Rubbish in the sky

Light pollution is next to the land pollution or water pollution a big problem, which most of people don’t really realize. The use of artificial light in big cities during the night is very high and it is still growing. Most of the citizens of European Union or USA live under the polluted sky. This fact can cause many problems. Wasting of energy is just one of them.

Walking in the night throuth the city gives us possibilities to have a look at the surroundings from the new perspectives. Light up buildings, glossy bridges, night sightseeing, lightened shop windows and streets let us to see all we want – even if it is dark. Or actually, it supposed to be dark. But can we see the stars? Can we see the Milky Way? We are impressed by the ligth up buildings of the big cities but can we admire on the same time the night sky? No – at leaset in the most of the places in the world. „A groundbreaking new study documenting light pollution across the globe finds that more than 80 percent of the world’s population lives under light polluted skies. The United States and Europe have it even worse, with 99 percent of their denizens experiencing skyglow at night” (http://www.darksky.org/80-of-world-population-lives-under-skyglow-new-study-finds/).

The use of artificial light or using it in unappriopriate way is so intense nowadays that we can already talk about light pollution. And even if most of us heard only about land or water pollution, light pollution is already a problem. The scientists are warning. Couple of years ago it was possible to see the stars or Milky Way. Now, it is not so easy or even impossible.

What is more, it is all not just about the esthetic or astronoms who have dificulties with observing the night sky. The issue of light pollution can cause many other serious problems. First of all, the natural circle of life of the wild can be destroyed. Let’s take into consideration birds or turtles. Those animals are depending their migration on the circles of the Moon. Artificial light can confuse them. Some animals might change the directions or migrate too early or too late. Those mistakes can cause big damages.

Additionaly, being exposed to the artificial light might also have bad influance on human. International Dark Sky Association is warning: „Research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer and more” (http://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/human-health/).

There are many initiatives, which try to fight with light pollution. International Dark Night Association from USA and Program Ciemne Niebo from Poland (Dark Sky Program) not only make the people realize the problem but also give the tips how to reduce the use of artificial light. First of all, the street lamps could be designed in a way that they will direct the light just at the street – not up to the sky. Second of all, we should think, if we need all of them. Reducing the number of the street lights not only can save the energy but also not always means less of light. If they are located in a smart way, we might not even notice the difference. And let’s be honest – do we really need the light in each shopping window in the middle of the night?

Reducing the artificial light has many positive features. The question is if we realize it? If we are able to lose the beauty of the light up city in the night? The beauty of the night sky we have already lost… „We are losing the dark of night at the speed of light”

Daria Jaranowska

Photos taken by Max Hafemann

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