Since the early 20th century, humans have been using electric lighting to light our streets, homes, and businesses. Little notice was taken to where the lighting was being directed. Some light continues to be directed beyond the target of interest and up into the night sky where it reflects off particles in our atmosphere.
The wasted lighting costs money. It is more economical if lighting is exclusively focused on the subjects of interest rather than spilling into areas where it is not required. Light pollution is a contamination of lighting our night sky, washing out the more faint celestial objects. In some cities, light pollution is so bad that sometimes even the brightest stars are washed out.
Light pollution is the easiest type of pollution to clean up. All it takes is switching off light sources that are unnecessary, insta lling cut off caps on street lights and security lights and lowering the power (wattage) of the lights themselves. This saves everyone money, reduces the strain on our power grid, and helps to restore the splendour of the night sky to everyone.
Causes of Light Pollution
- Improper lighting cutoff. Some lighting fixtures are actually designed such that light escapes directly upwards and into the night sky. A simple lighting cutoff cap placed over the offending light will not only block the light that would normally head upwards into space, but also reflect some of the light back to the intended target, thus minimizing the need for high power lighting.
- Excessive powerful (high wattage) lighting. Some lighting is too excessive.
- Unnecessary lighting. Some lighting is not necessary. The next time you turn on a light at night ask yourself, “Is this light really doing anything constructive? Is this light really worth the extra money in electricity I am paying? Do I really need these lights to be on all night or should motion sensors be used.”
Light pollution is caused by anyone who uses electric lighting…most of us.
What can I do?
- Switch off unnecessary outdoor lighting
- Reduce your lighting power
- Work with your neighbours to develop a light pollution abatement strategy on your street
- Check out security lighting in your town or city
- Contact municipal government representatives and local businesses
- It takes ordinary people to voice concern over this wasteful practice to help make a change.