Welcome to a page about light pollution and what we can all do to tamp it down. This page goes along with my November 11, 2010 episode on 365 Days of Astronomy.
Light pollution is simply having too much light glaring out at night. Astronomers are highly sensitive to light pollution because it interferes with their ability to see and study dim, distant objects in space. You and I are also affected by light pollution because it washes out the night sky, erasing our view of the dimmer stars. But, it also turns out we’re affected in the same way that animals are, when deprived of dark. It affects our health, interferes with a living being’s ability to mature, and deprives of us the chance for healthy sleep at night. We are evolved to appreciate both light and dark, and when dark is removed or interfered with, it affects us deeply.
So, the idea of light pollution mitigation is to identify sources of pollution and remove them. Or mitigate them in some way so that they don’t have as much of an effect on us.
This is where the International Dark Sky Association comes in. It is the foremost lobby against the indiscriminate use of lighting. They point out that light pollution is not just a health issue or an astronomy issue, but a pocketbook issue as well. All the light that gets sent skyward is wasted light — and since it costs money to turn on those lights, they represent wasted money — and fuels — as well.
So, let’s work together to reduce light pollution. It represents waste — and a civilization that feels the need to boast of its existence so much that it’s willing to send wasted light to space. We’re not that wealthy, folks, that we need to boast of our wealth (on a planet where many are also hungry and homeless), that we can afford to burn money on the altar of the technologies (fossil fuels, nuclear power plants, etc.) that power our lights.