We rarely stop to think that the night is necessary and good for life. Therefore, we do not realize that protecting the night sky is a valuable step to conserving bio-diversity. Most people think that, as we sleep at night, the rest of the species do the same, with a few exceptions, so it is of no concern if we send out a little light into the night time environment. A crass error. Naturalists know (and it would help if they said so more often) that the biological activity of our fauna is more intense at night than during the day and that this fauna needs the night for their normal activities.
Light Pollution Harms the Environment
This page will cover some of the impacts that light pollution has on species which have lived on this planet
far longer than us "john-come-lately" humans. In the span of a mere one hundred
years, our creation of the never-occurring night is having some real effects on the animals that were here before us. One
reason is that the same melatonin suppression problems we have with lights at night, creates the same problems in animals.
Melatonin is the chronobiotic hormonal regulator of neoplastic cell growth,
meaning that it is just the hormonal signal of our
But melatonin is more than just some ancient hormone buried deep within us and the animals that is impacted. Night tells so many animals when to eat, when to sleep, when to hunt, when to migrate or even when to reproduce, it is estimated that half of all life on earth start their daily activities at sundown. Here is a brief, incomplete accounting of how light pollution harms those living outside our materialistic world.
Our Vanishing Night -- YouTube video by astrogirlwest
FLASH: A new study reports that lights on at night can worsen smog conditions for a city! Sunlight breaks down the nitrate radical NO3, so its levels build up during the night. As it does so, it neutralizes some of the other nitrogen oxides (NOx) that contribute to smog. But it is not just sunlight that does this, any light can break down NO3, especially those city lights that are left on at night. As such lights, for example: streetlights, are often immediately next to the sources of the exhaust creating smog and are measured to be about 25 times stronger than the light of a full moon. This combined effect reduces the natural cleaner NO3's levels down by 7%, which then increases the smog components by a non-negligible 5%.
Details can be found at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/home/111959684.html.
Now add to that the practice of additional outdoor lights on for the holiday season...
Click below to additional pages covering effects of light pollution on plants and animals in:
The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.
Links to Other Sites
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has their own pages about light pollution effects on various biological organisms. Check them out as they are in the field, obseving these effects directly!
The SkyKeepers.org out in California has their own Ecological Light Pollution page covering additional articles and reports on the effects of lights at night and the environment.
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at mail dot sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)
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