky Association said it also prevents melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that has antioxidant properties. It induces sleep, boosts the immune system, lowers cholesterol, and helps the functioning of the thyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes and adrenal glands.

Nighttime exposure to artificial light suppresses melatonin production.

Light pollution threatens wildlife.

Another study about light pollution published this June discovered that light pollution upsets the natural cycle of animals, from insects to the biggest animals. According to the study, moths who are drawn to lights may do less in pollinating plants.

Pollination is critical for food production and human livelihood. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said pollination is a keystone process in both human-managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems.

Light pollution disrupts the ecosystem.

The rhythm of life is directed by the natural patterns of light and dark. Anything that you do to disturb this will result in an imbalance.

For example, light pollution confuses nocturnal animals and migratory animals. According to The Globe at Night program, an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution, it alters the competitive interactions of animals, change predator-prey relations, and cause physiological harm.

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