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Solutions to Light Pollution

Part Three in a Three Part Series

Light pollution is excessive, misdirected or misused light that can harm human health, wildlife, ecosystems, and astronomy. Although light pollution is one of the least known types of pollution, its effects on human health and ecosystems can be just as serious as some of the better-known forms of pollution. Solutions seem complicated or out of reach, but that simply isn't so. Let's look at what we can do right here.

Light Pollution Is Dangerous Uncomfortable Preventable

Light pollution is the only form of pollution that is exclusively created by human activity; there are no natural sources of light pollution, like there are with various greenhouse gasses. The three main culprits behind light pollution are:

1. Unnecessary or Irresponsible Use – Leaving the lights on in a room when the room isn’t in use is a significant source of light pollution, especially at night. Even beautiful Christmas lights can be problematic if left on 24 hours a day. Passive wastes of energy like these unfortunately contribute to light pollution.

2. Bad Planning – bright signs and street lights have the potential to create huge amount of glare, light trespass, and light clutter.

3. Overpopulation – If population density gets too high, the cumulative light of all the residences and businesses can cause extreme light pollution of many varieties.

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Some people dismiss light pollution as merely a nuisance. However, light pollution has serious effects on human life, as well as the lives of plants and animals.

1. Humans – The wrong kind of light at the wrong time, or too much light altogether, are known to negatively impact our health and quality of life. Extreme light pollution can even interfere with navigational systems of planes, trains, and motor vehicles, endangering everyone.

2. Animals – All animals are sensitive to the natural cycle of day and night. Light created by human activity can put entire species at risk, as well as attracting unwanted critters into human areas.

3. The Earth – Strong forms of light pollution, such as Sky Glow, can block natural UV rays from reaching Earth. When natural rays are deflected away from the Earth’s surface, the cycles that control our food, air, and water supply are disrupted.

How Can We Fix Light Pollution?

The first step in solving light pollution is education. For people to become part of the solution, they must be taught the full consequences of light pollution. The next step is action. Light pollution can be controlled by better zoning, and considering where light sources are placed. Changing the bulbs used for street lamps, homes, signs, and businesses can make human illumination more efficient and less damaging.

Why Is It So Difficult To Implement?

Redesigning and replacing systems that already exist can be expensive, and old habits are difficult to change. People and institutions are slowly learning and acknowledging the consequences of light pollution, and recognizing that preventative measures can actually save money in the long run. As education and attention to light pollution increases, we will get better at reducing our impact.

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