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Light Pollution Questions and Answers

81  Signatures Collected as of 2/24/2018

Read the letter or jump to sign the petition.

1.  How does light pollution affect people?
In three main ways:

Health & Quality of Life: Recent landmark studies by University of Connecticut epidemiologist Dr. Richard Stevens have discovered that bright lights at night can nearly double the risk of cancer by disrupting the hormonal and immune systems of the body.  These disruptions also cause insomnia, depression, and other physical and mental diseases.

Safety, Security and Crime: These are the problems nighttime outdoor lights are advertised to eliminate.  Unfortunately, many lights today like Acorn streetlights, unshielded forward-firing Floodlights, Drop-Lens Roadlights and Dusk-to-Dawn Yardlights waste 30-60% of their light, sending blinding glare into people's eyes and polluting the night sky.  Because this type of lighting doesn't enhance visibility, safety and security are not increased but rather are in many cases decreased.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice Report to Congress on the effectiveness of lighting,  http://home.att.net/~icole/crime_ref_guide.html

"We can have very little confidence that improved lighting prevents crime, particularly since we do not know if offenders use lighting to their advantage.  In the absence of better theories about when and where lighting can be effective, and rigorous evaluations of plausible lighting interventions, we cannot make any scientific assertions regarding the effectiveness of lighting.  In short, the effectiveness of lighting is unknown."

In closing, after decades of aggressive lighting programs, the results speak for themselves!  Crime rates in America are higher today than in any previous time in recorded history.  Security is diligently sought for but never achieved.  Personal safety is at an all-time low.

All this with an annual pricetag of more than $20,000,000,000 worldwide!

Uncontrolled Outdoor Lighting, like crime, never pays!

Astronomy:

Personal:  This is the part of light pollution that you are probably most familiar with.  After all, a dome of skyglow over cities and the resulting lack of stars have become far too familiar of a sight for most Americans. 

In spite of the record low prices and wide selection of powerful Astronomical telescopes, starting at $150 from dealers like www.telescope.com, light pollution is fast blocking our view of the night sky and ending personal Astronomy as we know it.

We need to take action today to save the Universe!  We can change the world, one light at a time! See http://www.darksky.org/

Professional: The pace of Astronomical discoveries today is truly remarkable, especially with space telescopes like the Hubble, Chandra, WMAP, and Mars Rover missions!

But the workhorses of Astronomy, Ground-Based Observatories, which direct the space telescopes towards targets of interest, are under fire from light pollution.  Although lighting regulations have been enacted to protect several observatories, we need to guarantee that every observatory is protected!

2.  How does light pollution affect animals?
Although light pollution affects all animals negatively, some species are killed by the millions worldwide, like birds and sea turtles. See http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0417_030417_tvlightpollution.html
3.  How does the affect of light pollution differ in the city rather than rural and suburban areas?
Light Pollution becomes much more intense, to the point where only the brightest stars can be seen and the night sky glows brightly.  Nearby light pollution sources can also blind the observer, resulting in a sky that appears black but is completely devoid of stars.  This destruction of dark-adaptation can be even worse than skyglow itself.

4.  In what way can light pollution be prevented?
With the combination of two technologies; Smart Lighting & Full Impact Lighting:

Full-Impact Lighting:   Lighting that aims all of its light toward the ground where its needed, not into the night sky where its wasted.  None of the bulb should be visible at night when you're standing at the same level as the fixture.  Most of these fixture can be identified by their flat, horizontal lenses.  Examples:Flat-Lens Roadway Lighting, Flat-Lens Parking Lot Lighting, and the residential Glarebuster.

Smart Lighting:  Using high-tech motion sensors and timers to provide true safety, security and savings.  Motion sensor lighting works like a security system, turning on only when an intruder is in the yard, scaring them away and alerting you by a sudden blast of light.  Both timers and motion-sensors save lots of energy and save you lots of money on your power bill!

See:

http://www.saveourstarryskies.homestead.com/projects.html
http://www.darksky.org/fixtures/fixtures.html

 

5.  What population of the world is affected by light pollution?
NASA studies indicate that 67% of the world's population live under light polluted skies; including 99 percent of people in the continental United States and Western Europe:

For more info: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast01nov_1.htm

 

6.  How dark does the sky get with light pollution affecting it?
This varies from quite dark with many stars visible in areas like Arizona, where light pollution is controlled to perpetual twilight in heavily light polluted areas like big cities.

7.  Light is also expensive, is there an inexpensive available solar light?
Although alternative energy sources are the technology of the future, the only way they can supply worldwide power needs is to decrease energy use by increasing the efficiency of our appliances.

Energy use by outdoor lighting can be cut in half by directing all light onto the ground.  Smart lighting technologies like timers and motion-sensors could further reduce energy use to 1/10th of the present level.

This is what we need to do to bring back the stars!

 

8.  Is there more than one type of light pollution?

Actually, there are 3 types of light pollution:

Sky Pollution: The dome of light that forms over cities when air molecules in the atmosphere backscatter light towards the observer.

Glare Pollution:   Blinding glare from unshielded outdoor lighting that destroys the eye's ability to see faint lights like stars and deep sky objects.

Light Trespass:Lighting that illuminates other people's yards, properties, and sleeping areas.  This causes such problems as increased crime, lower property values, inability to conduct public Astronomy viewing of rare and spectacular events, and interference with a good night's sleep, the latter having the potential to double the individual's risk of cancer (see question #1).

 

Additional Resources:
http://www.darksky.org/
http://www.saveourstarryskies.homestead.com/

IDA Information Papers:
http://www.darksky.org/infoshts/istopic.html

Jonathan Casselman

Chairman, International Dark-Sky Association Youth Working Group
Astronomical League Youth Observing Awards Coordinator

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Proud Distributor of Celestis, Inc., - Memorial Spaceflights

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